NASFAA Statement On Sen. Harkin’s Higher Education Affordability Act

Aid Administrators Encouraged By Inclusion Of Key Financial Aid Community-Backed Proposals 

WASHINGTON, DC, June 26, 2014 — Yesterday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, introduced a draft of the Higher Education Affordability Act (HEAA). Designed to increase college affordability, address loan debt, strengthen accountability, and improve transparency, the bill includes several key issues for which the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) has been advocating.  

NASFAA President Justin Draeger issued the following statement:

“NASFAA commends Senator Harkin for including several elements in this proposed legislation that are strongly supported by the financial aid community, including a move toward using prior-prior year tax data in need analysis, restoring year-round Pell Grants, including “ability to benefit” eligibility criterion for certain programs, and expanding early notification of potential financial aid eligibility to students. 

We are pleased that Senator Harkin is taking steps in this bill to address student debt issues. Consolidating the various income-driven repayment plans into a single plan will make it easier for students to understand and use those benefits. Automatically enrolling delinquent borrowers into income-driven repayment will help spare borrowers from the awful consequences of loan default.  

NASFAA supports the plan to allow students to refinance their federal loans, and to extend additional borrower protections and oversight into the private student loan market. The inclusion of private education loans and loans made under Title VII and Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) would give borrowers a comprehensive snapshot of their total educational debt burden.  

We know this bill is just a first step in the reauthorization process, and look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure there are no unintended consequences related to proposed provisions on loan counseling, definitions and data on graduation and default rates, institutional accountability metrics, and new consumer disclosure requirements.  

On behalf of NASFAA’s 20,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges and universities, I commend Senator Harkin for introducing this important legislation that will spur this conversation forward.” 

Spokespeople are available to answer questions; please email news@nasfaa.org or call (202) 785-6944. 

About NASFAA  

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents nearly 20,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, DC, NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org