Monday, April 24, 2017

This Week in Legislation - Week of April 24, 2017

Week of April 24, 2017

·         This week, both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are in session for legislative business. While neither chamber is expected to consider student financial aid-related legislation, Congress is expected to consider a Continuing Resolution to temporarily extend the funding for federal agencies which expires on Friday; failure to do so would result in a shutdown of the federal government.
·         Today is the deadline to submit public comments on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed information collection on “Student Loan Servicing Market Monitoring.” To submit comments, visit the CFPB website.
·         Today at 1:00 p.m., the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau hosts a consumer information webinar. The free webinar will provide information about the FCC’s online Consumer Help Center (CHC), which has several consumer education features that allow consumers to search for consumer guides, access the Consumer Complaint Center, and view complaint data via the Consumer Data Center. This webinar will provide detailed information about the CHC’s features and give instructions on how to navigate each section.

·         On Tuesday starting at 3:00 p.m., the CFPB holds a meeting of its Community Bank Advisory Council to discuss the Bureau’s requests for information on alternative data and consumer access to financial records. During the event, attendees will hear from David Silberman, Acting Deputy Director, CFPB; Shiri Wolf, Counsel, Regulations, CFPB; Albert Chang, Counsel, Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, CFPB; Will Wade-Gery, Assistant Director, Card, Payment, and Deposit Markets, CFBP, and Stephen Shin, Managing Counsel, Regulations, CFPB.

·         On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing entitled, “A Legislative Proposal to Create Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs.” The hearing will address the most recent version of the Financial CHOICE Act, which would overhaul the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Witnesses include: John Allison, Former President and Chief Executive Officer, Cato Institute; Dr. Norbert Michel, Senior Research Fellow, Financial Regulations and Monetary Policy, Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity, The Heritage Foundation; Hester Peirce, Director of Financial Markets Working Group and Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center; Alex Pollock, Distinguished Senior Fellow, The R Street Institute; and Peter Wallison, Senior Fellow and Arthur F. Burn, Fellow in Financial Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute. 

·         On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing titled, “Duplication, Waste, and Fraud in Federal Programs.” Witnesses include: The Honorable Eugene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United  States, U.S. Government Accountability Office; The Honorable J. Russell George, Inspector General for Tax Administration, U.S. Department of Treasury; The Honorable Rebecca Blank, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Keith Repko, Medical Center Director, VA St. Louis Health Care System, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

·         On Wednesday at 12:00 p.m., the Cato Institute hosts a policy discussion titled, “End the ED: Time to Dissolve the U.S. Department of Education?” The event will begin with opening remarks by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). Participants in the discussion include: Vicki Alger, Research Fellow, Independent Institute, and author, Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children; Catherine Brown, Vice President, Education Policy, Center for American Progress; Neal McCluskey, Director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute; and Lauren Camera, Education Reporter, U.S. News & World Report
·         On Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., the Brookings Institution and The Hamilton Project host a policy forum titled, “Leveling the Playing Field: Policy Options to Improve Postsecondary Education and Career Outcomes.” The event will begin with introductory remarks by Robert Rubin, Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations, and former U.S. Treasury Secretary, followed by three roundtable discussions. The first roundtable will discuss policy options to better finance higher education and include: David Deming, Professor of Education and Economics, Harvard University; Sarah Turner, University Professor of Economic and Education and Sounder Family Professor, University of Virginia; Bridget Terry Long, Saris Professor of Education and Economics, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University; Charlene Dukes, President, Prince George’s Community College; Sarita Brown, President, Excelencia in Education; and Diane Schanzenbach, Director, Hamilton Project, and Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, Brookings Institution. The second roundtable will discuss risk-sharing in the student loan program and include: Adam Looney, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, Brookings Institution; Tara Watson, Associate Professor of Economics, Williams College; Michael Dakduk, ‎Executive Vice President and Director of Government Relations, Career Education Colleges and Universities; Sandra Black, Audre and Bernard Rapoport Centennial Chair in Economics and Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin; Belle Wheelan, President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; James Kvaal, Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence, University of Michigan;  and Ryan Nunn, Policy Director, The Hamilton Project, and Fellow, Economic Studies, Brookings Institution. The third roundtable will address K-12 teacher shortages and include: Thomas Dee, Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University; Louis Jacobson, President, New Horizons Economic Research, and Research Professor, George Washington Institute of Public Policy; Andy Smarick, Morgridge Fellow in Education, American Enterprise Institute; Heather Wathington, Chief Executive Officer, The Maya Angelou Schools and See Forever Foundation; and Diane Schanzenbach, Director, Hamilton Project, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, Brookings Institution. 
·         On Thursday at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Committee holds a hearing entitled, “Strengthening Accreditation to Better Protect Students and Taxpayers.” Witnesses will be announced at a later date. 
·         On Friday from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m., NCHER participates in Financial Literacy Day on Capitol Hill, hosted by the Jump$tart Coalition. The event, which is free and open to the public, provides networking opportunities with the national financial education community and offers organizations the ability to share programs which help promote financial literacy.
·         On Friday at 1:15 p.m., Federal Reserve Board of Governors Member Lael Brainard gives a speech titled, “Fintech and the Future of Finance,” at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.


This information is shared by SASFAA's Legislative Affairs' Committee and NCHER.




Advocacy in action!

Good afternoon SASFAA and Happy Monday! Please see the link below – this is definitely advocacy in action!

Verification Relief ED Guidance

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Together We Can Advocate for Relief During the IRS DRT Outage!

Good afternoon SASFAA,

It’s time to get serious Folks! Are you seeing more ISIRs selected for verification since the IRS DRT is no longer available? Are you working on that list of 399s that keeps growing? Are you doing all this with limited staff? Please use the letter below, approved by NASFAA, to start advocating for relief!
This is just a template, so please feel free to tweak and then add you and your delegate’s information and send to your local representatives.

Christen R. Barrett
Associate Director of Financial Aid
Savannah College of Art and Design®

SASFAA Legislative Relations Committee Chair, 2016-2017

Date XX, 2017

Member of Congress Name

The Honorable [Insert member of Congress here]

As an acting financial aid administrator at XX college/university, I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the impact that the outage of the IRS’s Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is having on my students’ ability to apply for and receive federal student aid. For nearly ten years, the DRT has allowed students to transfer their tax information directly into the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The IRS DRT is the cornerstone of FAFSA simplification and the outage directly affects both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 award years and adversely affects low-income students. If not addressed by October 1, this will also affect 2018-19 applicants. 
Along with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), I write to ask for your support in seeking relief for the millions of FAFSA filers who are, or will be, affected by the DRT outage. Students who are unable to use the DRT are more likely to be selected for verification—an often-arduous process that often delays the delivery of financial aid, and sometimes deters students from completing the financial aid process and attending college.

With a sincere desire to assist our students, in alignment with requests made by NASFAA and members of House and Senate education committees, I request that the Department of Education to provide the following relief for students:

1) Allow signed copies of federal tax returns from applicants to satisfy verification documentation requirements in place of DRT information and/or IRS tax return transcripts. 

2) For tax non-filers, allow for the submission of W2 forms and allow applicants to note non-filing within the institutional verification worksheet.

3) Revise the verification selection criteria to provide a more generous tolerance to ensure that the numbers of students selected for verification remains stable and manageable by institutions so that financial aid processing can continue uninterrupted.

4) Provide an increase in the tolerance level before assigning an error (399) code that indicates a conflict in a student’s information between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA.

Students and colleges in your district need the IRS to bring this tool back online as securely and quickly as possible. However, in the interim, these steps will go a long way toward helping students, particularly those with low income, access federal funding for postsecondary education.  

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Monday, April 17, 2017

This Week in Legislation - Week of April 17, 2017

Week of April 17, 2017

·         This week, both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are in recess for the commemoration of the Easter and Passover holidays. Federal lawmakers will return to Washington, DC for legislative business on Monday, April 24, 2017.
·         Today and Tuesday, all day, America’s Promise Alliance marks its 20th anniversary with “Recommit to Kids: The Summit for America’s Future,” in New York City. The event is hosted by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Alma Powell and will honor the progress that has been made in delivering the Five Promises and salute the champions who have been on the forefront of seeing that the country’s underserved children are a priority. During the summit, attendees will hear from former President Bill Clinton who will deliver the keynote address and former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and participate in a panel discussion titled, “Pathways in Learning and Working,” with Michael Lomax from the United Negro College Fund and Michael Sorrell from Paul Quinn College.

·         Today at 5:00 p.m., Federal Reserve Board of Governors Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer gives a speech titled, Monetary Policy Communication,” at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York City.

·         On Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., the Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book. Eight times a year, the Fed releases its Beige Book, a summary of current economic conditions for the 12 Federal Reserve Districts based on anecdotal information gathered through reports from Bank and Branch Directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources.


This information is shared by SASFAA's Legislative Affairs' Committee and NCHER.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April State Legislative Update

State Legislative Update                               

April 2017

Legislative news from across the SASFAA region, prepared by your 2016-2017 SASFAA Legislative Relations Committee.

Christen Neher – SASFAA Legislative Relations Chair
Ron Gambill – TASFAA Governmental Relations Chair
Mary Otto – NCASFAA Legislative Advisory Chair
Vanessa Fulton – GASFAA Legislative Affairs Chair
Erin Klarer – KASFAA Legislative Chair
Jennifer Epperson – AASFAA Legislative Relations Chair
Francisco Valines – FASFAA Legislative Relation Chair
Heidi Hunter-Goldsworthy – VASFAA Government Relations Chair
Amanda Holliday – MASFAA Legislative Chair
Joey Derrick – SCASFAA Legislative Relations Chair
Amy Berrier – SASFAA Past President
Mike O’Grady – Legislative Knowledge Expert


The Alabama Senate has postponed their vote on the state’s 2018 education budget until April 4th; after they return from their two-week spring break recess.  For more information about the budget and the delayed vote, you can visit the following link: http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2017/03/alabama_senate_considering_sta.html

Rhode Island’s current commissioner for higher education, Jim Purcell, is returning to his home state of Alabama to serve as the executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.  This news was announced Friday, March 24th.  More information about Purcell and his return to our state can be found at: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rhode-island/articles/2017-03-24/rhode-island-higher-education-commissioner-headed-to-alabama

Auburn University’s Board of Trustees announced last week that current Iowa State University President, Steven Leath, has been named the university’s 19th president.  Details about Leath and his transition to Auburn University can be found at: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/education/2017/03/24/isu-vs-auburn-why-did-leath-choose-alabama-over-iowa/99466706/


North Carolina

On March 28, 2017 members of NCASFAA, along with members from other SASFAA institutions, met with Megan McClean Covel from NASFAA who provided an update on the state of budget appropriations, reauthorization timelines and other issues.

On March 29, 2017, NCASFAA members visited with Ms. Leah Hill, Education Staffer for Congresswoman Alma Adams and Mr. Christopher Toppings, Education Staffer for Senator Richard Burr.  We shared our concerns about funding, regulations and issues related to the current DRT situation via our White Papers.  The visits and the information we provided were well received by the staffers and many of our concerns were shared by the members of Congress they represent.

The following NCASFAA members participated in the Hill visits:

Amy Berrier
Sharon Oliver
Mary Otto
Andrea Simpson 

We thank Ms. Christen Barrett for all her hard work and planning that is required to coordinate these visits, that we hope will ultimately benefit the students and families we serve.



Mississippi Legislature recently approved the appropriation bill for the Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid for both the academic and aid year beginning July 1.   With a higher demand for state aid for the students of Mississippi and with the limited state revenue, changes have been made to the state grant programs.  The state legislature has eliminated the stacking of undergraduate grants.  If a student is eligible for more than one state grant, the student will receive aid only through the grant program that awards the student the higher amount.   Additionally, students will have their eligibility of state grants re-evaluated (by hours and grades) at the end of every term.


Did you know: “Sine Die” is actually the ancient Latin phrase for “Pajama Day”? Actually it literally means “without a day,” which is what the very last day of a legislative session is called to reference that they adjourn for an indefinite period of time. Back to that in a minute…

So the House adjourned at about 11:56 p.m. last night and HB 206 made its final passage back through the House at about 11:50. I was getting a little nervous there because they have to be done at midnight, and since the advent of digital clocks (and a lawsuit or two), they quit unplugging the clocks to alter the space/time continuum. In any event, when the bill was in the Senate there was a committee substitute that modifies a couple of things: the Dual Credit Scholarship will be available to a high school student until they successfully complete of two courses; tuition plus fees cannot exceed the 1/3 KCTCS full-time in state tuition rate; clarified that students may not be charged if they fail or withdraw the course; added that universities must return 50% of the scholarship if a student does not successfully complete the course; a few odds and ends on KHEAA’s end about reporting and consulting with folks for regulations. Is it 100% what we wanted? No. Is it better than how the current Dual Credit Scholarship is operating? Yes. The money will follow the student and the high schools will only be responsible for getting the students enrolled and applied (and hopefully help them pass), not disbursing funds to postsecondary institutions. I know it’s hit and miss on each campus as to whether or not KASFAA folks are involved with the Dual Credit Scholarship, but you might be now since it’ll operate much more like all the other KHEAA programs! You’re welcome to share the good news with whomever is currently involved. J

Also added to HB 206 is the ability for high school students with earned KEES money to spend it on registered apprenticeship programs. This was pretty much the language from HB 62 but we successfully got the date delayed until the 2018-2019 school year so we can include the increase in KEES expenditures in our biennial budget request and program for it.

So we’re done! Or are we?!? There’s still a 10 day window to see if the Governor vetoes anything passed in the last two days. And there’s talk about a special session or two for tax reform and pension reform. I think tax reform may open up a few education finance things, so we’ll see!

Give me a little bit to catch up on federal stuff and I’ll be back in touch. Happy Sine Die!


On March 6, some members of the TASFAA Board of Directors attended the higher education budget hearings held by the Tennessee House of Representatives’ Finance, Ways and Means Committee.  Testimony was provided by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the University of Tennessee System, the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation supporting their budget requests for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year.

Thirty-four legislative bills have been offered impacting various higher education related programs between the House of Representatives and the State Senate.  TASFAA has begun to review the bills to determine if follow-up should be made related to the impact on postsecondary institutions and students. 

On March 29, TASFAA members Marian Dill, Ron Gambill and Dick Smelser participated in the SASFAA Hill Day visits in Washington D.C.  They met with four Congressional members or staff and attended meetings with the Senate HELP Committee staff and staff of the House Education and Workforce Committee.  A reauthorization white paper was discussed during the meetings.  The trip was very successful.


I had the pleasure of taking the SASFAA Legislative Relations committee and most of our state presidents to DC last week for the annual SASFAA Capitol Hill visits. As a group we met with Bob Moran, Deputy Education Policy Director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Afterwards we met with Jenny Prescott, Staff member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Both meetings went extremely well with both staffers being very receptive to our reauthorization recommendations. The team also managed to have 33 separate state delegate meetings within the 2 days we were in DC. What a passionate hardworking group! Our voices and your voices were heard on the hill, and they listened! They asked great questions and assured us that we should see reauthorization talks begin as soon as Aug/Sept on 2017. It was also expressed that reauthorization of the HEA was the Senate HELP committee’s “goal for the year”. Very positive!
Representing the great state of GA was Felicia Ailster of GSU, and GASFAA President, and myself, Christen Barrett of SCAD. We met with representatives from both our Senators offices. Senator Isakson’s Senior Legislative Assistant shared that Isakson supports year round Pell and he would like to see certificate students have access to Pell. It was great to hear his support of our GA technical programs. It was also expressed that Isakson looks forward to being part of the reauthorization of the HEA. Thank you to all that participated and made in impact at such an important time for the future of financial aid.

Monday, April 3, 2017

This Week in Legislation - Week of April 3, 2017

Week of April 3, 2017

·         This week, both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are in session for legislative business. However, neither chamber is expected to consider student financial aid-related legislation.

·         Today at 3:00 p.m., Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) hold a press conference to unveil the College For All Act, which would make community college tuition-free for all and address the student loan debt crisis.

·         On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade holds a hearing entitled, “Examining the Federal Reserve’s Mandate and Governance Structure.” Witnesses include: Dr. Charles Calomiris, Henry Kaufman Professor of Financial Institutions, Columbia Business School; Dr. Mickey Levy, Chief Economist for Americas and Asia, Berenberg Capital Markets, LLC; and The Honorable William Spriggs, Chief Economist, AFL-CIO and Professor, Department of Economics, Howard University.

·         On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies holds a hearing entitled, “Examining Federal Support for Job Training Programs.” Witnesses include: Douglas Besharov, Professor, University of Maryland School of Public Policy, and Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Dr. Demetra Smith Nightingale, Fellow, Urban Institute; and ZoĆ« Baird, Chief Executive Officer and President, Markle Foundation.

·         On Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice holds a hearing entitled, “First Amendment Protections on Public College and University Campuses.” Witnesses will be announced at a later date.

·         On Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., Federal Reserve Board of Governors Member Daniel Tarullo gives a speech titled, “Departing Thoughts,” at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.

·         Wednesday is the deadline for Members of Congress to submit funding requests and legislative language to the U.S. House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee for consideration as it begins to assemble the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill.

·         On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing entitled, “The 2016 Semi-Annual Reports of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.” The sole witness will be The Honorable Richard Cordray, Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

·         On Wednesday at 12:00 p.m., Collegiate Directions, Inc. holds a panel discussion on the current college advising landscape. Participants include: Jennie Niles, Deputy Mayor for Education, District of Columbia; Candace Crawford, Director of College Counseling, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School; Cindy Harcum, Principal, Baltimore City College High School; and Simon Rodberg, Principal, D.C. International School.

·         On Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) releases the minutes of its two-day meeting held March 14-15, 2017.

·         On Thursday and Friday, all-day, the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment, a research center funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and led by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, explores the center's research on the economic returns to college, for-profit colleges, financial aid, and more.

·         On Thursday at 9:15 a.m., the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit holds a hearing titled, “Examination of the Federal Financial Regulatory System and Opportunities for Reform.” Witnesses will be announced at a later date.

·         On Thursday at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing entitled, “The 2017 Tax Filing Season: Internal Revenue Service Operations and the Taxpayer Experience.” The sole witness will be The Honorable John Koskinen, Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service.

·         On Friday at 3:00 p.m., the Federal Reserve releases its “Consumer Credit – G.19” report, which includes the amount of outstanding federal and private student loans.

This information is shared by SASFAA's Legislative Affairs' Committee and NCHER.