Graduate/Professional Community Town Hall, 9:45 - 10:45 am

By Allie Bidwell, Communications Staff

Members of the graduate and professional community gathered Tuesday morning with NASFAA staff and other leaders to discuss ideas for advocacy and points of concern moving into the next year.

Among the topics of discussion were student indebtedness and the possibility of limiting student borrowing, which will be discussed at a forthcoming session this afternoon. During that session, participants will also discuss issues around cost of attendance and with potentially moving to a “one grant, one loan” program. While financial aid professionals are concerned about their students’ borrowing, they’re also concerned with certain benefits being put at risk.

For example, one member asked about the potential for the Perkins Loan Program to continue and for graduate students to again be included. But NASFAA President Justin Draeger said the long-term prospects for the program are not good. However, Draeger said there is a space for members to advocate for their schools and students by making sure the program is closed out effectively so loans are assigned properly and schools get their money back.

Another member asked about the future of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and whether it could be eliminated. Although there are proposals to wipe out the program altogether, Draeger said there’s been enough pushback from advocates that it’s unlikely the program will be completely eliminated. However, lawmakers are aware of the program and are interested in making changes. Even a NASFAA task force suggested limiting for future borrowers the amount of money that can be forgiven.

Some members also expressed concern with proposed cuts to the Federal Work-Study Program and how that could impact graduate and professional students. Draeger said that the Trump administration’s budget proposal appears to intentionally target graduate students with its narrative. The budget proposed reallocating the money – after nearly halving the program’s funds – in a way that would better meet the needs of undergraduate students.

“I don’t see how you can take that any other way but another hit to graduate students,” Draeger said. “This is going to have to be an advocacy point for this community.”

However, Draeger said that the “good news” is that the budget proposal has not appeared to gain much traction with Republican lawmakers.


Publication Date: 6/27/2017

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