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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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NASFAA's Off the Cuff Podcast
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Now displaying: Category: Higher Education
Feb 20, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie discuss the most recent Democratic presidential debate, and dive into former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s platform to reform higher education, which includes reinstating gainful employment regulations and free tuition at four-year universities for low-income students. At 17:12, Jill answers pressing questions from members about the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement — formerly known as the Informed Borrower Tool — and at 29 minutes in Allie delves into new quarterly data from the Department of Education on student loan default and loan forgiveness. At 33:32, Megan details recent results from an initiative to enroll more Pell-eligible students at top-tier universities, and the group wants to know: What message do you use to sign off on your emails? Warmly, and until next time, the “Off The Cuff” team. 

Feb 13, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Rachel, and Allie dive into President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal released earlier in the week, and break down its intentions for setting borrowing limits for graduate students and parents. First, however, Justin discusses some frustrations among the higher education community surrounding the Department of Education’s new website for students to acknowledge their loan debt — formerly known as the Informed Borrower Tool — and broken links on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website. At 13:35, the group delves into the budget’s cuts to student aid, plans to evaluate a restructure of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), and new borrowing caps on PLUS Loans. At 30:48, Justin discusses a new report about the growing popularity of income-driven repayment plans and their costs over the next decade, and the group wants to know: what have been your best and worst Valentine's Day experiences?

Jan 30, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Rachel, and Allie pick the final winner of NASFAA’s activity challenge before discussing a new and lengthy list of Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization recommendations from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. At 11:51, Allie dives into a push to regulate the National Student Clearinghouse, and at 17:32 Megan talks about a bill passed by the House to treat private and federal student loans similar when it comes to refinancing. At 21:10, Justin details a new case for discharging student loans in bankruptcy, followed by Allie discussing a new form consolidating the applications for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and the temporary program created to assist borrowers rejected for PSLF, as well as breaking news about experimenting with Pell Grants for prisoners. Plus, don’t forget to post on social media beginning next week in celebration of Financial Aid Awareness Month — using the hashtag #FinAidFeb — for the chance to be featured on the podcast or in Today’s News.

Jan 23, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Rachel, and Allie pick a winner of NASFAA’s activity challenge before diving into an article from Today’s News about whether institutions need a signed statement to update degree level on the FAFSA. At 13:26, NASFAA’s AskRegs Manager David Futrell joins to group to discuss guidance from the Department of Education and detail NASFAA’s efforts on the issue. At 18:31, Rachel talks about new cost predictions for the Democrats’ bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, and at 23:38 Megan delves into a lawsuit teachers are bringing against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for rescinding gainful employment regulations. At 26:27, Allie discusses presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) peculiar plan for her first 100 days in office, and the group wants to know: When did you begin to feel like you made the transition into adulthood? Plus, don’t forget to demonstrate on social media how you are getting moving for NASFAA’s activity challenge.

Jan 16, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie pick a winner from last week’s activity challenge before diving into presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) newest plan for canceling student debt, which would bypass Congress to forgive the loans of 95% of borrowers. At 5:51, Jill discusses the implications of Warren’s proposal, and at 15:52 Justin delves into a recent study about massive debt forgiveness and its potentially positive impact on the economy. At 19:53, the team unpacks different proposals for national free college mentioned during the most recent Democratic presidential debate, and at 25:07 Megan talks about forward movement in the House to pass a resolution to block the Trump administration’s rewritten borrower defense regulations. Plus, the group asks its listeners to share their latest and greatest life hacks and to demonstrate on social media how they are getting moving this week for the chance to win a prize next week for NASFAA’s activity challenge.

Jan 9, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Rachel, and Allie delve into funding for financial aid programs included in the fiscal year 2020 budget that passed late last month. At 10:36, Rachel discusses provisions that both excited and surprised the higher education community, such as one to allow students to pay down their student debt using money from their 529 savings accounts. At 14:57, Megan talks about confusion that erupted on Twitter as some questioned whether filing the FAFSA would put them at risk to be drafted into the military, and at 17:59 Allie breaks down new data coming out of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) on outstanding student loan debt and its progress reviewing applications for borrower defense and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Plus, to kick off the new year, the “Off The Cuff” team is inviting its listeners to participate in a three-week fitness challenge for the chance to win awesome podcast swag — check out the workout schedule in the show notes for more details.

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 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 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.

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