Khalilah Harris, deputy director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, will deliver the keynote remarks at the Howard County Public School System Black Achievement Program's College and Career Opportunities Fair on Thursday in Columbia, Maryland. Harris will focus on current trends of academic excellence and expectations of students to be college- and career-ready. Following her remarks, she will participate in several small group sessions to address individual needs and interests of students and families.
The Howard County schools' Black Student Achievement Program works to close the achievement gap between black students and their peers by guiding black students to develop education, career and personal/social competencies. The College and Career Opportunities Night is an annual event that provides students in grades 8-12 with an opportunity to meet college, business and entrepreneur recruiters in a variety of career fields.
The Obama Administration is keenly focused on increasing access, affordability, and strong outcomes for students in postsecondary education. The Administration recently launched the new College Scorecard to complement the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet and to help students and families make informed decisions before enrolling in college. The scorecard empowers students and families with clear, easily accessible and critical information on college performance, including the first-ever nationally comparable data on post-college earnings.
Since taking office, President Obama has significantly simplified the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA®. The Administration has revamped the online form for all families so they can skip questions that are not relevant to them. Today, students and families on average fill out the FAFSA in about 20 minutes, only one-third of the time it took seven years ago. To further these efforts, the President recently announced a new initiative to allow students and families to apply for financial aid earlier—starting in October as the college application process gets underway—rather than in January. Beginning on Oct. 1, 2016, students can apply for financial aid a few months after they and their parents file their 2015 tax returns with reliable information retrieved electronically from the IRS, rather than waiting until the next year's tax season to finalize their FAFSAs and to learn about their financial aid.