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today’s news for Wednesday, August 18, 2021

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NEWS FROM NASFAA

An increasing number of institutions of higher education are using the funds allocated in the latest federal coronavirus relief package to provide their students with debt relief as President Joe Biden further debates whether to issue widespread student debt cancellation. While these institutional debts may pale in comparison to the federal or private student loans borrowers hold, even small debts owed to schools can hold students back from continuing college and completing their degree.

As part of a grant-funded project NASFAA and the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) are partnering together to evaluate solutions that would streamline and improve the verification process to reduce verification burden for institutions and students. The Department of Education’s recent announcement waiving income verification requirements for the remainder of the 2021-22 award year might make this work seem less urgent but, in fact, it is more important now than ever. While the waiver provides welcome relief for the short term, it also highlights the need for long-term solutions to reduce verification burden. To aid this research we ask that members provide feedback via an online survey by next Friday, August 27. This brief survey should take you no more than 10 minutes to complete, and multiple responses per institution or organization are welcome. 

New text added to Dear Colleague Letter GEN-21-02 on August 16 reminding institutions about their authority to use professional judgment (PJ) to accommodate special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those related to unemployment and reduction in work, is intended solely as a reminder that existing guidance continues to apply, per clarification NASFAA received from the Department of Education. The August 16th update does not represent any change in ED’s PJ guidance.

NASFAA UPDATES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

As the seasons change, it’s a great time to change your NASFAA password, too. All site users are being asked to change their passwords in advance of upcoming site maintenance, which will take place October 8–11. If you haven’t done so in the past month or so you’ll be prompted to complete this when you next log in to nasfaa.org. Once complete, you’ll be directed to your intended location. If you don't complete this process by October 8, you'll be forced to reset the password on your next visit, and unable to access the site until you do so. You can visit the Change Password page now to update your information, and skip the reminder process if you prefer.

NASFAA recognizes that different programs have to follow different regulations. This new toolkit was created to help schools with clock-hour programs easily find the information they seek. Currently the toolkit includes links to some of our most searched for clock-hour-related questions and answers in the AskRegs Knowledgebase, a list of relevant resources in the Student Aid Reference Desk, and a link to register for and watch our on-demand "Don’t be Alarmed by Clock Hours" webinar, recorded November 18. If you have any suggestions on how to improve this toolkit, please let us know.

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