Student Aid Perspectives

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Student Aid Perspectives is an occasional, longer-format series designed to offer thought-provoking articles on current student aid topics written by expert authors.

Perspectives articles are intended to encourage dialogue among NASFAA members, using NASFAA.org’s article commenting feature. While these articles are typically reviewed by NASFAA’s Publications Editorial Board, the opinions offered and statement made do not imply endorsement by NASFAA or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.

Do you have an idea for a Student Aid Perspectives article? Please see Guidelines for Authors for submission procedures.

Does the President’s FY 2015 Budget Request Leave Graduate and Professional Students with the Short End of the Stick?
"Graduate and professional students have long experienced ups and downs regarding financing their educational endeavors. Over the past several decades, changing priorities in Washington, implemented by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services have resulted in triumphs as well as ...
Leveling the Playing Field for Student Parents
Even among higher education professionals, people are often surprised to learn that students with children (i.e., student parents) comprise more than a quarter of the student population. Student parents now total 4.8 million nationwide, according to an analysis of 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPS...
Helping Students Make Cents of College Costs, Financial Aid, and Net Price
Every year, millions of students and families grapple with the daunting questions of whether to go to college, which schools to apply to and ultimately attend, and how to pay for it all. Too often, families approach what may be the most important financial decision of their lives armed with incomplete or confusing inf...
FAFSA’s Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Questions - Opening Doors or Creating Confusion?
In March 2013, NASFAA’s 17-member Reauthorization Task Force (RTF) included in its reauthorization recommendations moving homelessness from the definition of independent student status to an example of override authority under professional judgment (PJ). The RTF’s recommendation responds to financial aid administrator...
Student Loans: Crisis, Bubble, or Manageable Policy Issue?
Almost every article on student loans either mentions that total student debt in the U.S. now exceeds $1 trillion dollars or compares student loan debt to the housing bubble that devastated the economy in 2008. In this article from NASFAA’s Student Aid Perspectives series, Independent Higher Education Policy Analyst S...
Are You Sitting Down? Communicating Bad News Effectively
Brad Mello, associate director for academic and professional affairs for the National Communication Association, describes the COMFORT model for breaking bad news. The model is comprised of seven specific communication competencies that are necessary when breaking bad health-related news: Communicating, Orientation, M...
Two Perspectives on Student Unit Records
The “Student Right to Know Before You Go Act,” is bipartisan legislation designed "to ensure that a wide range of comparative data about higher education programs is more readily available for prospective students and their families," according to the website of Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) who introduced the bill on...
Full Frontal Disclosure: A Financial Plan Families Can Bank On
Annual shifts in federal, state, and institutional budgetary priorities, and the process of reassessing student eligibility each year, make long-range college financial planning nearly impossible. We tell families to save and plan for college but we give them a financing model that is incomplete and violates the princ...
Making Higher Education Tax Credits Work
Millions of taxpayers qualify for help with education costs each year in the form of deductions on tuition and fees and student loan interest, tax-free growth in college savings plans, and tax credits to help pay for college expenses. Unfortunately, while tax credits may help some middle-income students, there is litt...
Keep Calm and Trust Us
Who can you trust these days? Gallup released the results of an interesting poll this past December where they posed the question, “Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields.” Members of Congress were at the bottom with only 10% of respondents assigning a “...
The Value of the EFC
"Are there potential changes to the treatment of income in Federal Methodology (FM) that could make it more effective? Absolutely," Jim Briggs, a seminar leader and financial aid consultant, writes. "Unfortunately, most are unlikely to be pursued in the near future. As Congress has shifted its focus to Federal Pell Gr...
Adapting Federal Student Aid for Twenty-first Century Lives
"Developments such as open courseware, competency-based programs, and advances in technology are rapidly outpacing the evolution of Uncle Sam’s postsecondary education funding mechanism," Marcus Szymanoski, manager of training and communications for regulatory affairs at DeVry Inc., writes. "These forces, among others...
Deferred Action for 'Dreamers': Advising DACA Students About Affording College
Although the DREAM Act has never been passed into law by Congress, certain young immigrants who are enrolled in or have graduated from high school may now be eligible to apply for temporary relief called “deferred action," Angela D. Adams, director in the Immigration Practice Group at Lewis Kappes, P.C., writes. "The...
Seven Ways to Provide Student Loan Debt Relief
"The desire to provide student debt relief to borrowers is tempered by concern about the cost to taxpayers when this government guaranteed debt isn’t fully repaid," writes David Berstein, a retired economist who worked in the Office of Economic Policy of the U.S. Treasury from 1988 to 2012. "In my view, it is possible...
The Power of the Presidency and Its Impact on Financial Aid
Craig Munier, director of Scholarships and Financial Aid for the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, writes about the role U.S. presidents play in the shape, structure and funding of the student aid programs. "The most obvious legislative tool the president uses to influence student aid is the presidential veto,...but t...
Collaborating to Improve Academic Progress: A Success Story
Rich Heath, director of financial aid, Detra Hooper, assistant financial aid director and SAP coordinator, and Bonnie Garrett, director of counseling, advising, and retention services for Anne Arundel Community College, divulge best practices to implementing the new requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP...
The Expected Family Contribution--What Do We Really Expect?
Many schools no longer list a FAFSA-driven Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on their award letters because it is "too confusing" and leads to "too many questions." The concern is certainly valid; the EFC can be both bewildering and misleading to families who don't understand what it means to them. But does simply av...
Collaboration Is the Key to Communicating College Costs
Douglas A. Levy, financial aid director for Macomb Community College in Warren, MI, and chair of NASFAA’s Award Notification Consumer Information Task Force, notes that accurately estimating and effectively communicating the cost of college and financial aid packages can be a real challenge. When students and parents...
Solving the Interest Rate Quandary: Two Feasible Proposals
Jason Delisle, director of the Federal Education Budget Project for the New America Foundation in Washington, DC, calls on policymakers to rethink how interest rates on federal student loans are set, arguing that the current method is "arbitrary, inflexible, and inequitable." In his Student Aid Perspectives article, D...
Federal Financing of Higher Education Requires a National Dialogue
In this edition of "Student Aid Perspectives," Brett E Lief, a board member for the National Student Loan Program (NSLP), advocates for a legislative process that restores the original importance of the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in 2013.
Myths and Realities about Rising College Tuition
Dr. David H. Feldman, Professor of Economics at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA writes, "The story of rising tuition is complex. Unfortunately, much of the public discussion about the cost of attendance is too simplistic. To understand the reasons for rising tuition, and the effect that this has on...
Congress Should Cut Tuition Tax Breaks Before Cutting Pell Grants Again
Stephen Burd, senior policy analyst for Education Sector, urges Congress to stop cuts to the government’s main federal student aid programs in 2012. Luckily, he writes, there is a better place for policymakers to find the savings needed to bail out Pell: tuition tax credits and deductions.
Will Occupy Wall Street Shake Loose Some Change?
Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org, writes that the Occupy Wall Street protesters' call to forgive all student loan debt may be unrealistic, but suggests that there are steps the federal government and colleges can take to address their concerns.