Throughout 2015, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and its members in nearly 3,000 financial aid offices across the nation have advocated for students and their families.
“The association’s efforts this year have resulted in some significant policy changes that helped students and families better plan for and afford college--and advanced the national conversation about paying for higher education,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger.
As Congress continues to work on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, NASFAA in 2015 championed key policy initiatives and released several research-driven reports offering recommendations to guide congressional efforts.
Some of these initiatives have already been adopted by the Obama administration and Department of Education, and all would make interesting stories for your readership. Below, find a list of potential consumer-focused headlines you could use, along with additional information about NASFAA’s policy work.
In September, the Obama administration took executive action to allow the use of prior-prior year (PPY) income information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In doing so he sent a message to families, students, and higher education advocates across the nation: streamlining the FAFSA and allowing for easier, earlier application for financial aid is key to getting more low-income students to and through college. NASFAA has long supported the move to PPY and has conducted several studies that concluded the same thing – PPY will make it easier for students and families to file their FAFSA and access the aid they need to complete their education. For more NASFAA resources on PPY, visit our PPY resource page.
NASFAA’s FAFSA Working Group in July released a report offering recommendations to streamline the FAFSA for students and families of all income levels. Among other recommendations, the group suggested a tiered application that offers applicants a customized set of questions, rather than sticking with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. This approach would present the lowest-income students with the bare minimum number of FAFSA questions. Families with more complex financial circumstances would be able to utilize an expanded IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import the large majority of their application information directly from their tax return.
NASFAA President Justin Draeger in November shared with members of Congress widespread operational support shortfalls inherent to the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), a performance-based organization within the Department of Education. FSA has had successes over the years, “particularly in regards to simplifying the student aid form and improving their counseling tools,” Draeger said during the congressional hearing. But he added, “FSA is consistently falling short in other areas, particularly in their partnerships with schools, and that has detrimental effects on students.” Arduous regulatory and reporting requirements take already-limited time away from counseling students one-on-one. NASFAA offered several recommendations, including greater oversight and accountability for FSA and improved communication from FSA to schools and financial aid administrators. View our resource page for more on Draeger’s testimony and NASFAA’s recommendations.
According to a NASFAA report issued in February in partnership with the National Direct Student Loan Coalition, the Department of Education should take six steps to streamline student loan servicing and strengthen the relationship between servicers and borrowers. Among the recommendations was the suggested implementation of a single Department of Education student loan portal for all borrowers – a suggestion the Obama administration recently announced they would take on. View our report for our other recommendations.
A report released by NASFAA in August suggests that during the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), policymakers should restructure financial aid programs and policies to support and maximize student learning outcomes – what students actually know and can do – rather than how much time was spent in a classroom. The recommendations proposed in this report focus on better serving non-traditional students by accelerating time to degree completion, improving access, lowering total educational cost, and keeping student loan indebtedness to a minimum in order to meet the needs of both individual learners and the institutions serving these students. View our report for more on the recommendations.
To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 785-6959.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., 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.
Publication Date: 12/18/2015