A bipartisan group of congressional members sent letters yesterday to Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging him to use his administrative authority to implement the use of prior- prior year (PPY) income data. The letters, sent by both the House and Senate, outlined the benefits of moving to PPY and cited the Secretary’s existing administrative authority as a vehicle to implement the change.
The existing administrative authority to implement PPY exists within Section 480(a) of the Higher Education Act and allows for the Secretary of Education to use data from the second preceding tax year as the base year on the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The law does not, however, provide a mandate, so the Secretary is not obligated to do so. The letter makes a case for the Secretary to exercise his authority immediately, stating, “Given the enormous benefits to students, families, and institutions of higher education, we strongly urge you to use your authority to allow the use of prior-prior year data on the FAFSA. This is an opportunity for swift and consequential action to support low- and middle-income students seeking a shot at the American dream through higher education, and would allow the federal government to simplify the process that millions of students and families experience when applying for aid.”
NASFAA has long advocated for PPY and has worked with congressional staffers and colleagues in the higher education community to help move the concept forward. Just last week, NASFAA held an event on Capitol Hill to roll out our most recent work on PPY, "Great Expectations: Implications of Implementing Prior- Prior Year Income Data for the FAFSA." In 2013, NASFAA conducted research on how PPY would impact Pell Grant awards, the results of which are found in "A Tale of Two Income Years: Comparing Prior-Prior Year and Prior-Year Through Pell Grant Awards."
“It is rare to find such overwhelming bipartisan support on any single issue,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “We stand with these members of Congress in urging the Secretary to make use of the existing authority to implement PPY as soon as possible to simplify the student aid process for students and families.”
Publication Date: 6/5/2015