NASFAA Members Discuss Pell Grants and More During Capitol Hill Visits

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) members met last month with representatives from Capitol Hill to discuss the Pell Grant program, origination fees, and ways to appropriately simplify the financial aid system. Andrew Harvey, Assistant Director of Financial Aid for Technical Services at Garrett College, was among one of many representatives from both community colleges and four-year institutions and universities who participated in the visits.

“Garrett College is proud to be a part of an organization and a committee which can get the attention of Congress on these important topics,” stated Cissy VanSickle, Director of Financial Aid at Garrett College.

Among the issues discussed related to the Pell Grant, NASFAA members urged congressional staff to maintain the mandatory inflation-adjustment to the maximum award, which is scheduled to expire after award year 2017-18 leaving the maximum Pell award at $5,920 in perpetuity absent congressional action.

“We’re talking about the neediest of the needy students” who are impacted by changes to the Pell Grant, “Harvey stated.

Members also discussed the need to do away with or at least reduce origination fees, which they described as de facto taxes on students and borrowers. The fees are “not transparent and in the age of transparency, this is an important issue,” explained Aristea Williams of University of Maryland University College (MD). “It’s a hidden tax that is hard for us to explain, and hard for students to understand.”

Deregulation and simplification were also discussed, including simplifying the FAFSA and reducing the administrative burden placed on financial aid administrators. The goal of deregulation and simplification should be to reduce the number of burdensome and unnecessary regulations that the financial aid office is responsible for, which would allow administrators to spend more time counseling students and families.

FAFSA simplification was also discussed, and the members urged staffers to work on codifying prior-prior year (PPY) and to coordinate with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to improve its Data-Retrieval Tool (DRT). Improving the DRT would, in particular, assist with verification issues like the need for a non-filer letter for those who do not file taxes. And while there have been some proposals to reduce the FAFSA to as few as two questions, the members cautioned against such a drastic reduction as it could create a greater burden on students through verification.

“We support simplification, but oppose over-simplifying the FAFSA,” Harvey said.
Other topics discussed were the possible return of Year-Round Pell, changes to state authorization regulations, and the future of the Perkins Loan program.

The Garrett College Financial Aid Office would like to remind parents and students that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may still be filed for the coming academic year. For those who have any questions, persons are encouraged to contact the Garrett College Financial Aid Office at 301-387-3080.

Pictured below from left to right are: Melinda Middleton, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Aristea Williams, University of Maryland University College (MD); Andrew Harvey, Garrett College.

NASFAA Members on Capitol Hill
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