Friday, October 31, 2014

Are you 'just' a financial aid professional?

Are we just financial aid professionals? NO!

How many times have you walked a student to your office only to find out that their concerns were not directly related to financial aid? How do you respond? Do you help them? Do you send them to another office?

The financial aid professionals I know always, always, always help students in need. Do you often feel you should have several hats and a few more letters behind your name? I know I do! We need couches and boxes of tissues for counseling sessions, patents for our personal navigation endeavors, pom-poms for our cheerleading sessions, and a few more rooms in our homes for the amount of children we parent on a daily basis.

Although we frequently encounter: challenges, changing regulations, demanding students and parents, and piecemeal attempts at departmental collaboration, having a career as a financial aid administrator has always been rewarding. We have the pleasure of working and networking with the most compassionate, knowledgeable, and caring individuals.

The job we do cannot and should not be taken lightly, WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE. You may have been accidentally hired into financial aid like many, or promoted from work-study to life-study, but however you arrived, we are glad to have you here. Sit back and think of the amount of goals you have been instrumental in helping students and their families attain. We are more than professionals, we are servant leaders. We provide requisite training for our profession and we advocate for our students. WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

We may not get paid millions of dollars, but we receive an abundance of gratitude and smiles. If getting rich was a life objective, financial aid would not be our chosen profession. We are here because we genuinely love what we do and it shows in our state and regional associations. WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

As we switch hats throughout the day between being financial aid professionals, counselors, cheerleaders, therapists, and possibly more, life is easier when you recognize that you have colleagues to lean on who may experience the same hardships, challenges, and life-changing rewards.

WE DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the everyday lives of students! The reward of the accomplishments of students provides us each with additional compensation. While this compensation may not be monetary, it is fulfilling in many other ways. The power of networking and collaboration comes to life each time I call one of my friends in financial aid with the certainty that at the end of the conversation, I will feel less overwhelmed. Remember when you are working tirelessly, your SASFAA, VASFAA, and FASFAA families are here supporting you and working diligently as well and are more than happy to talk you through your day.

At the next in-person professional development event make sure you speak with someone you have not met before and exchange information. One day you will think to yourself, “Wow, I met this person at a conference, and I bet they will have the answer to this!” You may find yourself speaking to that same individual periodically throughout the year.

Be all that you can and gather as many resources as you can to continue to MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Stephanie Watson, FASFAA President &

Tarik Boyd, VASFAA President 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Protecting our Students - Legislative Relations Committee

Protect Students from Poor-Performing
Career College Programs

Obama Administration Announces Final Rules to Protect Students from Poor-Performing Career College Programs

New regulations put tough standards in place for career training programs to help protect students from being saddled with debt they cannot repay

To protect students at career colleges from becoming burdened by student loan debt they cannot repay, today the U.S. Department of Education is announcing regulations to ensure that these institutions improve their outcomes for students—or risk losing access to federal student aid. These regulations will hold career training programs accountable for putting their students on the path to success, and they complement action across the Administration to protect consumers and prevent and investigate fraud, waste and abuse, particularly at for-profit colleges.

"Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes. We will continue to take action as needed."

To qualify for federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs and certificate programs at private non-profit and public institutions prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation." Under the regulations finalized today, a program would be considered to lead to gainful employment if the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of his or her total earnings. Programs that exceed these levels would be at risk of losing their ability to participate in taxpayer-funded federal student aid programs.

The final gainful employment regulations follow an extensive rulemaking process involving public hearings, negotiations and about 95,000 public comments. The regulations, which will go into effect on July 1, 2015, reflect the feedback the Department received, and aim to protect Americans from poor career training programs by targeting those programs that leave students buried in debt with few opportunities to repay it. Highlights of the rule include:

Preventing students from being buried in debt: Based on available data, the Department estimates that about 1,400 programs serving 840,000 students—of whom 99 percent are at for-profit institutions—would not pass the accountability standards. All programs will have the opportunity to make immediate changes that could help them avoid sanctions, but if these programs do not improve, they will ultimately become ineligible for federal student aid—which often makes up nearly 90 percent of the revenue at for-profit institutions.

More rigorous accountability than previous regulations: The new regulations are tougher than the Department's 2011 rules because they set a higher passing requirement and lay out a shorter path to ineligibility for the poorest-performing programs. In 2012, the Department estimated that 193 programs would not have passed the previous regulations; with respect to these new regulations, based on available data, the Department estimates that about 1,400 programs would not pass the accountability metric.

Providing transparency about student success: The rule also provides useful information for all students and consumers by requiring institutions to provide important information about their programs, like what their former students are earning, their success at graduating, and the amount of debt they accumulated.

Improving student outcomes: The regulations build on momentum toward increased accountability in higher education by setting standards for career training programs, including programs offered by for-profit institutions, to ensure they are serving students well. While the Department has seen encouraging changes in the past five years, it believes all career training programs can and should meet higher expectations.

The Department also will lead an effort to formalize an interagency task force to help ensure proper oversight of for-profit institutions of higher education. In particular, the Department and other federal and state agencies will coordinate their activities and promote information sharing to protect students from unfair, deceptive, and abusive policies and practices. The task force will build on efforts already underway among various federal agencies, and include the Departments of Justice, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other agencies moving forward. In addition, state attorneys general will also be invited to continue their participation in this collaboration. Given the important responsibilities each of these federal agencies has, and the vital role that states play, the agencies will leverage their resources and expertise to assist one another, thereby making the best use of scarce resources and better protecting the interests of students and taxpayers. This task force will formalize and strengthen a working group that has been working together over the past year and that has coordinated efforts in several reviews and investigatory work. The task force will meet as needed, but at least once each quarter.

Background on the Administration's efforts to protect students from poor-performing career colleges
Too often, students at career colleges—including thousands of veterans—are charged excessive costs, but don't get the education they paid for. Instead, students in such programs are provided with poor quality training, often for low-wage jobs or in occupations where there are simply no job opportunities. They find themselves with large amounts of debt and, too often, end up in default. In many cases, students are drawn into these programs with confusing or misleading information.

The situation for students at for-profit institutions is particularly troubling. On average, attending a two-year for-profit institution costs a student four times as much as attending a community college. More than 80 percent of students at for-profits borrow, while less than half of students at public institutions do. Ultimately, students at for-profit colleges represent only about 11 percent of the total higher education population but 44 percent of all federal student loan defaults.
In response to these concerns, in 2009, the Department began extensive conversations with the higher education community about the role of career colleges, particularly on how they could be held accountable for the outcomes of their students. Following a 2012 court decision, which affirmed the U.S. Department of Education's authority to regulate in this area in order to protect students and taxpayers, the Department undertook new efforts to make sure career training programs provide affordable pathways to good jobs.

The Department believes many institutions have already started to take steps to improve. Some of the largest institutions have instituted trial periods for programs before students have to commit, so students can decide if that program is right for them. There are reports that institutions have decreased program lengths. Some are reducing costs. And a few institutions have closed some locations and programs they judge to be performing poorly.

More information about today's announcement, including a copy of the final regulations, can be found on the Department's website:

Submitted by:  Sharon Oliver, Legislative Relations Chair

Fall Board Meeting - November 2-4, 2014

Dear SASFAA Members & Friends:

Hope this finds each of you doing well and getting ready to celebrate the weekend.

Your SASFAA 2014-15 Executive Board will be meeting November 2-4th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  As you will see below, we have a FULL AGENDA to review/discuss/and act upon. 

I appreciate the opportunity that has been given to me to serve as your servant leader of this great association, and I feel that members should know what your elected officers will be doing to ensure that SASFAA remains strong and continues to address the concerns of our valued members, each one of you!

Sunday, November 2nd:
2:00 PM                                Budget & Finance Committee Meeting/GAP Committee Meeting/Conference Chair/ Membership Chair/Legislative Relations chair

4:30 PM                                State Presidents Meeting/4-6 PM Facilitator: Sarah Dowd                                                     
6:30 PM                                Dinner together for those who have arrived

Monday, November 3rd:
9:00 AM                                Call to Order, Welcome & Introduction of Guests       Nathan Basford
                                                Announcement of Substitute Voting
                                                Establish a Quorum
Welcome to Florida                                                                                                            Stephanie Watson

Action Items:
Recommendation: Parliamentarian change
Creating Treasurer-Elect position
Presentation of Slate of Officers/ President-elect, Vice President, Treasurer        Zita Barree
Presentation of SASFAA nominee’s for SASFAA Awards                                           Zita Barree

New Aid Officer Workshop 2015                                                                                     Marian Dill
Approval of Location
Approval of Instructors
Approval of Instructors contract

SASFAA Membership Classifications                                                                             Nancy Garmroth
NASFAA Investments                                                                                                          Zita Barree
NASFAA Recommendations on board tenure                                                                Nathan Basford/ All board members
Discussion on Vice President Term: Becoming Two Year Term                                 Nathan Basford/All board members
Recommendations for NASFAA Awards                                                                         Nathan Basford/all board members

I will provide an update after our meeting.  Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Legislative Meetings & Events

Legislative Meetings & Events Oct. 27 – Nov. 6

·         The U.S. House and Senate have adjourned and are in recess until after the November mid-term elections.

·         On Monday, October 27, 2014 and Tuesday, October 28, 2014 all-day, the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) holds its national conference entitled, “Elevating College Transition,” in Chicago, Illinois. The national conference brings together concurrent and dual enrollment practitioners, college officials and faculty, district and high school administrators, instructors and counselors, policymakers, and researchers interested in building and sustaining programs that allow students to earn college credit while in high school. 

·         On Monday, October 27, 2014 at 9:30 a.m., the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosts a panel discussion entitled, “Incentivizing State Reinvestment in Postsecondary Education.” CAP will also release a new report that will detail the declining investment from states and call for new federal funding to create a more affordable and better-quality system of public colleges. Panelists include: David Bergeron, vice president for postsecondary education policy, Center for American Progress; Ted Mitchell, under secretary, U.S. Department of Education; Sarah Audelo, policy director, Generation Progress; David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research, American Association of Community Colleges; and Ralph Wilcox, provost and executive vice president, University of South Florida.
·         On Monday, November 3, 2014  and Tuesday, all-day, the Association of State and Land-Grant Universities holds its annual meeting entitled, “Progress through Partnerships,” in Orlando, Florida. The meeting is the largest gathering of senior leaders from public research universities that examines the latest challenges and opportunities facing public universities and develops new ideas and initiatives to further strengthen its work.

·         Monday, November 3, 2014 is the deadline for submitting public comments on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed information collection titled, “Financial Coaching Program for Veterans and Low-Income Consumers.” In late 2014, the bureau will launch a Financial Coaching project to provide direct financial coaching services to transitioning veterans and economically vulnerable consumers nationwide. Over the next three years, it is estimated that tens of thousands of consumers will be served. The bureau is proposing a new information collection process to evaluate the program.

·        On Tuesday, November 4, 2014 all-day, general elections are held throughout the United States, including key races for control of the U.S. House and Senate.

·         On Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 1:00 p.m., the U.S. Department of Education holds its second and final public hearing for interested parties to suggest additional issues that should be considered for action by the negotiated rulemaking committee that will be formed to issue new regulations expanding the President’s Pay as You Earn (PAYE) Repayment Plan. The hearing will be held at the Marriott Anaheim in Anaheim, California. Tuesday is also the deadline for submitting written comments to the Department regarding additional issues for the negotiating committee to consider.

·         On Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 12:00 p.m., the Cato Institute holds a policy forum titled, “Federal Policy, the Election, and the Changing Ivory Tower.” The forum will discuss how federal policy should deal with the changing higher education landscape, including the rise in online classes, for-profit institutions, and competency-based programs. Panelists include: John Ebersole, president, Excelsior College; Barmark Nassirian, director for federal relations and policy analysis, American Association of State Colleges and Universities; Peter Smith, senior vice president for academic strategy, Kaplan Higher Education Group; and Neal McCluskey, associate director for the center for educational freedom, Cato Institute.

·         On Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 3:30 p.m., the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) holds a panel discussion entitled, “What the Midterm Elections Mean for Education Policy.” Two days after the election, AEI’s panelists will discuss state education initiatives, federal spending, and what the future may hold for policymakers wishing to implement education reform at the federal and state levels. Panelists include: Jeanne Allen, Center for Education Reform; Charles Barone, Democrats for Education Reform; Frederick Hess, American Enterprise Institute; Alyson Klein, Education Week, and Bethany Little, Education Counsel. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Final PLUS Loan Regulations

Final PLUS Loan Regulations

U.S. Education Department Announces Final Rule to Strengthen Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program

Click to view federal register (final rule) released on 10/23/14. 
The Department of Education announced publication of a final rule to strengthen the Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program today helping more students and families pay for college, and ensuring they have the tools and resources to make informed decisions about financing their educational pursuits. The new regulations will both expand student access to post-secondary education and safeguard taxpayer dollars by reflecting economic and programmatic changes that have occurred since the program was established more than 20 years ago.
"The Department's top priority is to ensure more students can access and successfully complete a postsecondary education," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "The updated borrowing standards for the PLUS loan program demonstrate our commitment to ensuring families have access to the financing they need to reach their goal, while being good stewards of taxpayer money."
The final regulations update the definition of "adverse credit history" for PLUS loan applicants, and implement a streamlined application process for borrowers to obtain a PLUS loan, specifically for those with adverse credit histories. Economic conditions have changed considerably in the last 20 years, and this update will ensure the regulations reflect current circumstances.
The Department also is taking action to provide families with clear, customized information about their loan obligations to support their college financing decisions and ensure their loan debt stays manageable. To better ensure families are aware of, can fully understand and are comfortable with their loan obligations, the Department is developing a new loan counseling tool that would provide customized information to assist PLUS borrowers. While PLUS borrowers with an adverse credit history determination would be required to complete counseling before their loan could be approved under the Department's reconsideration process, the tool will be made available to all PLUS loan borrowers.

Finally, to provide more transparency in the PLUS loan program, the Department will also collect and, where appropriate, publish information about the performance of PLUS loans, including default rate information based on credit history characteristics of PLUS loan borrowers and individual institutional default rates.

Prior to the final regulations issued today, the definition of "adverse credit history" under the regulations had not been updated since the Direct Loan program was established in 1994.
The development of the final rule reflects extensive outreach by the Department, including four public hearings across the country to gather feedback and recommendations from students, families, higher education leaders, and community organizations. The negotiated rulemaking committee then held four sessions from February to May, and reached agreement on the definition of adverse credit history under the regulation. These draft provisions were published in the Federal Register as a proposed rule (NPRM) on Aug. 8, and included a 30-day public comment period.
The final rule, which will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, Oct. 23, establishes a threshold debt amount of $2,085, indexed to inflation, below which a potential borrower is considered to not have an adverse credit history.
Other changes include:
  • Defining terms such as debt "charged off" and "in collection" to more accurately determine whether an applicant has an adverse credit history.
  • Reducing the time period of a borrower's credit history that is considered to determine adverse credit history from the last five years to the last two years for charge offs and collections.
  • Requiring that PLUS Loan applicants who, despite having adverse credit are able to receive a PLUS Loan based on either demonstrating extenuating circumstances or by obtaining an eligible endorser, participate in loan counseling.

Under the master calendar provision of the Higher Education Act (HEA), the final regulations are scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2015; however, the Department is designating the final regulations for early implementation under section 484(c)(2) of the HEA. The Department intends to work closely with stakeholders, including our college partners, as they implement the provisions of the new regulation. As current eligibility procedures such as adverse credit history determinations reside with the Education Department's Office of Federal Student Aid, we expect limited impact on current institutional procedures and processes for the packaging of student loans.
The Obama Administration has made historic investments to increases the maximum Pell grant award by $1,000, create the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit, and enact effective student loan reforms that eliminated subsidies to banks and reinvested in America's students and families to make college more affordable. Along with these efforts, today's actions expand college opportunity and ensure families have the finances they need to succeed in their college pursuits, to help us reach the President's goal for America lead the world in college graduation.

Information submitted by Sharon Oliver, Chair, SASFAA Legislative Relations Committee.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Limited Spots Remain Open - 2014 SASFAA Leadership Symposium

2014 SASFAA Leadership Symposium
2014 SASFAA Leadership Symposium
2014 SASFAA Leadership Symposium

Limited spaces available!  Register today to secure your spot!

Along with SASFAA members as presenters,  Dr. Michela Perrone, President of MMP Associates, Resources for Effective Leadership, from Washington, D.C., will be joining the symposium as well. 

Registration and detailed information here 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Condolences - T. Boyd

Dear SASFAA Members & Friends:

It is with sadness that I share with you the passing of Tarik Boyd’s grandmother, Mrs. Naomi C. Carden, who passed away yesterday morning.  Mrs. Carden was 84 years young.

Services will be held Saturday, October 25th at 2 pm at the Spanish Grove Baptist Church/5004 MacDonald Road /Scottsburg, VA. 24589.

Tarik is the current Virginia President and serves on the 2014-15 executive board.  His commitment and dedication to SASFAA is much appreciated.

Please keep Tarik and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

If you would like to send a card or note to Tarik, his address is:
Tarik Boyd/3428 Waltham Circle/Virginia Beach, VA. 23452.

May the memories of Tarik’s grandmother bring comfort, smiles, and peace.  Grandmothers give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, and most important lessons in life.   

Nathan Basford
SASFAA President