March 13, 2019— Opinions abound when it comes to making changes to higher education policy, but today’s colleges, universities, and trade schools are as diverse and complex as the students they serve. Recognizing that the individuals working in the various offices across these campuses bring their own unique and valuable perspectives, the Higher Education Committee of 50—a group facilitated by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and funded through a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant—was formed to think through how best to help students succeed in their pursuit of a higher education. This group today released 36 comprehensive, practical recommendations, giving on-the-ground practitioners who work with students each day a seat at the table.
The committee—comprised of college presidents, members of governing boards, enrollment managers, admissions staff, financial aid and bursar leaders, students, and other leaders from all sectors of postsecondary institutions—spent the last 18 months examining policy areas related to college access, affordability, accountability, and transparency to produce their final recommendations.
The recommendations, which will be presented to Congress, are intended to improve the experience of students and families in affording and obtaining a higher education, as well as protect the interests of taxpayers and those who work on college campuses. Among the three dozen recommendations for lawmakers are:
Requiring the U.S. Department of Education to provide more transparency on the verification-selection process through the FAFSA, with the goal of reducing the number of FAFSA applications selected for verification.
Requiring the U.S. Department of Education to develop and add a dynamic, user-tested truth-in-lending calculator and annual debt letter to entrance counseling and the federal web portal for borrowers (StudentLoans.gov).
Permitting students to file a FAFSA that would allow financial aid consideration for multiple years (e.g., a one-time FAFSA).
Eliminating higher education tax credits and put those funds into the Federal Pell Grant program.
Lifting the ban on collecting student unit-record level data and develop a Student Unit Record Data System (SURDS).
Returning the 90/10 rule ratio to 85/15. Also, including U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) military tuition assistance benefits and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits as part of the calculation of federal revenue (i.e. the 85%, from which these benefits are currently excluded).
Simplifying and improving the current financial aid application process by implementing NASFAA’s proposed three-level application process, expanding the functionality of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, considering a multi-year FAFSA, and/or considering use of the federal tax return as the aid application.
To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson or member of the Higher Education Committee of 50 about this grant initiative or specific recommendations provided in the group’s final report, email NASFAA Director of Marketing & Communications Erin Powers at [email protected].
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org.
Publication Date: 3/13/2019