Student Aid Advocacy News

NASFAA Testimony on Strengthening Loan Programs
March 13, 2013 - Testimony of Justin S. Draeger, NASFAA President, presented to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce.
2012 Congressional Elections and Student Aid
Preliminary results from the 2012 election suggest that the balance of power in the House and Senate will remain relatively unchanged. This article looks at some of the results of the election and several outstanding student aid issues the incoming 113th Congress will likely have to tackle in the coming years.
The Impact of Obama’s Reelection on Federal Student Aid
President Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney in the 2012 election will give the administration four more years to push its ambitious higher education and student aid goals. But the president will certainly face new challenges in his second term.
Republican Leaders Seek Investigation into Direct Loan Management
Republican Leaders on the House Education the Workforce Committee and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking for an investigation of the federal government's oversight of the Direct Loan program. The letter cites a growing number of...
Financial Aid Administrators: Presidential Debates Lack Specifics
The presidential candidates’ stances on student financial aid have become increasingly similar this fall and some campus aid administrators feel the debates between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney lacked specific, coherent long-term policies for federal student aid.
White House & ED Introduce Tool to Improve IBR Process
White House and Education Department (ED) officials recently announced a new tool aimed at streamlining the application process for the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Program.  The new "IBR Retrieval Tool" is designed to operate like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval, allowing borrowers to access the IRS...
Senator Introduces Bill to Increase Consumer Disclosure Requirements
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently introduced legislation to crack down on aggressive recruiting practices at some institutions by increasing disclosure requirements and expanding penalties for schools that misrepresent information. The Advancing College Choice and Ethics to Protect Taxpayers Act of 2012, or the ...
Higher Ed Experts Urge Congress to Improve Data Requirements in HEA Reauthorization
Lawmakers and expert witnesses at a House committee hearing Thursday acknowledged the need to reduce burdensome data collection requirements in higher education, but stressed the importance of improving current systems to collect data more relevant to today’s diverse student population.
More States Using Performance-Based Incentives to Improve College Affordability
Higher education leaders told a committee of Senators Thursday that more states are using performance-based funding to incentivize postsecondary institutions to increase completion rates and lower costs by increasing the number of students who graduate on time.
Senate Passes 6-Month Stop-Gap Spending Bill
The U.S. Senate passed a stop-gap spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013 to fund all federal discretionary programs through March 27, 2013 at 0.6 percent above FY 2012 levels, sustaining the maximum Pell Grant award at $5,550.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill -- known as a Continuing Resolution (CR)...
House Bill Calls for Full Certification of Private Loans
A House bill introduced this week by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) would amend both the Higher Education Act and the Truth in Lending Act to strengthen requirements surrounding private education loans and to correct some technical flaws in the definition of private loans. The bill is considered a companion bill to the Senat...
Senate Committee Reaches Deal to Extend Tuition Deduction, But Not AOTC
The Senate Finance Committee has reached a tax credit deal that would expand the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition-related expenses (tuition deduction) to the end of 2013, but would not extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), a partially refundable $2,500 tax credit for higher education costs t...
Senate Democrats Highlight Concerning Trends in For-Profit Sector
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), released a report summarizing a two-year study of for-profit institutions titled For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success. The Republican minority of the HE...
U.S. Dept. of Education Update at NASFAA Conference
Jeff Baker, the Director of Policy Liaison and Implementation at ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid, and David Bergeron, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at ED's Office of Postsecondary Education, covered a wide-range of topics from ED’s new financial aid Shopping Sheet to new verification pr...
ED Under Secretary Praises Financial Aid Administrators, Asks for Help to Do More
Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter praised the work financial aid administrators do to help graduate low-income students at NASFAA's award lunch yesterday. In addition, several interest sessions covered a variety of financial aid issues including undocumented students and providing accurate college ...
Sen. Durbin Addresses NASFAA Conference and ED Provides Updates, Takes Recommendations
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin(D-IL), who serves as the Majority Whip, shared his thoughts with NASFAA Conference attendees on the history and future of student aid, the student debt problem, workforce development and the DREAM Act. Following the breakfast with Sen. Durbin, conference attendees took part in interest sessions o...
NASFAA Conference Highlights Policy Initiatives, Recommendations and Federal Updates
The first day of the NASFAA Conference kicked off with an orientation for first-time conference attendees, in which NASFAA leadership highlighted the information value of this year’s extensive conference agenda and the unique opportunity for members to take advantage of the experience and the chance to make new friend...
Presidential Campaign Reps Outline Plans to Improve College Access and Affordability
Campaign representatives for President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney engaged in a lively policy discussion on federal student aid, college affordability, burdensome regulations and the federal budget at the opening session of the 2012 National NASFAA Conference Sunday. The discussion featured cam...
NASFAA Private Student Loan Recommendations Adopted by CFPB
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued private student loan policy recommendations that incorporate several policy changes advocated by NASFAA and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).
Comparing Obama and Romney's Financial Aid Policies
Brush up on Obama and Romney's student aid policies before the 2012 NASFAA National Conference where representatives from each campaign will discuss plans for higher education and student aid at the opening general session at 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, July 22. Generally, the Obama administration has focused on increasing ...
ED Offers Guidance on Executive Order for Treatment of Vets
The Department of Education has issued guidance in Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN-12-10 regarding President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13607, detailing "Principles of Excellence" for the treatment of veterans, military personnel and their families by postsecondary institutions.  Implementation by schools of the EO...
Education Department Launches New Online Debt Management Tool for Students
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) just released a new online interactive loan counseling tool to help students manage their debt and keep financial aid professionals in the loop. The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool aims to provide students with basic financial management information, such as their current loan...
VA Extends Deadline to Sign On to 'Principles of Excellence' for Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is extending to Aug. 1 the deadline for higher education institutions to indicate their intent to comply with the "Principles of Excellence" for providing services to veterans, military personnel, and their families. VA is also working with the Departments of Defense and Educati...
Limiting Subsidized Loan Eligibility to 150% of Program Length: What You Need to Know
Congress passed legislation Friday to extend the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans for one year. The bill temporarily delays the rate from doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1. Experts estimate that this change will reduce costs for these borrowers by as much as $1,000 over the life of repaym...
Senators Ask Agencies to Provide Higher Ed Groups Clarity on 'Principles' for Treatment of Vets
In a letter  to the Departments of Defense (DoD), Veterans Affairs (VA) and Education (ED), Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Michael Enzi (R-WY) urged the delay of the June 30, 2012 deadline for schools to express intent to comply with the President's Executive Order (EO) on the treatment of veterans, service members an...
VA Letter Extending 'Principles of Excellence' Deadline
The Department of Veteran Affairs sent this letter on June 29 to notify institutions that it was extending the deadline to indicate intent to comply with "Principles of Excellence" for veterans.
Senators Submit Letter to Federal Agencies on Executive Order Regarding Treatment of Vets
In a letter to the Defense, Veterans Affairs and Education Departments, Sens. Richard Burr and Michael Enzi, on behalf of the higher education community, urged the delay of the June 30, 2012 deadline for schools to express intent to comply with the President's Executive Order establishing "Principles of Excellence, in...
ED To Release College Affordability Lists
The Department of Education is scheduled to release six College Affordability and Transparency Lists, as required by the HEOA, as early as today. Three of the six lists focus on tuition and fees, while the other three lists report average net price. Each list can also be broken down by sector.
Senate Dems. Counter GOP Student Loan Interest Rate Proposals
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to offer a proposal to pay for a one-year extension of student loan rates to prevent them from doubling on July 1. Reid's proposal would reduce business tax deductions for pensi...
Gainful Employment Informational Debt Measures Released
The Department of Education (ED) made the 2011 Gainful Employment Informational Debt Measures, without the student level information from the GEDRs, available to the public Tuesday morning, June 26. The new data, which cover career training programs at public, for-profit and non-profit schools, shows that 5 percent of...
Republican Senators Introduce Bill To Set Long-Term Student Loan Interest Rates
Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced a bill that seeks to provide a long-term solution to set student loan interest rates on Stafford and PLUS loans. The Comprehensive Student Loan Protection Act would annually set an interest rate equal to the bond equivalent rate of 10-year Treasury bills pl...
ED to Launch College Savings Account Test Project
The U.S. Department of Education plans to launch the College Savings Account Research Demonstration Project to determine if dedicated savings for college will increase a student's likelihood of college attendance. The test project will allot $8.7 million to establish and fund college savings accounts for 10,000 studen...
Department of Veterans Affairs: Executive Order Establishing Principles of Excellence
President Obama signed an Executive Order on April 27 to establish a set of principles to enhance consumer protection for veterans and their families regarding the use of veteran and military education benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs sent a letter to postsecondary institutions on May 31, requesting the wr...
Senate Votes Down Competing Interest Rate Plans
In a last minute vote before the Memorial Day recess, the Senate rejected two competing bills to prevent an increase in borrowing rates for federally subsidized undergraduate loans. While Democrats and Republicans in both chambers agree on preventing the 3.4 interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans from doubling to ...
Romney Unveils Education Plan and Team
Presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney believes increased spending on federal financial aid programs feeds the growth of college costs. In his education plan released Thursday, Romney would limit eligibility for the Pell to the neediest students, eliminate recent regulations and increase the private se...
House Panel Examines Obama’s Executive Order on College Recruiting of Vets
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) convened the House Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Wednesday to examine the potential costs and benefits of President Obama’s executive order (EO) that ties military and veteran education benefits to marketing and recruitment practices at postsecondary institutions. The executive order ca...
NASFAA Attends White House Brainstorming Summit on Financial Literacy Initiatives
The White House convened a room of financial experts, nonprofit leaders and students Thursday to develop a path forward for a national campaign to promote financial literacy in all aspects of life, including early learning and college planning. Created by President Obama in 2012, the Advisory Council on Financial Capa...
Democrats’ Interest Rate Bill Fails Test Vote in Senate
The Senate voted down a motion Tuesday to begin debating Democrats' proposal (S.2343) to extend the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans by amending tax law to close a small business tax loophole. While the GOP's interest rate plan passed in the House last week, Tuesday's failed Senate vote makes it ...
Obama Issues Executive Order to Crack Down on Deceptive Recruiting of Vets
President Obama issued an executive order Friday that ties military and veteran education benefits to marketing and recruitment practices at postsecondary institutions. The measure also calls for the establishment of new outcome measurements, financial disclosure requirements and enhance enforcement and compliance mec...
Republicans Pass House Bill to Extend Interest Rate
President Obama has vowed to veto a Republican bill passed by the House Friday that would keep the subsidized Stafford Loan interest rate for undergraduate students at 3.4 percent for one additional year by repealing part of Obama’s health care act. The bill passed by a vote of 215-195. The Congressional Budget Office...
Full-Court Press to Extend 3.4% Interest Rate for Subsidized Loans
Republicans and Democrats have both agreed to provide one-year extension to the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans; now they have until July 1 to agree on a way to pay for it. Tuesday, Senate Democrats introduced a bill (S.2343) that would amend tax law by closing a small business tax loophole for ...
Democrats and Republicans Agree on Interest Rates, Spar on Offset
In an unexpected turn of events, Republicans unveiled their own bill yesterday that would keep the subsidized Stafford Loan interest rate for undergraduate students at 3.4 percent for one additional year. The Republican bill (H.R. 4628) comes on the heels of a Democratic bill introduced in the Senate (S. 2343) that wo...
ED Plans to Issue Guidance on Changes to Pell Lifetime Limit
In correspondence from the Department of Education (ED) to NASFAA on recent changes to the provision that limits the duration of a student’s Pell Grant eligibility, ED acknowledged the concerns of NASFAA members and outlined plans to address them. In the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget, Congress amended statutory languag...
NASFAA Joins Higher Ed Associations in Letter on Interest Rate Legislation
NASFAA joins the American Council on Education (ACE) and other higher education associations in a letter to House members expressing the community's strong support for enacting legislation to maintain the subsidized Stafford student loan interest rate at 3.4 percent.
Report Outlines How Eliminating Tax Breaks Could Help Shore-Up Funds for Pell
With student aid funding under continual threat, a new report by the Education Sector details how eliminating education tax breaks that increasingly benefit upper-income students could help shore up more funds for programs like the Pell Grant program that support low-income students. Using IRS data collected by the Co...
Proposed Legislation Would Prohibit Use of Federal Student Aid Dollars for Recruiting, Marketing
Senate Democrats introduced legislation yesterday that would limit how postsecondary institutions use the funding they receive from federal student aid programs. The "Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act" would prohibit the use of Pell Grants, federal student loans, military education benefits and o...
Republicans Seek Feedback on Direct Loan Program
The House Committee on Education and Workforce is seeking feedback from borrowers and schools on servicing issues related to the Direct Loan Program.  Specifically, the lawmakers are asking borrowers to share experiences they have had related to loan rehabilitation, debt collection, privacy concerns, and poor customer...
Experts Call for Higher Education Community to Unite With a Plan to Sustain Pell
Despite some technical disagreements, higher education experts at an Education Sector panel discussion Wednesday agreed that the higher education community needs to form a singular, unified issue campaign to put the Pell Grant program on sustainable long-term footing. The panel discussion, titled "Is the Pell Grant Pr...
Red Flags to Prevent Student Aid Fraud on Your Campus
The first step in preventing abuse of student financial aid programs is awareness, according to an American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) white paper that highlights some best practices and recommendations to prevent fraud. Because of a lack of a private national student unit record data system, AACC recomm...
ED to Issue Correction to 2012-13 FSA Handbook on ATB Determinations
NASFAA has received a number of member inquiries concerning the status of ability-to-benefit determinations to establish a student’s eligibility for Title IV funds. For students who are or were enrolled in a Title IV-eligible program prior to July 1, 2012, institutions may use one of two methods to establish a student...
NASFAA Seeks Resolution on Outstanding Student Aid Issues
Recent changes to the student aid programs have raised a host of issues and questions at financial aid offices across the country. NASFAA has been collecting these issues and questions from members and delivered them directly to the Under Secretary's office at the U.S. Department of Education. At the specific request ...
Senate Bill Would Strengthen Financial Literacy for Private Student Loans
A Senate bill introduced last Thursday by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) would amend both the Higher Education Act and the Truth in Lending Act to strengthen requirements surrounding private education loans and to correct some technical flaws in the definition of private loans. Concerned that many s...
Know Before You Owe Act of 2012
A Senate bill introduced last Thursday by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) would amend both the Higher Education Act and the Truth in Lending Act to strengthen requirements surrounding private education loans and to correct some technical flaws in the definition of private loans.
Republicans Ask Government Accountability Office for Information on Direct Loan Program
Republican education leaders in the House and Senate asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to provide information about the U.S. Department of Education's administration of the Direct Loan Program among concerns about loan rehabilitation and debt collection practices.
Legislation Would Provide Counseling on G.I. Bill Benefits to All Eligible Vets
Amid allegations that some for-profit institutions have employed aggressive tactics to recruit veterans for their education benefits, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, and a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would require education counseling services for every veteran eligible for education assi...
Senators Debate Discharging Private Student Loans Through Bankruptcy
Congress should reinstate a provision in the bankruptcy code to allow borrowers to discharge private student loan debt in bankruptcy said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) at a hearing held Tuesday by the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts. Last year, Durbin proposed the Fairness for Struggling Stude...
Student Loan Forgiveness Bill Introduced in House
Last week Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI) introduced HR 4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, in the House of Representatives. This bill would forgive the balance on student loans to eligible borrowers who make 10 years worth of payments. In addition to helping struggling borrowers, HR 4170 is intended, on a broad...
House Passes Bill to Repeal Credit Hour and State Authorization Regulations
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act (H.R. 2117) by a vote of 303 to 114. Democrat opposition to the bill was split with 69 supporting the bill and 114 opposing the bill. No Republicans voted against the bill. The bill would repeal the federal definition of a...
State and Regional Financial Aid Associations Advocate Lawmakers on Key Student Aid Issues
More than 30 financial aid administrators (FAAs) visited the offices of more than two dozen members of Congress serving on the Senate and House education committees earlier this month to advocate on a number of federal student aid issues. FAAs from the Eastern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (EASFA...
White House Seeks Input on Draft College Scorecard
The Obama administration has posted a draft College Scorecard that it plans to add to the College Affordability and Transparency Center to help prospective students and their families compare colleges. We encourage you to provide the administration and NASFAA with input about this scorecard.
House Democrats Introduce (Unfunded) Bill to Prevent Interest Rate Hike
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced legislation (H.R. 3826) this week to keep subsidized Stafford loan interest rates at 3.4 percent indefinitely. The bill was filed on Wednesday, the day after President Obama called on Congress to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1, 2012 in his State of the U...
NASFAA & NACUBO Submit Private Loan Comments to CFPB
NASFAA partnered with the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to submit comments on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB's) Request for Information Regarding Private Loans and Private Educational Lenders
CFPB Seeks Private Student Loan Information for Congressional Report
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is seeking information about private student loans from students, schools, the student loan industry, and other stakeholders to help prepare a report to Congress. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires the CFPB and the Department of Educat...
Interest Rates for Federal Subsidized Loans to Jump to 6.8% on July 1, 2012
Without Congressional intervention, the interest rate for Federal Direct Subsidized Loans will change from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent beginning July 1, 2012. The reason why has a lot to do with decade-old, long-term interest rate calculations and 2007 legislation aimed at easing student loan debt.
ED Announces Partnership With NASFAA to Connect Work-Study Jobs to Career Goals
The U.S. Department of Education announced yesterday it is partnering with NASFAA and other stakeholders on a White House initiative to encourage campuses to use the Federal Work-Study program to place students in positions related to their learning and career interests and goals.
Senate Democrats Advocate to Preserve Pell Funding in 2012
Four Senate Democrats delivered a colloquy on the Senate floor Wednesday advocating against cuts to the Federal Pell Grant program.
ED and Financial Aid Professionals Prevent $300 Million in Improper Pell Grant Payments
The rate of improper Pell Grant payments has decreased from 3.12 percent in 2010 to 2.7 percent in 2011, Obama administration officials announced Tuesday. Administration officials estimate this prevented $300 million in improper payments in 2011.
2010 College Graduates Met With More Debt, More Unemployment
New report indicates grant aid continues to help offset lower income levels and higher tuition rates.
NASFAA Members Testify on Successes and Challenges of Direct Loan Program
NASFAA members testified about the successful transition to Direct Loans yesterday before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training.
Financial Aid Day in the Congressional Record
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) recognizes Financial Aid Day (the third Wednesday in October) in the Congressional Record on Oct. 24.
Statutory Definition of ‘Net Price’ Underestimates True Cost of College
Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org, says "net price" is flawed and offers several recommendations to increase accuracy of college cost.
NACAC Recommends Changes To US News and World Report’s College Rankings
New survey shows college rankings produced by U.S. News and World Report leave students and families confused about college quality.
Guaranty Agencies See New Opportunity Amid Uncertainty
The Obama administration’s revamped Voluntary Flexible Agreement (VFA) program provides guaranty agencies an opportunity to reinvent themselves.
ED Lauds Aid Administrators, Urges Campuses to Provide 'Necessary Support to Aid Offices
The U.S. Department of Education's Chief Operating Officer for the Office of Federal Student Aid, William Taggart, encouraged college presidents yesterday to provide the support necessary to ensure financial aid offices are properly trained and adequately staffed.  
An Interview with House Subcommittee on Higher Education Chair Virginia Foxx
Foxx (R-NC) discussed Pell Grant Program funding, "Program Integrity" regulations and how to tackle rising student debt loads.
FAAs at Joe Wilson's Office