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NASFAA's Off the Cuff Podcast

Hosted by NASFAA staff, this weekly podcast offers an unscripted view of hot financial aid and higher education-related topics. Justin Draeger and co-hosts will discuss what's happening inside the beltway to give you an insider's perspective.
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Now displaying: 2019
Dec 19, 2019

In this special episode of “Off The Cuff,” NASFAA President Justin Draeger sits down with Ben Miller of the Center for American Progress (CAP) to dissect Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ new methodology for calculating partial debt relief for student borrowers. Earlier this month, DeVos announced that she would begin awarding loan forgiveness on a sliding scale by comparing the median earnings of graduates with borrower defense claims to the median earnings of graduates in comparable programs. The higher education community was quick to denounce her calculations for what appeared to be faulty math, which was also highlighted in a recent hearing she appeared in on pending borrower defense cases. In the interview, Ben digs into the complications inherent in partial debt relief and questions DeVos’ claim that it protects taxpayer integrity, and explains why a borrower may need to report negative earnings to qualify for full debt relief under the new plan. “Off The Cuff” will return to its regularly-scheduled content after the holidays!

Dec 12, 2019

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie delve into a House hearing featuring Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on the status of outstanding borrower defense cases. First, at 7:45, Allie recaps a new methodology DeVos announced this week for calculating partial relief for students seeking forgiveness under the regulations, and why higher education experts were quick to denounce it. Following a discussion about DeVos’ new plans and testimony on the Hill, at 28:16 Megan shares promising news about the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act. Finally, at 34:57 Jill dives into proposed rules for the TEACH Grant program and faith-based entities for which the Department of Education (ED) is seeking public comment. Plus, the team poses a new question to listeners: What is the one luxury that you indulge in once in a while? Tune in next week for a special episode in which Justin dives into DeVos’ new methodology for debt relief with Ben Miller of the Center for American Progress.

Dec 5, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie discuss financial aid developments coming out of Reno, Nevada, at the annual Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference. First, at 10:50, Allie talks about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ suggestion that FSA should be a stand-alone agency. At 20:55, Jill delves into new data released during the conference showing less FAFSA applications selected for verification due to new technology, and recaps a session focused on a possible federal income-share agreement experiment. And at 35:43, Megan talks about a Senate-amended version of the House-passed Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act, which would provide $255 million in permanent, annual mandatory funding to Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and simplify the financial aid application, verification, and student loan repayment process. Plus, the team poses a new question to listeners: What would be your ideal location for an FSA Conference?

Nov 21, 2019

In this special episode of “Off The Cuff,” NASFAA President Justin Draeger talks about recent changes to the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC) code of ethics with Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost for enrollment management at Oregon State University. The changes come amid an investigation from the Department of Justice into the group’s possible violations of laws related to restricting competition. In September, delegates voted to strip provisions that previously prohibited colleges and universities from recruiting students already enrolled at other universities, offering incentives to students to apply early decision, and soliciting transfer applications from previous years. In the interview, Jon tackles outstanding questions, such as what impact these new rules will have on students weighing their options for higher education and institutions attempting to fill seats and balance their budgets for the upcoming school year, among other unintended consequences. Plus, Justin and Jon discuss which types of students the new rules will have the greatest effect on, and how that plays into college access and financial aid. "Off The Cuff" will return to its regularly-scheduled content after Thanksgiving with a new episode!

Nov 14, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Megan rejoins the team as they discuss the latest news on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week. First, at 2:25, Allie, Rachel, and Megan discuss member feedback from the previous episode. At 6:37, Megan dives into the details of the DACA case and three possible outcomes for the program's future. Rachel brings everyone up to speed on the federal budget process at 15:20, as lawmakers approach another deadline on November 20. And at 19:27, Allie explains news out of the Department of Education, as the agency announced Friday it would forgive the student loan debt and restore Pell Grant eligibility for more than 1,500 former students who attended certain Dream Center institutions. Plus, the team poses a new question to listeners: What strange superstitions or rituals do you perform on a regular basis?

Nov 8, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team dives into a number of issues, including a recent community letter from more than two dozen higher education organizations calling into question the Department of Education's recent guidance on foreign gifts reporting. First, Allie gives a group a rundown of feedback from last week's episode, as members shared the most embarrassing ways they've been injured. At 5:23, Justin shares his experience on a recent trip to California for the CASFAA conference before heading to Las Vegas (7:20) for NASFAA's Board of Directors meeting. At 8:30, Rachel covers the background of the federal foreign gifts reporting requirement and why some institutions have come under fire by ED, while Justin expands on the community letter NASFAA joined 29 other organizations in submitting. At 17:28, Jill examines the final regulations on accreditation and state authorization and how the changes — including new disclosure requirements — will impact institutions. At 24:09, Justin and Jill cover more guidance from ED on revisions to standard term lengths, before the team poses a new listener question for the week: Do you think it's OK to decorate for the holidays before Thanksgiving?

Oct 31, 2019

This week on the Halloween episode of “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Allie, Rachel, and Joelle discuss their holiday plans, and Allie spooks the group by almost spoiling a major plot twist in a TV show everyone is in the midst of binge-watching. Rachel and Joelle detail a three-day hearing in which the House Committee on Education and Labor voted to move Democrats' bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act to the floor for a full vote, and the group delves into the shocking and disappointing amendments that lawmakers introduced. Allie talks about plans from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to potentially allow athletes to benefit from the use of their name or likeness, and what implications that income could have on their eligibility for financial aid. Listen on, and send us your answer to our weekly listener question: What is the most embarrassing way you’ve been injured? Skip to 10:11 to head straight to the policy discussion.

Oct 25, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Allie, and Rachel discuss a new bipartisan bill introduced this week, which built on feedback from the financial aid community to find a path forward for FAFSA simplification. The team discusses and ins and outs of the bill and its chances for moving through Congress while a full Higher Education Act reauthorization appears unlikely. Plus, Federal Student Aid was in the spotlight late this week as A. Wayne Johnson, formerly the chief operating officer at FSA and currently the Department of Education’s chief strategy and transformation officer, abruptly resigned from his position and announced a run for Senate — on the platform of forgiving a significant amount of student loan debt. Calling the student loan system "fundamentally broken," Johnson's departure stands in contrast to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's recent appearance on Fox News, in which she said Democratic presidential candidates proposals for debt forgiveness were "crazy." Listen on for more, and send us your answer to our weekly listener question: What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on with no preparation?

Oct 17, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Allie, Jill, and Rachel cover the ins and outs of the newly-released College Affordability Act (CAA), the House Democrats' bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Jill walks the team through all the major proposed changes to Title IV aid programs, while Justin and Rachel discuss the bill's potential to move through Congress, and Allie gives an overview of reactions to the proposals. The team also discusses reported plans for Federal Student Aid to reorganize and expand its staff, as well as commentary from a well-known financial guru who recently encouraged students to pick a college they can afford — rather than shooting for their "dream school." Plus, the team wants to know: What would you do differently if no one was judging you?

Oct 10, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Erin, and Allie dive into former Vice President Joe Biden's higher education platform, which proposes among other things doubling the maximum Pell Grant award, overhauling income-driven repayment, and restructuring the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Justin discusses news that a federal judge weighed publicly the idea of taking action against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos through sanctions or holding her in contempt for violating a previous court order to halt debt collection on former Corinthian Colleges students. Allie gives an overview of the latest quarterly data from Federal Student Aid, which showed the processing of borrower defense claims remained at a standstill as of June, and Erin examines the findings from an American Enterprise Institute report that claims loan servicers may not be entirely at fault when it comes to complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Plus, the team wants to know: Do you have favorite kitchen items (like a "bacon plate" or "potato drawer") that you use only for specific purposes? Skip to 7:10 to get straight to member feedback and the policy discussion.

Oct 3, 2019

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Erin, Rachel, and Joelle jump into the text of a scaled-back Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill and how it aligns with NASFAA’s priorities. Justin discusses recent changes to the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC) code of conduct that would change the way institutions compete for students, and Joelle catches the group up on the latest developments in a case climbing through the courts involving Harvard’s affirmative action policy. Erin talks about a slew of student debt relief scams plaguing borrowers, and the team delves into a story about a woman who got married at 19 to change her dependency status on the FAFSA. Plus, the group poses a new listener question: If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be? Skip to 8:40 to get straight to the policy discussion.

Sep 27, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Joelle, and Erin celebrate the podcast’s  three year anniversary before diving into impeachment and what that means for student aid. Erin catches the group up on the recently released national cohort default rate — and why it is not the best measure of institutional success — and Joelle details a court filing revealing that the Department of Education erroneously collected on former Corinthian students’ loans. Justin delves into an opinion article about reforming remedial education, and questions the group about whether success in life is due more to one’s luck or skill. Plus, the team poses a new question for our listeners: what was your favorite birthday?

Sep 19, 2019

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Rachel, Jill, Erin, and Joelle discuss the possibility of a scaled back Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill, and legislation to improve institutions' award offer forms. Rachel catches the group up on the Senate’s fiscal year 2020 bill to fund education programs and how it differs from the House’s proposal, and Justin and Jill delve into a hearing on implementation issues within the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Joelle also discusses breaking news involving unsealed documents from a court case against a federal loan servicer, and the team poses a new listener question (and shares their own experiences): What’s the best and/or worst career advice you’ve ever received?

Sep 12, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Allie, Jill, and Rachel catch up on the latest news with the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, which includes an upcoming Lifetime movie event. Jill breaks down the details of the Department of Education's final draft of the College Financing Plan and how it differs from the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, while Rachel debriefs us on a congressional hearing focused on student loan servicing. Allie dives into the latest news with outcomes for the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and Justin and Rachel break down progress with the federal budget. Plus, the team shares their best productivity hacks, and poses a new question to listeners: What is the best cupcake flavor?

Sep 9, 2019

In a special episode of "Off The Cuff," NASFAA President Justin Draeger interviews Ken Bradford of the Louisiana Department of Education. The state of Louisiana has in recent years garnered additional attention in the K-12 and higher education communities for requiring high school seniors to complete the FAFSA in order to graduate, as part of a larger financial aid planning requirement. Bradford, the assistant superintendent in the Office of Student Opportunities, shares in the interview how the state Department of Education brought together several stakeholders to develop a plan and provide the necessary support for students and families before implementing the requirement. Listen on to hear more of Ken's insights on outcomes from the first two years with the requirement in place, solutions for unique student circumstances, and advice for other states considering making a similar move. "Off The Cuff" will return to its regularly-scheduled content this Friday with a new episode!

Sep 3, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin is joined by some familiar NASFAA guests, such as Joelle and Jill, and some new voices from NASFAA, like Director of Communications Erin Powers and Assistant Director of Federal Relations Rachel Gentry, as the podcast returns from a summer hiatus with plenty of updates from August. The group looks back at news that broke over the summer involving legal guardianship, and the controversy surrounding the newest employee at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Rachel catches the group up on the president’s two-year budget deal, and discusses what’s coming down the road as lawmakers in the House and Senate work to pass their spending bills and reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Plus, keep an eye out for a special edition of “Off The Cuff” in which Justin discusses Louisiana’s efforts to require that all high schoolers complete the FAFSA to graduate.

Jul 25, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," in an extended episode to wrap up the season, Justin, Megan, Stephen, Allie, and NASFAA Policy Analyst Jill Desjean discuss the outstanding questions with the Department of Education's recent announcement that the 2016 final rules on state authorization took effect—by court order—on May 26, 2019, and that California specifically does not meet the regulatory requirements in the final rules for students enrolled in distance education or correspondence programs. Skip ahead to 27:50 to jump right into the discussion. The team this week also examined the details of Congress' recent budget deal and its implications for student aid, and an article from The New York Times that puts into question ED's involvement in the collapse of the Dream Center-held for-profit institutions. This was also the last episode for Stephen, and the last (for a few months) for Megan—share your comments, questions, and well wishes using our feedback form!

Jul 18, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Stephen, and Allie dive into breaking news this week as more than five dozen colleges and universities were hit by a cyberattack through a vulnerability in enrollment software. Megan gives an update on the latest with foreign gift reporting requirements as institutions and the Department of Education (ED) disagree over what exactly is required. Stephen runs through the details of a new lawsuit in which one of the nation's teachers unions sued ED, claiming the agency arbitrarily rejected its members’ applications for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Plus, the team examines several new pieces of legislation introduced this week addressing issues with income-share agreements and institutional risk-sharing. Skip to 8:21 to get right to the policy discussion.

Jul 12, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Stephen, and Allie reconnect after a live episode in Orlando last month, and recap the closing session from the 2019 National Conference, which focused on questions that will shape the future of student aid. Justin walks us through the recent repeal of the gainful employment regulations and what it means for institutions, while Megan gives an update on news stemming from institutions improperly reporting gifts and contracts from foreign sources. The team discusses news out of Texas, which will become the second state to mandate that students fill out the FAFSA in order to graduate from high school, and how that will impact students and families. Plus, find out which Disney character made the strongest impression in Orlando.

Jun 27, 2019

In this episode of "Off The Cuff," Justin, Allie, Stephen, and Megan come to you live from the 2019 NASFAA National Conference in Orlando! Holding a live podcast recording at the annual conference has become a tradition and a way for NASFAA staff to catch up with members, and engage in a fun and relaxed conversation after a day full of informative sessions on financial aid regulations and issues. In this year's live podcast, the team decided to settle a few debates that frequently appear in the "informal" portion of the podcast—commuting etiquette, office attire in the summer months, and cats versus dogs. The team also had a few higher education-related games planned, and a heartfelt send-off for Stephen as he heads to graduate school in Boston. Join us next year for a live recording in Las Vegas!

Jun 13, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie dig into NASFAA's recent research consumer testing the College Financing Plan, and give a sneak peek of what to expect for our live recording in Orlando. Plus, Allie gives an overview of two student loan-focused hearings that happened in the House this week, while Megan shares some insights from recent research showing the steady returning value of a college degree. The team also shares some highlights from NASFAA's 2020 Presidential Cheat Sheet and what's coming down the pike with the presidential election. Plus, Justin ponders what exactly would make sweatpants cost $1,000.

May 30, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie are joined by Maylene Rodriguez Scott, the 2019 Dallas Martin Endowment (DME) policy intern. The group talks about a recent announcement from the Department of Education (ED) on gainful employment previously-delayed disclosure requirements that will be going into effect on July 1, 2019. Megan updates the group on acceptable FAFSA verification documentation for the 2020-21 award year, which includes paper tax returns and statements of non-filing. Allie dives into news from Virginia Tech, as the institution said it would be offering some incoming freshmen the option to delay the start of their enrollment for various financial incentives, such as a renewable scholarship or a tuition reimbursement grant for community college classes. Megan also gives an update on a legislative fix for the "kiddie tax" issue, which is expected to come once Congress is back in session. Plus, hear about the group's experiences in college dorms and why Justin missed his college orientation. Skip to 7:47 to get straight to the policy discussion.

May 23, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie cover a lot of ground catching up on the latest news in DC. First, Megan catches us up on a fix lawmakers are voting on to fix the "kiddie tax" issue that surfaced last week, as a provision in the Republicans' tax overhaul that raised the tax rate on unearned income, and inadvertently impacted low-income families. Justin discusses a recent proposal from President Donald Trump that would funnel money from the Pell Grant program reserve fund to NASA. The team also discusses ED's plans for a Federal Work-Study experimental site that would expand eligible jobs for students, and a House oversight subcommittee hearing on for-profit colleges. Plus, the team tackles billionaire Robert Smith's pledge to pay off the Morehouse College Class of 2019's student loan debt. Skip to 7:25 to get straight to the policy discussion!

May 9, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie discuss some questions that came up following the news that ED had hired a private company to assess the federal student loan portfolio. Megan catches us up on new projections from the Congressional Budget Office that show the federal student loan program running a deficit, and Allie gives an overview of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's recent appearance at the Education Writers Association's annual conference. The team also discusses Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) 23-page letter to the new chief of Federal Student Aid, and a House subcommittee hearing on student outcomes. Plus, hear Justin's hot take on the name choice for the newest Royal Baby. Skip to 8:50 to get straight to the policy discussion.

May 2, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Stephen, and Allie dive into the House fiscal year 2020 funding proposal and the historic increases for student aid included in the bill, which next moves to the full appropriations committee. Justin and Megan analyze a recent move from FSA to hire a private firm to evaluate the student loan portfolio. Allie summarizes a recent report from two DC-based think tanks that discusses how to improve oversight and transparency at FSA—taking into account its status as a performance-based organization—and the group compares the report to NASFAA's own research on the topic. Plus, a new public poll shows most voters, by a slim margin, are opposed to the idea of free college, but support loan forgiveness.

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