Congress Urges ED To Implement PPY Now

By Megan McClean, Policy & Federal Relations Staff 

A bipartisan group of congressional members sent letters yesterday to Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging him to use his administrative authority to implement the use of prior- prior year (PPY) income data. The letters, sent by both the House and Senate, outlined the benefits of moving to PPY and cited the Secretary’s existing administrative authority as a vehicle to implement the change.

The existing administrative authority to implement PPY exists within Section 480(a) of the Higher Education Act and allows for the Secretary of Education to use data from the second preceding tax year as the base year on the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The law does not, however, provide a mandate, so the Secretary is not obligated to do so. The letter makes a case for the Secretary to exercise his authority immediately, stating, “Given the enormous benefits to students, families, and institutions of higher education, we strongly urge you to use your authority to allow the use of prior-prior year data on the FAFSA. This is an opportunity for swift and consequential action to support low- and middle-income students seeking a shot at the American dream through higher education, and would allow the federal government to simplify the process that millions of students and families experience when applying for aid.”

NASFAA has long advocated for PPY and has worked with congressional staffers and colleagues in the higher education community to help move the concept forward. Just last week, NASFAA held an event on Capitol Hill to roll out our most recent work on PPY, "Great Expectations: Implications of Implementing Prior- Prior Year Income Data for the FAFSA." In 2013, NASFAA conducted research on how PPY would impact Pell Grant awards, the results of which are found in "A Tale of Two Income Years: Comparing Prior-Prior Year and Prior-Year Through Pell Grant Awards."

“It is rare to find such overwhelming bipartisan support on any single issue,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “We stand with these members of Congress in urging the Secretary to make use of the existing authority to implement PPY as soon as possible to simplify the student aid process for students and families.”


Publication Date: 6/5/2015

Daniel S | 6/5/2015 4:5:51 PM

HIP HIP HOORAY!! Congrats to NASFAA and Justin for listening to the members and pushing this forward! Common sense may still be alive after all. Next lets push to enhance and SAVE PERKINS LOAN for our needy students. And lets not forget to thank our retirees who have long advocated for PPY as well as Dallas Martin.

John B | 6/5/2015 9:55:35 AM

To the U.S. Department of Education: I implore you to make this change for our students' sake. Upon implementation of this change, higher education institutions may commence processing official award packages much sooner. This will allow families more precious time to compare Net Price of institutions, make informed decisions, and to plan for the investment necessary.
With the ability to complete verification more quickly families won't have to experience the unfortunate reality of aid packages being revised due to errors in the initial application (for institutions who package aid based on initial FAFSA estimates). With PPY income FAFSA applicants using the Data Retrieval Tool can be assured their income data is correct, therefore significantly reducing the chances of their EFC changing due to the verification.
Providing students more timely awards with greater accuracy will enhance their ability to make the best choice of institution and more time to secure the resources necessary to accomplish their desired educational goals.

David S | 6/5/2015 9:26:01 AM

Encouraging, and high profile enough that I hope Secretary Duncan responds and lets us know what the Department plans to do. My observations are that ED legal staff usually proceeds very cautiously, and this would signify a major shift. I hope they let the aid community know what lies ahead as soon as possible though, because while these letters from the Hill reference students getting admissions letters (presumably for this coming fall) right now, the truth is that at many schools, the recruitment cycle for fall 2016 is already underway.

Maybe a big announcement in New Orleans?

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