President Obama’s September 2015 announcement that beginning with the 2017-18 award year the Department of Education (ED) would use prior-prior year (PPY) income data for financial aid purposes is a big change for schools and students alike, but in the long run should help students with planning for and paying for their college education.
“I think it is exciting that you all are part of this change because I think when we look back in five or 10 years this is really going to be a positive thing,” NASFAA Vice President of Policy & Federal Relations Megan Mclean Coval told attendees at a Sunday conference session which provided an overview of the PPY Implementation Task Force’s work to date.
The task force was formed to identify potential roadblocks to successful PPY implementation and develop strategies to overcome those barriers, and is continuing to collaborate with ED to help ensure a successful PPY rollout, session presenters said. In addition, the task force will conduct a post-mortem after the first year of PPY and deliver final recommendations on the evolution of PPY going forward.
“All of us are empathetic and sympathetic to the fact that you’re all doing this on campus and we’re sort of sitting here in DC just saying 'Oh great! We got prior-prior year!' We understand it’s a big change. It’s one of the biggest public policy changes we’ve seen in student financial aid in the past couple of years and I think there could be, during implementation, a couple of bumps along the way, but I just encourage people to look at the big picture, and the end game” McClean Coval said.
Session presenters walked attendees through of the resources provided in the PPY Toolkit and 2014-15 NASFAA National Chair Eileen O’Leary of Stonehill College, pointed out the tools that admissions office staff and guidance counselors may find particularly helpful, including the Admissions Checklists for Financial Aid Professionals, Admissions Counselors, & Guidance Counselors and the Create a Financial Aid Timeline Tool which allows members to create a customized, shareable financial aid & admissions timeline.
"I think of all of the groups who are going to be effected by the change to prior-prior year the most unprepared, from what I can gather, seem to be the school counselors," O’Leary said. "And so this is something you might share with the school counselors that your college has a lot of contact with so that they can get a better lay of the land so they can see what they are going to be faced with come September," she suggested.
However, financial aid administrators and high school guidance counselors aren’t the only ones feeling a little anxious about the transition to PPY. Members of the task force reached out to a number of software vendors to determine where they stood and what they needed to get things ready for PPY, and found that software vendors’ readiness is largely dependent on federal readiness. "[The vendors] were very, very anxious for the information, and all the tables, and the specifications that the federal government uses to be provided to them on an earlier schedule and so we made that point very clear to the Department," said presenter Mark Lindenmeyer of Loyola University Maryland.
Vendors expressed, in the phone and email surveys conducted by they task force, that they wished they had received information from ED three months earlier than they received it and said they are "still very concerned about some of the missing pieces they are going to need to have their systems ready for the October 1 start up," Lindenmeyer reported. The task force will be passing the vendors' concerns along to ED so they can be addressed.
Publication Date: 7/10/2016