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National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Releases Statement on College Affordability Act

New bill makes vital investments in Federal Pell Grant Program, attempts to simplify the FAFSA.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The House Committee on Education and Labor today released its comprehensive Higher Education Act reauthorization bill, the College Affordability Act. The bill increases funding to existing federal student aid programs, creates several new programs, and attempts to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), loan repayment, TEACH Grant, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) programs.

Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) issued the following statement about the bill:

"The College Affordability Act (CAA) would make historic investments in students, particularly low-income students who are underrepresented in higher education. The bill strengthens and expands the existing federal student aid programs and adds new programs targeted toward vulnerable populations. 

For decades the Federal Pell Grant program has been the cornerstone of the federal student aid programs, and the CAA makes vital and necessary investments in that program. The bill would boost the maximum Pell Grant award, increase the maximum lifetime Pell eligibility to 14 semesters, and expand Pell eligibility to cover postbaccalaureate studies. The creation of new programs like the Emergency Financial Aid Grant Program and the Direct Perkins Loan further demonstrate a commitment to supporting student success. 

The repeal of the student unit record ban and the creation of a postsecondary data system are critical steps toward gaining the insights necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the Title IV federal student aid programs, and will clear a path toward better-informed, evidence-based decision making about the student aid programs for the future. 

The CAA makes significant strides toward simplification throughout the student aid lifecycle, including:

  • Dissociating Selective Service registration with student aid eligibility; 
  • FAFSA simplification efforts, including an automatic zero EFC for recipients of means-tested benefits; 
  • Automatic income monitoring for borrowers in income-driven repayment programs and for borrowers seeking loan cancelation for total and permanent disability;
  • TEACH Grant improvements that increase student and institutional flexibility; 
  • Improvements to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that automate processes and enhance program transparency. 

NASFAA is closely studying language in the bill that would codify the enforcement unit within the office of Federal Student Aid, with our priority being to ensure that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is equally focused on regulatory enforcement and institutional partnership. We are also examining provisions in the bill that would allow ED to regulate how schools estimate a portion of students' cost of attendance. We are pleased that such authority appears to be narrow and limited, but have concerns about granting new authority to a federal agency where none has existed previously.

NASFAA will be working with financial aid administrators across the country to better understand how new accountability metrics proposed in the law could impact institutions that serve different student populations. In addition, while supportive of the concept, we'll continue to examine how a one-time FAFSA for Pell-eligible students would work on campuses, and whether the difficulty of managing multiple cohorts of student applications add to or lessens burdens on students and schools. 

We appreciate and applaud the time and outreach Chairman Scott and other co-sponsors have dedicated to crafting this bill and we look forward to working with lawmakers as it moves through the legislative process."

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please contact Erin Powers, NASFAA Director of Marketing & Communications.

About NASFAA

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 28,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit http://www.nasfaa.org.