This piece is from Home Room, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education.

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the first step in accessing the more than $150 billion available in federal student aid. Since the 2015-16 FAFSA launched, the Digital Engagement Team at Federal Student Aid has responded to hundreds of FAFSA questions via Federal Student Aid’s social media accounts. (Yes, believe it or not, we do actually read what you tweet at us or write on our wall and do our best to respond to as much as we can!) In doing this, we’ve found that there are a few FAFSA questions that are asked a lot. We want to help clear up any confusion, so let’s go through them...

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The Atomic Binder

By Tim Bugno, Curriculum Manager, AVID Center

In a recent discussion over dinner with a colleague—one who works extensively with AVID administrators and coordinators—I had an interesting conversation about the usage of binders and the method that she uses to demonstrate the importance of a single system of organization. In her work with various educators across the country, she brings along three backpacks—each containing a binder and an identical set of notes, homework, and tests from the same semester of high school work. She asks for three teacher volunteers from the group and gives each a backpack.

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AVID students stick with college, outpace peers

By Maureen Magee, Journalist, U-T San Diego

AVID Elective students participate in a Socratic seminar.This piece was first published by the U-T San Diego in January 2015.

For the past 35 years, the San Diego-based AVID program has built a national reputation for steering underserved students to college.

Turns out that AVID graduates — largely poor and minority students — go on to stay enrolled in college at rates that outpace their peers who did not participate in the program, according to new research.

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Leaders Give Us Permission to Be Great

By Jonathan Petrick, AVID Staff Developer, Elective Teacher, and Coordinator
Ramstein Middle School, GermanyJonathan Petrick and one of his former AVID students, Aris Soltani

Back in 1991, I traded my baseball cleats for track spikes. Simply put, I was horrible at baseball, and our multiple coaches taught us the game by yelling, providing negative encouragement, and not really focusing on building the self-esteem of each player. At the insistence of my older brother, Doug, I decided to sign up for the track and field team the following spring. After a few practices, I noticed a distinct difference between the two coaches of their respective sports. One was encouraging, positive, a bit peculiar, and made it fairly easy for those of us running the distance events to push ourselves to the absolute physical breaking point in practices—it was hard work, but fun. On the other hand, I recalled our baseball coaches spending most of the practice yelling, providing little feedback, and “putting down” the majority of the team for not meeting their unknown expectations. As running continued through my college years, the sport provided me opportunities to encounter numerous leaders—some who I really admired and others who were mere managers at best.

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Teacher of Year Sean McComb Makes the Case for Optimism 

By Suzie Boss, Journalist and Author

Sean talks with student Juliette German at Patasco High School. Photo credit: Charlie Herndon of Baltimore County Public Schools CommunicationsThis interview was first published by Edutopia in December 2014.

National Teacher of the Year Sean McComb is at the halfway point of his whirlwind journey, which has taken him all across the country to meet with fellow educators, policy makers, and even President Obama.

Along the way, he has been sharing insights gained from eight years in the classroom at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Baltimore, Maryland. He teaches in a program called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) which addresses the needs of students who are much like a younger version of himself. We caught up just before the holidays, when he was looking forward to some down time with his baby son before hitting the road again.

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