CGS Sends Letter to White House on the Implementation of CHIPS and Science Act

On October 20, CGS sent a letter to Dr. Arati Prabhakar, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on the importance of investing in graduate education when implementing the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The CHIPS Act is said to be an “historic” and “once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s semiconductor industry and scientific research and innovation enterprise. CGS shares this point of view and believes that the CHIPS and Science Act is a necessary step in the authorization of scientific research and education programs.

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Like previous COMPETES Act legislation, the CHIPS Act authorizes robust increases in federal funding for the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and other federal research agencies. The CHIPS Act also authorizes programs that promote the growth of the STEM and semiconductor workforces, as well as federal programs that benefit graduate STEM education and broadens access and participation for underrepresented groups in the STEM disciplines. To broaden participation and access of women and underrepresented minorities, the CHIPS Act includes increased federal funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority-Serving Institutions, and emerging research institutions. The CHIPS Act also authorizes significant investments in the research infrastructure at these universities.

The Coalition for National Science Funding sent letters to appropriators and the administration regarding funding for the National Science Foundation. In the letter to appropriators, the coalition states the importance of completing appropriations for FY 2023 before the end of the calendar year and to fund NSF at the highest level possible, using the recently passed CHIPS and Science Act as a guide. The federal government is currently running on a continuing resolution after Congress did not pass appropriations by the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2022.

The letter to the Biden Administration requests $15.65 billion in NSF research and education investments in FY 2024 as authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act. CNSF writes in the letter, “NSF needs funding to expand the geography of innovation and enable increased research capacity at emerging institutions, and many worthy STEM education and broadening participation programs are authorized that would help meet the Administration’s critical equity goals. New research infrastructure and instrumentation will require substantial investments and help address the Administration’s priorities in open science and community-engaged R&D. All of these new efforts must coexist with strong funding for NSF’s critical existing research, education, and infrastructure programs that power our STEM research and education ecosystems.”

Education Department Announces Permanent Improvements to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

This week the Department of Education announced executive actions that will bring most loans managed by the Department closer to forgiveness, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. This action will coincide with the July 2023 implementation of permanent fixes to PSLF through regulation. A fact sheet on the permanent improvements to PSLF regulations can be found here.

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These actions will provide borrowers with many of the same benefits already going to those who have applied for the PSLF Waiver before its October 31, 2022 deadline. Borrowers with Direct Loans or Department-managed Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) will receive credit toward forgiveness on income-driven repayment (IDR) for all months spent in repayment, including payments prior to consolidation and regardless of whether they made partial or late payments or are on a repayment plan. Borrowers will also receive credit for specific periods in deferment and forbearance. The Department strongly encourages borrowers to take the necessary steps to apply for the waiver by October 31, 2022.

DOE Office of Science Expands Program for Faculty Historically Underrepresented in STEM

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science recently announced an expansion of the Visiting Faculty Program. As part of the Office of Science’s RENEW initiative, the program is expanding to offer a pathway for faculty and their students from underrepresented higher education institutions to benefit from research capabilities and opportunities at national laboratories. Two application assistance workshops will be held for all faculty interested in applying to either VFP track, on November 9, 2022, and November 18, 2022. You can register for both workshops here.

NSF Changes Name of Education Directorate

On October 25, the National Science Foundation announced that it would change the name of its Directorate for Education and Human Resources to the Directorate for STEM Education. The Division of Human Resource Development will likewise be known as the Division of Equity for Excellence in STEM. The changes are intended to better reflect the value and totality of the agency’s work with the missing millions, underrepresented minorities who have the potential to participate in STEM but experience increased barriers that discourage many from pursuing STEM graduate degrees. The name changes took effect immediately and do not affect the work done by the Directorate.

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The Directorate for STEM Education administers many programs that positively impact graduate education, two of which are the Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program. The Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides fellowships for graduate students in science, technology, engineering or math or STEM education. While the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program provides fellowship programs focused on increasing the number of STEM bachelor’s and graduate degrees awarded to populations historically underrepresented in STEM fields.

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