NASFAA Reauthorization Task Force To Focus Recommendations on Access and Accountability

The NASFAA Reauthorization Task Force developed a framework last week to advocate for needed changes to the federal student aid programs in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), and address public concerns about college access, transparency, and accountability.

In anticipation of the expiration of the Higher Education Act in 2014, NASFAA commissioned the HEA Reauthorization Task Force to consult with NASFAA members and other important groups and agencies to develop recommendations on policy issues and specific statutory changes in the federal student aid programs and their delivery systems. The Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, as amended, authorizes the major federal student aid programs.  Law mandates that Congress review and "reauthorize" these programs every five to seven years; the next reauthorization is scheduled for 2014, although the actual date will likely be later.

The task force convened this weekend to review NASFAA’s 2002 HEA recommendations and move forward with a plan to provide a new and updated list for HEA reauthorization by fall 2013. Task force members discussed a large list of potential recommendations, including:

  • Funding Pell Grant as a “true” entitlement and assure that such an entitlement will extend for ten years into the future. Currently, the Pell program operates as a quasi-entitlement program. Like an entitlement program, all eligible Pell Grant applicants receive Pell funding. However, the program is mostly funded by discretionary funds, which are subject to the annual congressional appropriations process, which makes the program unpredictable.
  • Increasing both the Pell Grant minimum and maximum awards to improve access to the neediest students. The 2002 list recommended a higher minimum award, however, per the Pell Grant formula this would reduce the number of recipients. Task force members discussed how increasing the minimum and the maximum together would eliminate eligibility for some students, but mitigate that with expanded eligibility for the neediest students.
  • Permitting schools to provide notice to students on their policies for paying allowable charges other than tuition, fees, and institutionally-contracted room and board with Title IV aid and allow students to opt out. 
  • Eliminating the provisions that require schools to track Selective Service registration. Task force members agreed that compliance can be attained in more cost effective ways and with less paperwork and bureaucracy than through use of the Title IV programs.

The group also broadly discussed need analysis and consumer information.

  • Need analysis: The group decided it would focus, but not limit itself to dependency status, auto-zero, simplified needs tests and the overall issue of the use of tax information to determine need and the use of prior-prior year income.
  • Consumer disclosure: The group plans to explore a comprehensive review of disclosure requirements and evaluate the recommendation that when a new disclosure is added, another is eliminated.  

To further review prior recommendations and discuss new ones, the task force will convene four subcommittees to focus on (1) need analysis (including FAFSA issues), (2) student loan issues, (3) consumer information and (4) return of Title IV funds. The group as a whole will review and determine recommendations on the Pell Grant program and other broad issues like campus-based aid. 

The task force will convene again at the NASFAA Conference in Chicago this July.

Listening Sessions

The task force also will hold listening sessions to solicit recommendations and reactions from the financial aid community. As currently scheduled, listening sessions will be held at the following conferences. Additional listening sessions are being added regularly. 

Event  Task Force Members  Date  Location 
       
Assn. of Private Sector Colleges and Universities Tom Babel June 20-22 Las Vegas, NV
Michigan Conference Pam Fowler June 24-27 Mackinaw Island, MI 
NASFAA Conference Ron Day July 22 Chicago, IL
NACUBO Tom Babel July 28-31 National Harbor, MD
COHEAO Tom Babel July 31-Aug. 2 St. Louis, MO
NYSFAAA   Mike Pede, George Chin Oct. 9-11 Saratoga, NY
RMASFAA   Robert Gamez, Craig Munier Oct. 14-17 Omaha, NE
MASFAA Tom Babel Oct. 14-17 Milwaukee, WI
College Board National Forum Bonnie Joerschke, Mark Lindenmeyer, Frank Valines, Pam Fowler Oct. 24-26 Miami, FL
SWASFAA   Nov. 14-16 San Antonio, TX
California Community College Assn. (CCCSFAAA) Pat Hurley Dec. 8-9 Sacramento, CA
California Conference Pat Hurley Dec. 9-1 Anaheim, CA
       

 

Publication Date: 4/4/2012

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