ED Secretary Says Department Is Revamping FSA to Be More Customer-Friendly

By Karen McCarthy, Policy & Federal Relations Staff

As part of efforts to improve the customer experience at the Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) and bring it into alignment with other large financial institutions, the FAFSA will move to a mobile app, according to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Speaking at her first Federal Student Aid Training Conference since assuming the role of secretary, DeVos focused her remarks on Tuesday on the administration’s high-level postsecondary priorities and plans for ED. While more details about the FAFSA mobile app will be presented by FSA Chief Operating Officer A. Wayne Johnson during his keynote address this morning, DeVos yesterday previewed the forthcoming mobile app as a concrete example of her commitment to improve service to students and borrowers.

Referring to her directive for FSA to rethink how it operates, she said, “That means bringing federal financial services into today’s reality – and looking ahead to the next generation. FSA will look and function like a world class, customer-centric financial institution, not a government maze.”

DeVos stressed the need for FSA to be more responsive to the changing workforce landscape and the realities of today’s economy by better supporting historically non-traditional educational paths and innovative learning models, such as industry-recognized certificates, credentials and licensures, badges, micro-degrees, and apprenticeships.

Emphasizing that there is no one-size-fits-all path for students and there are many avenues to gain what individual students need, she said, “If it’s the right fit for the student, then it’s the right education.

Stating that the federal government should not dictate how and when they can learn by withholding financial aid for non-traditional paths, she cited the restoration of the year-round Pell Grant as “ a common sense step to help students save money and take more control of their own education journey.”

As might be expected from a Republican administration, DeVos referenced regulatory bloat and burden several times in her speech and chastised the previous administration as having a “heavier hand,” which led to a process that is overly complicated, cumbersome, and confusing. Citing “layers of bureaucracy” and “mountains of paperwork,” DeVos also recognized the impact of regulatory burden on financial aid administrators’ ability to focus on counseling. She stated, “Please know we are working to reduce the regulatory burden on all of you, so you can focus on your true calling: advising and guiding students.”

Stay tuned to Today’s News for continued coverage of the FSA conference this week.


Publication Date: 11/29/2017

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