NASFAA Hosts Town Hall Webinar for Graduate, Professional Community

By Allie Bidwell, Communications Staff

NASFAA on Wednesday hosted a webinar for the graduate and professional aid community to brief members on federal legislation and updates from Washington, and to address questions about recent changes to federal financial aid programs.

The topics of discussion included the expiration of the Perkins Loan Program and guidance for grandfathering certain students, concerns surrounding potential future changes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness, gainful employment program reporting, the move to the use of prior-prior year income data on the FAFSA, and the forthcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

NASFAA staff also discussed the federal budget and debt ceiling, as well as the continuing impacts of sequestration.

But much of the federal action related to higher education and financial aid is in a holding pattern, NASFAA President Justin Draeger told participants, due to the highly politicized climate in Congress.

“If you’ve been paying attention to D.C., you know not a lot has changed in terms of the level of partisanship that is happening,” Draeger said. “That presents some difficulties when we’re trying to predict what can or will move.”

Draeger added that whether the country reaches the debt ceiling could have a bigger impact on higher education and financial aid than if Congress fails to produce a longer term budget resolution, resulting in a government shutdown.

The reauthorization of HEA, Draeger said, continues to be a game of “hurry up and wait.” It’s unlikely that Congress will reauthorize HEA before the 2016 presidential election, Draeger said, but NASFAA has and will continue to be involved in discussions around policy proposals.

NASFAA staff also clarified guidance for institutions on how to proceed with administering the Perkins Loan Program, which expired on September 30, despite advocacy efforts from several policymakers and higher education associations, including NASFAA.

If schools made their first Perkins disbursement to a student prior to October 1, 2015, they may continue to make further disbursements through the 2015-16 year, and may increase the award amounts for 2015-16. But the students who are first-time Perkins Loan recipients in this scenario cannot receive additional Perkins Loans beyond the 2015-16 award year.

Schools may also grandfather certain students into the program and continue to award new loans to students through September 30, 2020, if the student:

  • Received at least one Perkins disbursement on or before June 30, 2015 (for the 2014-15 award year or an earlier award year);
  • Is enrolled at the same institution as the last Perkins disbursement in the 2014-15 or earlier award year; and
  • Is in the same academic program as when that last disbursement was made.

Please note that for grandfathered students, the school attended and program of study criteria go back to the last disbursement of the student’s Perkins Loan made in the 2014-15 award year or earlier.  There is also a provision concerning subsidized loan eligibility, which does not apply to graduate and professional students.

If you’d like to review the entire webinar, keep an eye out for an announcement in Today’s News when the webinar archive is posted online.


Publication Date: 10/22/2015

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