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today’s news for Monday, November 22, 2021

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NEWS FROM NASFAA

The House on Friday, following a late night vote series, advanced legislation containing President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which includes a $550 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award. The package was sent to the Senate along a 220-213 near party-line vote and will now require a simple majority of the latter chamber in order to reach the White House.

Top Democratic senators are urging Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to return defaulted student loan borrowers to good standing before payments on federally-held student loans resume in February after a nearly two-year hiatus. In a letter to Cardona, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and six other senators said the Department of Education (ED) “has an opportunity to relieve a significant burden on borrowers by developing a policy to forgive debts for borrowers who have been in default for an extended period of time.”

As student loan payments are soon to resume for borrowers following a nearly two-year hiatus, the Department of Education (ED) is still trying to determine whether it has the authority to forgive large amounts of student loan debt without legislation from Congress, ED Under Secretary James Kvaal said Friday. Kvaal’s comments on student loan forgiveness came during a wide-ranging keynote address to cap off The Chronicle of Higher Education’s virtual festival, where he touched on several key topics, including the prospect of tuition-free community college becoming a reality in the future and ways the department is trying to restore the public’s trust in higher education.

NASFAA UPDATES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

If you have a program offered in modules and you don't use a return of Title IV funds (R2T4) Freeze Date (RFD), you must include the days in a course or module in the denominator of an R2T4 calculation if: For students eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG), or a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, if the student attended at least one day in the course/module; or for students eligible for a Direct Loan or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) funds during the period, if the student attended at least one day in the course/module or was enrolled or registered in the course/module for the period at any time on or after the first day of the period, even if the student did not attend the course/module. View the full answer to this question to learn more.

The next cohort of Blue Icon's new director group coaching begins in January and covers compliance, professional development, operational calendars, and strategic plans. The start date for the next six-week cohort is January 17, 2022. Register today to reserve your spot.

Opportunity for Recertification Points (RPs)

This year's virtual FSA Training Conference is a great opportunity for FAACs to earn up to 10 RPs, as it is a free event that does not require travel. To qualify for all 10 RPs, you will need to document that you attended at least 10 sessions. FSA's certificate of attendance tracks attendance cumulatively this year, so be sure to access your certificate at the end of the conference or soon afterwards. Upload a copy when you add the activity to your Dashboard under the category of Attendance at Professional Conferences.Visit our Recertification Activities webpage to view more eligible activities.

Still having a hard time wrapping your head around the new R2T4 rules? Then take a look at the NASFAA webinar Always Never the Same: What's New with SAP and R2T4? David Futrell shares scenarios and examples to help schools determine when a student is considered a withdrawal from a payment period or period of enrollment that includes modules, how to apply new R2T4 exemptions, and more. We also discuss new rules for students who graduate early from clock-hour programs. Make sure to view this short video, as the day after our original webinar aired on Sept. 29, 2021, we received word from the Department of Education that they will be changing the guidance related to the no R2T4 Freeze Date option that was discussed during the webinar. Register now.

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