By Owen Daugherty, NASFAA Staff Reporter
In a Dear Colleague letter released last week, the Department of Education (ED) notified institutions of higher education that they could use data from a student’s FAFSA to to help inform them of benefits and opportunities that may be available to them, including their potential eligibility for for federal benefits and assistance programs such as the new Child Tax Credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), among others.
In many cases, these are programs students may already be eligible for yet are potentially unaware of, ED Under Secretary James Kvaal noted in the letter, stressing the importance of using resources at the school’s disposal to help raise awareness of these benefits for students.
“In light of the pandemic, many students are struggling to stay in school and make ends meet, so it is crucial that they are aware of benefits that may be available to them,” Kvaal wrote.
ED made clear that institutions should limit usage of student FAFSA data to only what is required to inform their students about these benefits, and, if needed, provide to a student to verify their eligibility.
Further, ED is encouraging institutions to work with other campus stakeholders, such as student organizations, financial aid offices, faculty and staff advisors, and student groups, to widely share and inform students about the range of benefits for which they may be eligible.
ED outlined the full list of federal assistance programs available to students in the letter. Some of the benefit programs detailed have been expanded or extended due to the pandemic to include students, such as stimulus payments from the federal relief packages and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP).
Publication Date: 1/24/2022