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today’s news for Thursday, June 17, 2021

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NEWS FROM NASFAA

Top Democrats from the House and Senate unveiled legislation on Wednesday that would gradually double the maximum federal Pell Grant award over a five-year period and extend eligibility to those enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, commonly known as “Dreamers.” The proposal is the first step in making President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to double the key financial aid award for low-income students a reality.

In testimony to the Senate Appropriations Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) subcommittee, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona covered a wide range of proposed higher education investments within President Joe Biden’s annual budget request, arguing for urgency in increased federal contributions. “We recognize that if we don’t act with urgency, we’re going to lose many of our students that are thinking of higher education as an opportunity to continue their growth,” Cardona said.

No borrowers with Direct Loans (DL) entered default during the previous quarter, as all but 500,000 borrowers were taking advantage of the federal forbearance period that paused payments and interest accrual on all federally held student loans, according to quarterly data released this week by the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). The outstanding federal student loan portfolio increased by $49 billion since this time last year and now stands at $1.59 trillion, held by just under 43 million borrowers. 

The Department of Education (ED) in a Federal Register notice today announced that removal of the  FAFSA’s drug conviction and Selective Service eligibility criteria for the upcoming 2021-22 award year will be effective June 17. ED recently announced a phased implementation of changes to the FAFSA as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, with the majority of the changes set to be completed by award year 2024-25, a year later than originally outlined by Congress. Institutions of higher education may implement specified changes to the eligibility criteria concerning drug conviction and Selective Service eligibility beginning as soon as June 17 and must have those criteria changes in place by August 16.

NASFAA UPDATES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

Are you attending NASFAA's 2021 Virtual Conference next week? Don't miss the opportunity to debrief with your peers through several Let's Talk sessions, hosted by Blue Icon Advisors. These sessions, available only for institutions registered for the NASFAA 2021 Virtual Conference, give you the opportunity to engage with peers, learn from presenters and each other, share information, and discuss best practices. Register for a Let's Talk session today!

We're scheduling Standards of Excellence (SOE) and Consumer Information Assessment reviews for fall 2021. Both services offer an objective, confidential peer review program that assesses your institution's administration of federal financial aid. Customized reviews will highlight strengths, identify compliance exceptions, and recommend improvements. Complete our simple information request form to learn more about NASFAA’s peer review services.

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