Hello, NASFAA members!
This week officially marks my fourth week as NASFAA’s Dallas Martin Endowment (DME) policy intern. There is a lot going on and excellent work being done. Despite this past week being the week of the Fourth of July, I am learning as much as I did during my first week!
On Monday, I attended a public hearing about negotiated rulemaking at the Department of Education’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. Prior to attending, I had never been to a hearing or had any experience with the process behind negotiated rulemaking. The only expectation I had was to learn something new.
The purpose of this hearing was to give the public a chance to voice their concerns or support regarding the Department of Education’s intent to reopen negotiations on gainful employment and borrower defense to repayment rules. During this hearing, the recent closure of for-profit institutions was discussed.
Some of the most problematic outcomes of the recent closures of for-profit institutions related to non-transferrable credits, the accruing debt of federal student loans with no degree or certificate to show for it, and issues around gainful employment. Attendees who were present came from various backgrounds. All who spoke had intriguing information to share, and it truly showed how an issue can affect a variety of people in different ways. The group that was referenced the most while I was in attendance were military veterans, those who have served our country and later decided to pursue higher education of some sort at a for-profit institution. Due to the recent closures of some for-profit institutions, some of the hearing speakers discussed how there are now several veterans who are in difficult financial positions.
These speakers used this platform to shed light on an issue that has been directly influenced by policy. As a student, it took time for me to understand how certain rules and policies apply to my own financial aid. My eyes were opened to how critical it is to pay attention to the rules and who is making them because it is not second-nature for everyone to identify how particular groups of people will be affected. After this hearing, I do know that it is possible for necessary changes, accommodations, and improvements to be heard out and given the chance of being applied in the future.
One way I can summarize my experience at the hearing, is that you do not know what to exactly expect. As the podium is opened for community members to discuss and inform the public about how a rule may be less or more beneficial, it is impossible to leave without learning something new!
One more thing that I have recently learned is that no one is exempt to sunburn. As I tried to take advantage of the more pleasant, less humid Washington, D.C., weather, I fooled myself into thinking the sun would not leech on! Since my sunburn happened near the Lincoln Memorial and is my first sunburn, I will treat it as a memory and a lesson learned!
Throughout the rest of my time with NASFAA, I hope to attend more events that bring different communities together and continue to expand my understanding about the power of rules and policies.
Publication Date: 7/14/2017