Welcome back folks! In this week’s newsletter, we have news on:
▪ Virginia Midterm Elections: With only 13 day till election day, we’re sharing the latest on the midterms and an important notice for some NoVa residents.
▪ Virginia Headlines: Get the latest on Virginia’s unemployment rate and Governor Youngkin’s report on student test scores.
▪ COVID-19 & Vaccine Data: NOTICE - On October 24, 2022, VDH made changes to streamline some of the COVID-19 dashboards and these changes have now been reflected on our newsletter. More information about the changes are in the News Release and on the Website Change Log. For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov.
🗳 Midterm Elections
Virginians will pick who will represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives when they cast their ballots in the midterm elections in just over two weeks.
This midterm election, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested in the US. Virginia has 11 House seats up for election in addition to a variety of local seats.
This is the first General Election using the new legislative districts updated with the 2020 U.S. Census data.
NOTICE: Voters in several towns in Northern Virginia got notices that had incorrect voting location information. The towns are Clifton, Dumfries, Herndon, Occoquan, Quantico and Vienna.
“Following the redistricting process, the Department of Elections mailed over 6 million voter notices to all registered voters in the Commonwealth. A second mailing of 176,000 notices was sent to voters whose original notice did not include their town district number or who had a P.O. Box,” the Virginia Department of Elections said in a statement, pinning the error to a “printing issue.”
Registrars in Prince William and Fairfax counties are sending out corrected notices to those who got one with incorrect information. You can check your voting information on the VDOE website, or you can call 804-864-8901 and dial 0 for the operator.
🤒 Flu Outbreak in VA High School
About 1,000 students out of Stafford High School's nearly 2,100 student body population are out due to " flu-like/gastrointestinal symptoms," according to the Virginia school system.
Stafford County Public Schools said their health services team is currently working with the health department to find out more about this "illness."
As of Friday, the high school canceled all activities through Sunday.
Several teachers have also missed classes after coming down with flu-like symptoms. While health officials with the Rappahannock Area Health District continue to investigate the sudden outbreak, Stafford High School will remain open.
Officials and the Virginia Department of Health are working together to investigate the root causes of the illness.
Flu activity in the US often starts to increase in October and usually peaks between December and February.
💵 Student Loan Forgiveness Update
The application is available for those who qualify. Eligibility is outlined on StudentAid.gov, this is dependent on your income and the student loans you have.
Filling out the form is a simple process, taking less than five minutes in most cases (and maybe even shorter). It’s unclear if relief will take longer for borrowers who have to provide more information – verifying your income or that of your parents are two of the reasons the Education Department may contact you.
Federal officials are encouraging borrowers to apply by mid-November to receive student loan forgiveness before payments resume in January.
As this student loan forgiveness process continues, here are three more dates you don’t want to miss:
October 31, 2022
If you don’t qualify for this federal student loan relief, you may be eligible for debt relief through a separate program. But, time is running out to apply under a temporary expansion to the program.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or PSLF, is meant to help borrowers working in the public sector have their federal student loans forgiven after meeting the necessary criteria. Last year, the Education Department enacted a waiver that rolled back certain eligibility requirements.
That waiver is set to come to an end on October 31, 2022. This means you need to have completed one of the actions outlined by the Education Department here or have submitted a PSLF form before November 1, 2022.
January 1, 2023
As mentioned above, the student loan payment pause is coming to an end on December 31, 2022. If your entire federal student loan balance won’t be forgiven, this means regular payments and interest accrual will resume on January 1, 2023. Financial experts recommend preparing your budget for an expense millions haven’t had in nearly three years.
December 31, 2023
The application for federal student loan relief will remain open until the end of 2023. However, legal challenges to the debt forgiveness program could impact this.
Six states are suing to block the plan, saying it oversteps Biden’s authority and will lead to financial losses for student loan servicers, which are hired to manage federal student loans and earn revenue on the interest.
Considering the aforementioned, we recommend applying as soon as possible. Apply now at StudentAid.gov.
Have more questions?
The Education Department has a toll-free hotline for borrowers who have questions about the application: 833-932-3439.
📰 Virginia Headlines
ABC 8 News - Virginia unemployment rate holds steady at 2.6%, below national average. Virginia’s unemployment rate held steady at 2.6% in September, a 0.8% drop from the same point a year ago. According to data released by the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), the commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 2.6% continues to be below the national rate, which declined to 3.5%. The number of employed Virginia residents rose by 993 as employers added 8,000 jobs in September. Virginia’s overall labor force participation rate — the proportion of residents age 16 and older employed or actively looking for work — lowered slightly to 63.6%, above the national rate of 62.3%.
AP News - Youngkin calls latest student test scores ‘catastrophic’. Math and reading scores declined in Virginia, as they did around the country, according to the results of a closely watched national test, findings that Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Monday were “catastrophic.” The test was administered to hundreds of thousands of 4th and 8th graders across the country this year. It’s typically given every two years, but the 2021 administration was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The results showed lower average scores in both reading and math among 4th graders, as well as lower 8th grade math scores, though 8th grade reading scores were not significantly different than in 2019. According to an analysis of Virginia’s results by the Youngkin administration, 4th graders in Virginia between 2017 and 2022 saw the largest declines in reading and math in the nation. And for the first time in decades, Virginia’s 4th grade students fell below the national average in reading and are barely above the national average in math, the administration said.
The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 2,113,552. The 2,113,552 consists of 1,494,720 confirmed and 618,832 probable cases. There are 22,138 COVID-19 deaths, and Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is now at 9.2%.
Vaccine Summary: As of Tuesday, October 25
Total Doses Administered: 17,371,087
People Fully Vaccinated: 6,272,218
Percentage of the Population Fully Vaccinated: 73.0%
Booster / Additional Doses Administered: 4,433,247
Average Doses Administered Each Day: 13,243
NOTE: On October 24, 2022, VDH made changes to streamline some of the COVID-19 dashboards. More information about the changes are in the News Release and on the Website Change Log. For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov
Get out to vote, VA!!
- María Reynoso, Executive Director