Education & Childcare

Headline:

The Federal Department of Education extended the pause on federal student loan payments and collections until 60 days after the court case is resolved, or 60 days after June 30, 2023, whichever is earlier.

Last-reviewed: 9am, Jan. 17, 2023

Key Resources:

Education

The Basics

  • Parents and caregivers who receive SNAP and participate in a SNAP Path to Work program can get 12 months of free child care. Find more information here.
  • Programs providing in-person child care must follow COVID protocols.
  • For the 2022-2023 school year, MA is offering universal free school meals.
  • The CROWN Act prohibits MA school districts and school-related organizations from discriminating against people who wear natural and protective hairstyles.
  • As a result of recent court orders, the US Department of Education (ED) is blocked from implementing its student loan debt relief program. The Federal Department of Education extended the pause on federal student loan payments and collections until 60 days after the court case is resolved, or 60 days after June 30, 2023, whichever is earlier.
  • Advocates are encouraging MA residents to call their state Senators and Representatives in December to urge passage of the Hunger Free Campus Initiative to help the 37% of public university students who experience food insecurity.

The Breakdown

  • Massachusetts has lost about 10% of its childcare workforce since the start of the pandemic, resulting in long wait lists and fewer hours of care available to families. To help mitigate this loss, $7 million in additional federal funding will soon support several area institutions in offering free education and training programs to people interested in teaching in the early education sector. Read more here.
  • Due to a federal appeals court order, ED’s student loan debt relief program is blocked and ED no longer encourages eligible borrowers to apply. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments from both sides of the Biden administration’s student debt forgiveness plan, with a ruling expected in June 2023. Find more information and updates here.
  • The Biden administration extended the student loan repayment pause until 60 days after the federal student debt relief program is implemented or the debt relief program litigation is resolved, or 60 days after June 30, 2023, whichever is earlier. Borrowers can learn more at StudentAid.gov.
  • Parents who participate in a SNAP Path to Work program, DTA’s Employment and Training programs for SNAP households, can now get a child care voucher for eligible kids under age 13. The voucher lasts 12 months even if parents begin working during that time. Find out more here.
  • The EEC provides child care financial assistance to families that meet income-based and activity requirements. Call Mass 211 or your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency for more information.
  • SNAP recipients are now categorically eligible for Head Start early childhood programs, without having to meet separate criteria. Read the FAQs here. Visit this Head Start/Early Head Start page for more information about the federal programs.
  • As of August 29, 2022, DTA will no longer count a college student’s receipt of financial aid as countable income in determining SNAP or cash assistance benefits eligibility. In addition, to be considered eligible, the student does not have to be actively working in a Work Study assignment (only needs to be awarded Work Study as part of their financial aid package). This DTA Online Guide Transmittal provides more information.
  • MA requires Districts to provide transportation to K-6 students based on their distance from the school, as well as all K-12 students who attend regional school districts. Many students with disabilities are also entitled under federal and state law to specialized transportation.
  • If a K-12 student has difficulty getting to and from school, they can contact their District. If their District does not fix the issue, they can file a complaint with DESE online or by calling 781-338-3700. Students with disabilities also have a right to adequate transportation to and from school.
  • All MA school children whose schools participate in the National School Lunch Program will get free school meals during the 2022-23 school year. Even though meals will be free for all such students, it is important for families to complete the household Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals. Learn more here.
  • Students with Long COVID may qualify for additional services under IDEA or Section 504. See this ED Long COVID Guide for additional information.
  • A law in MA prohibits workplace and school discrimination against people who wear hairstyles such as braids, twists, Bantu knots, and locks. MA is the 18th state to adopt a version of the hair discrimination bill commonly known as the CROWN Act.

The Bottom Line

  • Courts have issued orders blocking the Biden administration’s federal student loan debt relief program. The student loan repayment pause has been extended until 60 days after the debt relief program is implemented or the litigation is resolved, or 60 days after June 30, 2023, whichever is earlier.
  • Parents or caregivers can contact their local school district for information about a child’s individual school operations.
  • Parents and caregivers who participate in a SNAP Path to Work program may receive free child care for any eligible child under age 13.
  • Child care vouchers may be available for eligible parents through DTA or the EEC.