NASFAA President Justin Draeger issued the following statement:
“As the economy continues to improve and more Americans return to work, I’m encouraged to see President Obama continuing to invest in the federal aid programs that help students attain the education and credentials they need to secure well-paying jobs. These programs aim to ensure that our nation has the skilled workforce necessary to compete in today’s global market.
It is heartening to see the president’s commitment to fully funding Pell grants, which are the cornerstone of our student aid system and allow millions of students a year to afford higher education. With funding shortfalls for Pell grants looming, it is more critical than ever for lawmakers to affirm their bedrock commitment to sustaining this program at the level that students and families have come to rely on and expect.
We have all watched with growing concern as student debt levels have increased in recent years, stifling and slowing the financial growth of an entire generation of Americans. In this environment, repayment relief is more important than ever, and we commend the president for taking steps to extend eligibility for the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) repayment plan to all student borrowers. We must ensure that all borrowers understand and can take advantage of the benefits and protections inherent in our federal student loan system while also protecting the federal investment in higher education.
Our members welcome the conversation about simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), started by Senator Alexander and continued here by the president. The process of applying for financial aid must be easily understandable and accessible to students and families from all walks of life. Eliminating questions that are overly burdensome and of limited utility, as the president suggests, is an important step in this process. NASFAA has long called for removing questions unrelated to the assessment of financial need, namely those asking about past drug convictions and selective service status. However, limiting ourselves to a discussion about which questions, and how many, to eliminate in the pursuit of simplicity ignores the fact that 99 percent of students and families complete the FAFSA online and benefit from skip-logic that often helps them avoid the most complicated questions.
NASFAA continues to advocate for the use of prior-prior year income data on the FAFSA, which would allow many more families to simply import their financial information onto the FAFSA directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and expand the timeline for filing the FAFSA to better align with the admissions process. The Department of Education has the authority and capacity to make this switch now, and we call on the president to continue his demonstrated commitment to financial aid application simplification by directing Secretary Duncan to immediately work to implement this change.
On behalf of NASFAA’s 20,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges and universities, I once again thank President Obama for putting forth a budget that reverses the damaging cuts wrought by sequestration and affirms our nation’s deeply held responsibility to ensuring that a college education is affordable to all that are willing to work to achieve it.”
To better understand and navigate the process through which the federal student aid programs are funded each year, start by viewing NASFAA's interactive Federal Budget Process flowchart. For additional questions or to schedule an interview, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 U.S. Based in Washington, DC, 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 http://www.nasfaa.org.
Publication Date: 2/2/2015