2018 Year in Review: NASFAA's Policy, Grant, and Advocacy Efforts
In 2018, NASFAA and its members across the country made great strides in influencing important policy decisions regarding college access, affordability, simplification, and transparency. NASFAA engaged in numerous advocacy, grant-funded, and public policy undertakings to support its mission of promoting programs that remove financial barriers and ensure student access to postsecondary education. With the help of 26 NASFAA members, the association held eight successful Advocacy Pipeline events on Capitol Hill this year. NASFAA also added to its advocacy resources a timeline displaying the history of changes to financial aid verification and continued work to improve award notifications, publishing award notification examples intended to serve as samples for institutions about how they could implement the elements included in NASFAA's Code of Conduct into their financial aid offers and an award notifications video to foster greater understanding. It also updated its annual National Student Aid Profile. Read on for a comprehensive list of other actions NASFAA and its members took in 2018.
- Issue Brief: The PROSPER Act
Jan. 17, 2018 - Republicans on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce introduced the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, the first real step from this Congress in reauthorizing the HEA.
- Issue Brief: Loan Limits
Feb. 19, 2018 - Current loan limits established in the HEA no longer meet the needs of today's students. Some structural changes to the design of loan limits would improve the existing loan program.
- Issue Brief: Institutional Risk-Sharing
May 30, 2018 - NASFAA outlines the potential benefits and unintended consequences of so-called “risk-sharing” proposals, and how lawmakers can move forward with both students' and institutions' best interests in focus.
- Issue Brief: Financial Aid Award Notifications
Sept. 12, 2018 - Financial aid award notifications are the primary tool colleges & universities use to communicate eligibility for federal, state, & institutional financial aid programs to their prospective & current students.
- Issue Brief: Verification
Oct. 29, 2018 - In order to qualify for federal financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA. Each year, the Department of Education selects millions of applications for further review.
Assisting Displaced Students Working Group (2015–2018)
Since April 2015, NASFAA has been working to provide assistance to students whose schools closed while they were enrolled or shortly after they withdrew. With the help of grant funding, a ticketing website, and a working group comprised of NASFAA member volunteers, NASFAA has been able to assist more than 6,000 students from more than 30 closed institutions across the country.
- In June 2018, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE): Center for Association Leadership awarded NASFAA with a 2018 Power of A Award for its continued efforts to help this population.
- In September 2018, NASFAA announced its NextStepsEd website had been overhauled to allow students to obtain vital information on closed school federal loan discharge, borrower defense, Pell Grant eligibility restoration, and more even after grant funding for this project has ceased. After the online ticketing portal where affected students can submit requests for help with financial aid questions has been turned off, the informational website will live in perpetuity.
- In November 2018, NASFAA published an Assisting Displaced Students Working Group paper which sheds light on the struggles these students still face years after their schools have closed and offers five steps the Department of Education can take to improve the experience for students navigating school closures.
- Three forthcoming videos, currently in development, will be posted to the NextStepsEd website before Dec. 31, 2018, to further enhance students' understanding of the closed school federal loan discharge, borrower defense, and Pell Grant eligibility restoration processes. Also forthcoming is a website feature that will allow students to choose an interactive pathway—through a series of questions and checklists—which will walk them through determining their eligibility for closed school federal loan discharge, borrower defense to repayment, and Pell Grant eligibility restoration. This, too, will be added to the website before Dec. 31, 2018.
The Higher Education Committee of 50 (2017–2019)
In late 2017, NASFAA was awarded a grant to convene a group of forward-thinking campus leaders tasked with developing policy solutions that will help surmount obstacles preventing students from enrolling in, paying for, and graduating from college through pre-identified policy areas related to access, affordability, accountability and transparency. In 2018, the group held an in-person convening to kick-off their work and then spent the remainder of the year developing their policy recommendations. The committee came together for bi-monthly webinars to refine its ideas, published a series of blog posts to keep readers informed of its work, and released its draft recommendations for public comment in September 2018. In December 2018, the group voted on its final recommendations. The expected release date for the group's final report is March 2019.
- Postsecondary Data Collaborative Letter to NACIQI
Jan. 26, 2018 - NASFAA signed onto a letter to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality & Integrity (NACIQI) to emphasize the importance of high-quality data to students, institutions, policymakers, & accreditors for making informed decisions about higher education.
- NASFAA Submits Letter on Affordability
Feb. 5, 2018 - NASFAA submitted a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in advance of a hearing on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA).
- NASFAA Submits Letter on Accountability
Feb. 15, 2018 - NASFAA submitted a letter to the HELP Committee in response to a white paper outlining the committee's proposals for reforming federal accountability for higher education.
- Higher Education Community Urges Delay on House Reauthorization Bill
Feb. 15, 2018 - In a letter to the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader, several higher education associations, including NASFAA, outlined areas of concern in the PROSPER Act and requested a delay before the bill takes place before the full House.
- NASFAA Submits HEA Priorities to Senate Education Committee Leaders
Feb. 22, 2018 - In response to a call for feedback on the pending reauthorization of the HEA, NASFAA submitted a letter on behalf of financial aid administrators providing recommendations for Congress as the HEA process moves forward.
- NASFAA Submits Letter on PTAC Data-Sharing Guidance
March 9, 2018 - NASFAA wrote to the House and Senate appropriations committees to urge them to allow students to give written consent to financial aid offices to release their FAFSA information to approved entities, following verbal guidance from the Department of Education's (ED) Privacy and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) prohibiting this practice.
- NASFAA Submits Letter on FY 2019 Appropriations Request
March 28, 2018 - NASFAA sent a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees urging them to reject cuts to federal aid programs included in President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.
- Higher Education Community Letter to DHS on Timely DACA Processing
April 13, 2018 - NASFAA signed onto a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to emphasize the importance of timely processing all DACA renewal applications.
- NASFAA Urges House Budget Reform Committee to Establish "Efficient, Stable, and Predictable" Budget Process
June 19, 2018 - NASFAA wrote to lawmakers, stating that an efficient, stable, and predictable federal budget and appropriations process is imperative and ensures colleges and universities are best able to serve students and families.
- NASFAA, ACE Send Letter Asking ED to Make Institutions Whole on Their Perkins Outlays
July 11, 2018 - NASFAA sent a letter to ED alongside the American Council on Education (ACE) to clarify ED's obligation to reimburse institutions for Perkins Loans cancellations.
- NASFAA FY 2019 Appropriations Letter on Data-sharing and Pell Increase
July 26, 2018 - NASFAA urged House appropriators to support provisions in the Senate FY19 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill that would allow institutions to share FAFSA data with written consent from the student to organizations.
- NASFAA, ACE Urge ED to Delay a Recall of Perkins Funds and Reimburse Cancellations
Oct. 5, 2018 - NASFAA sent a second letter to ED alongside the American Council on Education (ACE) urging it to publicly announce its intentions to resume reimbursing institutions for cancelled Perkins Loans.
- NASFAA, EFC Send Letter Regarding TEACH Grant Program
Nov. 1, 2018 - NASFAA and the Education Finance Council (EFC) sent a letter regarding issues with the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program.
- NASFAA Signs on to Letter on Proposed Changes to Public Charge Policy
Dec. 10, 2018 - NASFAA joined more than two dozen other organizations in signing on to a letter sent to DHS, raising concern over the proposed rule on inadmissibility of immigrants and non-immigrants on public charge grounds.
NASFAA on many different occasions throughout the year submitted comments or requests for action on established regulations, policies, processes, or other issues concerning student financial aid or other related areas of higher education. Topics included PTAC data-sharing, timely DACA processing, student loan bankruptcy filings, and the delay of Perkins Loan refunds, among others. Below are some highlights—head to our Department of Education Regulatory or Process Issues or Other Executive Branch Departments page to see all the comments and requests for action submitted in 2018.
- Postsec Data Letter to Senate HELP Committee
Feb. 23, 2018 - This letter was submitted on behalf of 50 members and partners of the Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData), including NASFAA, in response to the call for comments and suggestions on topics to include in the reauthorization of the HEA.
- NASFAA Submits Bankruptcy Comments
May 22, 2018 - NASFAA submitted comments to ED in response to a request for information concerning ED's guidance pertaining to student loan bankruptcy filings.
- Comments on Proposed Rules on Borrower Defenses and Financial Responsibility
Aug. 30, 2018 - NASFAA submitted comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) addressing the regulation of borrower defense to repayment.
- Comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Gainful Employment
Sept. 13, 2018 - NASFAA submitted comments in response to the NPRM addressing the proposed removal of the Gainful Employment (GE) regulations.
- Comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Title IV Regulations
Sept. 14, 2018 - NASFAA submitted comments in response to the NPRM addressing a host of regulatory issues including state reauthorization, the definition of a credit hour, accreditation, TEACH grants, faith-based entities, and innovative learning models, among others.
- Comments on IRS Draft Tax Forms
Sept. 18, 2018 - NASFAA submitted comments in response to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Draft Form 1040 and other tax forms.
Publication Date: 12/14/2018