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The final day of the Department of Education’s (ED) week of opening negotiated rulemaking hearings where stakeholders shared their thoughts on a slew of topics ED will consider in the coming months, with the participants again focusing on reforming the student loan lending program and calling on the department to address the growing cost to attend college. Bringing back effective gainful employment regulations, fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, and ensuring more students can access income-driven repayment (IDR) plans garnered much of the attention Thursday as the final day of hearings exceeded the expected duration as ED allowed more stakeholders to share.
The NASFAA 2021 Virtual Conference embarked on detailed conversations on Thursday’s breakout sessions, covering some of the most pressing issues facing the financial aid community. With insight from the Department of Education (ED) leadership — which included Richard Cordray, chief operating officer at the Office of Federal Student (FSA), and Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper, who serves as acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education — NASFAA provided members with a thorough discussion of the pathway forward for a host of financial aid centered topics ranging from the negotiated rulemaking process, student loan repayments to implementing congressionally approved legislation, shedding light on how agency leaders will engage to shape the months and years ahead.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona continued advocating for Congress to speedily implement the Biden administration’s budget request with the House Education and Labor Committee seeking insight into a number of higher education investments. In highlighting the Department of Education’s (ED) higher education agenda, with investments in community colleges and Pell Grants, Cardona largely collected praise from Democrats while Republicans honed in on concerns over the size and scope of the budget, with both parties focused on the department’s approach to the current pause on payments and interest accrual on federally-held student loans.
This year, NASFAA recognized Dr. William A. Irwin, Lock Haven University director emeritus of financial aid, with its Lifetime Achievement Award; 2020-21 National Chair Brenda Hicks, director of financial aid at Southwestern College, with the Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award; and G. Michael Johnson, Columbia Gorge Community College director emeritus of financial aid, with the Meritorious Achievement Award. The Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award was given to Tiffany Jones and Jamie Ramirez-Mendoza of The Education Trust, the Gold Star Award was given to Western Governors University, and six Regional Leadership Awards were given to Zita Barree, Kristin Bhaumik, Lauren Jackson, Kristi Jovell, Ken Kocer, and Ashley Munro. Review the full list of award recipients and please join us in congratulating them all.
Please join us in congratulating Joshua North, FAAC®, formerly the director of financial aid at Highland Community College, who is now the director of financial aid at Bridgewater College, and Vanessa Thompson, of Washington Adventist University, who was recently promoted from financial aid advisor to director of financial aid. Celebrate your own career developments by completing the "Movers and Shakers" form to share the news with your colleagues.
Thanks to everyone who took a trip through the Student Aid Reference Desk scavenger hunt last week! We are pleased to announce our five randomly selected winners are: Allyson Vancount of Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College; Barbara Evans of Washburn University of Topeka; Denise Lickteig of Peru State College; Jennifer Archer of Catawba Valley Community College; and Jessica Butterfield of North Arkansas College. We'll be running our scavenger hunt through July 2, 2021, so there's just one week left to go. Make sure you enter if you haven't already. Complete this form with your scavenger hunt answers to be entered to win next week's prize.