2017 Year in Review: NASFAA's Policy, Research and Advocacy Efforts

In 2017, NASFAA and its members across the country made great strides in influencing important policy decisions about college access, affordability, simplification, and transparency. NASFAA engaged in numerous advocacy, public policy and research undertakings to support its mission of promoting programs that remove financial barriers and ensure student access to postsecondary education. With the help of 24 NASFAA members, the association held eight successful Advocacy Pipeline events on Capitol Hill this year. NASFAA also added to its advocacy resources a policy priorities list and three new “Issue Brief” one-pagers on administrative cost allowance, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and origination fees. Read on for a comprehensive list of other actions NASFAA and its members took in 2017.

Reports

Final Report of the Assessing Tuition- and Debt-Free Higher Education Task Force (January 2017)
Convened in July 2016, the Assessing Tuition- and Debt-Free Higher Education Task Force was charged with evaluating the implications and tradeoffs of tuition-free and debt-free college for institutions of higher education and the broader higher education landscape.

Improving Oversight & Transparency at the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid: NASFAA Recommendations (May 2017)
In this report, NASFAA takes a critical eye to FSA's operations and — after benchmarking it against other federal PBOs, interviewing former federal officials and employees, and examining complaints from federal partners, Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and other federal watchdog groups — concludes organizational and structural changes are needed in order to help FSA meet its congressionally mandated objectives as a PBO.

Graduate and Professional Loan Limits Task Force White Paper (August 2017)
NASFAA convened the Graduate and Professional Loan Limits task force to make recommendations that would ensure that graduate and professional students’ needs are adequately considered in upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Designing Regulations to Protect Federal Student Loan Borrowers: Closed School Discharge Recommendations Paper (November 2017)
NASFAA examined existing and proposed provisions for closed school discharge from the perspectives of equity and efficiency, and provided seven recommendations that underscore the importance of policies that balance the interests of students, institutions, and taxpayers in the event of school closings.

Hearings

NASFAA Submits Statement on DRT Outage Ahead of Congressional Hearing (May 3, 2017)
In a statement submitted to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, NASFAA President Justin Draeger said he is "looking for an explanation" of why users of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool "were not informed of this outage."

Improper Payments in the Federal Government: Student Aid Hearing (May 25, 2017)
During a joint hearing of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs, NASFAA President Justin Draeger testified on Thursday, May 25, on the topic of improper payments in federal student aid.

NASFAA Encourages ED to Strike a Balance Between Institutional Accountability, Student Protections (July 11, 2017)
NASFAA Vice President Megan Coval testified on behalf of NASFAA at a day-long hearing at the Department of Education's (ED) headquarters regarding ED's intent to reopen negotiations on gainful employment and borrower defense to repayment regulations.

NASFAA Urged ED to Weigh Burden And Benefit in Regulatory Reform Hearing (October 4, 2017)
Karen McCarthy, NASFAA Director of Policy Analysis, testified during a public hearing on regulatory reform hosted by ED and identified several regulations that are overly burdensome for financial aid professionals and in some cases create barriers for students.

NASFAA Testifies Before Congress on Balancing FAFSA Simplification and Program Integrity (November 28, 2017)
During a U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on November 28, NASFAA President Justin Draeger testified on how to streamline the FAFSA, ensure program integrity, and accurately target federal funds.

Letters

Higher Education Community Letter in Support of BRIDGE Act (January 12, 2017)
NASFAA joined in a letter coordinated by the American Council on Education in support of the BRIDGE Act, which would grant DACA recipients or those eligible for DACA temporary relief from deportation and work permits for three years.

Community Letter to House on Teacher Preparation Program Regulation Repeal (February 6, 2017)
This letter, led by the American Council on Education and supported by NASFAA, endorses H.J. Res. 58, which would strike the teacher preparation regulations finalized in October through the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

NASFAA FY 2018 Appropriations Request Letter (March 31, 2017)
NASFAA sent a letter to leaders in the House and Senate outlining priorities on federal student aid funding for fiscal year 2018, which affects award year 18-19.

NASFAA Letter on New FSA COO (June 2, 2017)
NASFAA sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos offering advice and counsel regarding desirable characteristics for a new Federal Student Aid (FSA) Chief Operating Officer (COO).

PPY Codification Letter (June 13, 2017)
This coalition letter urges Congress to codify the use of "prior-prior year" (PPY) income information on the FAFSA through legislation.

NASFAA Requests Reprieve and Review of VONF Requirements, Data in Letter to ED (July 27, 2017)
NASFAA urged ED to press pause on the “burdensome” Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Verification of Nonfiling (VONF) requirements for independent students and families that do not file a federal tax return.

NASFAA Sends Letter to House Education Committee Ahead of PROSPER Act Markup (December 8, 2017)
In a letter sent to members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, NASFAA said that while it supports several provisions in the reauthorization bill, some "serious concerns and questions" remain regarding others.

Comments

NASFAA on many different occasions throughout the year submitted comments or requests for action on established regulations, policies, processes, or other issues concerning student financial aid or other related areas of higher education. Topics included the wind down of the Federal Perkins Loan Program, implementation for the reinstatement of year-round Pell, administrative burden caused by the unexpected IRS Data Retrieval Tool outage, among others. Below are some highlights—head to our Department of Education Regulatory or Process Issues or Other Executive Branch Departments page to see all the comments and requests for action submitted in 2017.

NASFAA Comments on CFPB’s Proposed Information Collection (April 20, 2017)
On April 20, 2017, NASFAA submitted comments to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) in response to its proposed information collection related to student loan servicing market monitoring.

NASFAA Submits Comments on Proposed 2018-19 FAFSA (June 14, 2017)
NASFAA reiterated concerns about the new data security solution that will mask DRT data during the application process.

NASFAA Comments on ED Renegotiation Proposal (July 13, 2017)
NASFAA submitted comments on ED's announcement that it intends to renegotiate two controversial areas of regulation: borrower defense to repayment and gainful employment.

NASFAA Submits Comments on Burdensome Regulations (September 11, 2017)
NAFSAA submitted to ED comments on areas of regulation that need revision, per a June 22 request in the Federal Register.

NASFAA Urged ED to Resolve & Issue Privacy Guidance Quickly (November 17, 2017)
NASFAA, along with several partner organizations, sent a letter to ED about verbal guidance given by ED's Privacy and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) that has upended many years of common practice.

 

Publication Date: 12/21/2017


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