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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: Page 2
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.

Apr 26, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Stephen, and Allie analyze the discussion from a recent policy event in Washington during which a senior Department of Education official weighed in on school closures and how the triad can work to improve the process. The group discusses new developments in the 2020 presidential election, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) student debt and free college proposal that had the higher education community buzzing. Megan also fills us in on new research that challenges the strength of the Bennett Hypothesis with regard to Grad PLUS loans. Plus, tune in to hear which sudden DC restaurant closure has some in the NASFAA office panicking. Skip to 7:45 to get straight to the policy discussion.

Apr 18, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Megan, Stephen, and Allie dig into the Department of Education's recent and unexpected guidance on financial aid award notifications. The group also discusses two new reports out this week focusing on the two PLUS Loan programs for graduate/professional students and parents. While one argues there's a way to help current struggling borrowers and tighten up standards for future borrowers, the other claims proposals to cap or eliminate the program aren't necessary. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, a group of Democratic senators introduced a bill last week to overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, while others wrote to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking for tweaks to the Temporary Expanded PSLF program. Plus, be sure to tune into the beginning of the episode to hear which political celebrity Megan ran into recently in her travels across the country.

Apr 11, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Allie, Megan, and Stephen share the highlights from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's latest appearance on Capitol Hill with the House Committee on Education and Labor, where lawmakers questioned her on a plethora of topics related to higher education policy. Stephen updates the group on issues with a provision from the budget package that was intended to grant loan deferment to borrowers undergoing cancer treatment, and how implementation has stalled due to a lack of guidance. Stephen also dives into the latest with current budget negotiations, sharing that the spending bill focused on education may be first up for consideration. Plus, Megan walks us through a piece of legislation that was reintroduced recently that would require a standard financial aid award letter.

Apr 4, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Allie, Stephen, and Megan Walter analyze the surprising turn of events that led to the negotiated rulemaking committee on accreditation and innovation reaching consensus this week. The committee decided on a slew of regulatory changes, including significant changes to the TEACH Grant program and how the Department of Education will handle requests for reconsideration of grants erroneously converted into loans. Megan catches the team up on a recent hearing in a House education subcommittee on higher education accountability, during which lawmakers made commentary on the ongoing neg reg process. Plus, the group gives a preview of more hearings to come next week, including an accountability hearing in the Senate education committee, and an appearance from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the House education committee.

Mar 28, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie recap Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's recent appearances before both the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees focused on education funding. Allie gives a report on the latest news from negotiated rulemaking, where committee members are attempting to reach consensus on a number of issues, including accreditation, distance education, faith-based entities, and the TEACH Grant program. Plus, Megan and Justin share updates from the NASFAA Board of Directors' recent trip to Washington, D.C., during which they discussed with Department of Education officials the increase in reported combat pay on the FAFSA that many schools have observed for the 2019-20 award year and forthcoming changes to the FSA ID. Skip to 9:18 to get straight to the policy discussion.

Mar 14, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin and Allie dig into the topic on everyone's minds this week—the college admissions bribery and fraud scandal and what it means for higher education as a whole. They also discuss the three higher education-focused congressional hearings that took place this week on FAFSA simplification, for-profit college oversight, and college affordability, and the Higher Education Committee of 50's final recommendations, which the group unveiled this week and presented to staffers on Capitol Hill. Plus, listen to the end to find out what political hype video might have inspired Justin to make one for "Off The Cuff."

Mar 7, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Allie, and Joelle celebrate the 100th episode by sharing some of their favorite podcast memories from the last few years. The team discusses changes within Federal Student Aid, with the announcement of new Chief Operating Officer Mark Brown, and Joelle gives a recap of a recent hearing on student loan servicing oversight. Lawmakers will be busy next week with three hearings focused on higher education, including for-profit oversight, FAFSA simplification and verification, and college affordability. Thank you to our listeners for supporting us through 100 episodes—feel free to share your favorite "Off The Cuff" memory using the feedback form.

Feb 28, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie recap NASFAA's recent Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo, which concluded with hundreds of financial aid professionals visiting their representatives on Capitol Hill this week. Skip to 7:35 to get right to the policy discussion. Allie details a recent court decision that could bring relief to a group of borrowers who sued the Department of Education over the agency's handling of their Public Service Loan Forgiveness applications, and Megan outlines what we know so far about Sen. Patty Murray's (D-WA) priorities for a Higher Education Act reauthorization. Plus, hear Justin give us his best rendition of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's Oscars performance.

Feb 21, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Stephen, Megan, and Joelle discuss the growing list of politicians running for the democratic nomination for president, and how they’ve responded to the idea of free college. Megan talks about a bill—dubbed the FAFSA Fairness Act—to help students who are unable to provide parental information on their applications, and details a significant change made to the language since it was introduced in the last session of Congress. The group also delves into a series of recommendations that NASFAA sent to a group of democratic senators to help address racial disparities in higher education, and Justin recaps a conversation he had with our SASFAA colleagues regarding issues with Parent PLUS Loans. Skip ahead three minutes to get right to the policy discussion. We hope to see you at our Leadership and Legislative Conference & Expo next week!

Feb 14, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Stephen, Megan, and Joelle discuss a new endorsement of FAFSA simplification and Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization from Ivanka Trump—and what that might mean for White House priorities. The group also unpacks a new report that found the Office of Federal Student Aid failed to hold federal loan servicers accountable for being out-of-compliance with federal standards during both the current and prior presidential administrations. Plus, Stephen and Joelle recap the issues brought up during negotiated rulemaking subcommittee meetings earlier this week on TEACH Grants and distance education, and Megan details the continuation of an experimental program to allow prisoners access to Pell Grants. Skip to 7:20 to get right to the policy discussion.

Feb 7, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Allie, and Megan examine Sen. Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) recently-announced policy priorities to include in a reauthorization bill for the Higher Education Act (HEA). Alexander earlier in the week laid out a vision for what he said he hopes to be a bipartisan effort to deliver a bill to President Donald Trump by Christmas. But, the group discusses, with several lawmakers already making plans for a 2020 presidential bid, it's unclear if Congress will make progress toward this goal. With FAFSA simplification high on the list of priorities, Megan also outlines the findings from a recent study showing the push to enroll more low-income students could create unintended negative consequences. Plus, the group discusses Tuesday's State of the Union address, and what the speech says—or doesn't say—about higher education policy.

Jan 31, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Allie, Stephen, and Megan dig into the latest developments in Congress with the government shutdown over for the time being. As House Democrats gear up for oversight hearings, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) renews his push for a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Meanwhile, presidential candidates for the 2020 election are weighing in on higher education issues as they launch their campaigns. This week also news surfaced about another branch of the government—Homeland Security—dipping its toes into higher education issues when it was revealed the agency ran a fake university set up to entrap foreign students who wanted to stay in the country without proper authorization. Plus, Allie outlines the major findings from a new report on college and university endowments that found about half of endowment spending goes toward financial aid.

Jan 31, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Allie, Stephen, and Megan dig into the latest developments in Congress with the government shutdown over for the time being. As House Democrats gear up for oversight hearings, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) renews his push for a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Meanwhile, presidential candidates for the 2020 election are weighing in on higher education issues as they launch their campaigns. This week also news surfaced about another branch of the government—Homeland Security—dipping its toes into higher education issues when it was revealed the agency ran a fake university set up to entrap foreign students who wanted to stay in the country without proper authorization. Plus, Allie outlines the major findings from a new report on college and university endowments that found about half of endowment spending goes toward financial aid.

Jan 24, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Allie, Stephen, and Megan bring you the latest on the government shutdown and the ripple effects that have now reached President Trump's State of the Union address—as well as his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal. Allie and Stephen give a full recap of the recently-concluded negotiated rulemaking subcommittee session on the TEACH Grant program, and Megan dives into the Pell Grant schedules that were published this week. Plus, the team unpacks a report on increased state support for public higher education, and checks in on their New Year's resolutions.

Jan 17, 2019

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Allie, and Megan discuss the latest news coming out of the Department of Education's negotiated rulemaking sessions on accreditation, distance education, faith-based entities, and the TEACH Grant program. Justin and Megan dig into the ongoing government shutdown and its impact throughout the country, and examine the newly-released beta "College Financing Plan" ED issued to replace the Shopping Sheet for 2019-20. Justin also gives an update on ED's solicitation for a student loan servicing platform, and Allie shares new findings from a report on what would happen if Congress lifted the ban on incarcerated individuals' access to Pell Grants. Plus, Megan shares a new stance the Federal Reserve has taken with regard to student loan debt—is it negatively impacting the housing market?

Jan 10, 2019

In this episode of "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Stephen, and Allie recap the latest with the government shutdown, and how the prolonged standstill has had an impact on financial aid, despite the Department of Education being fully funded. Megan and Stephen examine the new Congress that took control this month with Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, and what new faces will appear on the Senate education committee. Allie details the upcoming negotiated rulemaking sessions on a number of higher education policy areas, and what's different about this round of rulemaking compared with past years. Plus, the team shares their New Year's resolutions—feel free to share yours by submitting a feedback form. Skip to 8:17 to get straight to the policy discussion.

Dec 13, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Megan, Stephen, and Allie talk about the potential of an upcoming vote on the Senate floor on the Faster Access to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Act, and discuss how members can reach out to their representatives in the House to push the bill forward there as well. Allie details a report released from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding banks charging students high fees for college-sponsored debit cards, and the team discusses the release of a new tool for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) applicants. The team also talks about the Department of Education’s (ED) plan to revisit cases of students’ TEACH Grants being converted into loans and its official announcement that it will delay the recall of Perkins Loans. Plus, the group continues the conversation on the use of smartphones in college and delves into comments from members. Barring any breaking news, this is the last episode of 2018—we wish you a happy holiday and be sure to check back in 2019!

Dec 6, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team talks about the late President George H.W. Bush and what legacy he left behind not just for higher education, but also for government leadership. You can skip to 14:40 to jump straight into higher education news. Stephen catches the group up on the latest with the fiscal year 2019 spending bill, while Megan shares more information about a FAFSA simplification bill that might see action in Congress soon. Allie outlines a new student borrower advocacy group formed by former officials from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and what that might mean for states looking to increase oversight of servicers. Plus, Justin asks the group to weigh in on a debate that took place this week: should a smartphone be considered a necessary piece of technology covered by financial aid?

Nov 29, 2018

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Stephen, and Joelle recap the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference in Atlanta, from big news regarding changes to FAFSA verification to the delay of the recall of Perkins Loans funds. The group also discusses reaction to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ opening speech, and Justin highlights a meeting with DeVos and other Department of Education (ED) officials. The team delves into new data presented at the conference on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and discuss the presentation of a new disclosure template for the gainful employment (GE) regulations. In addition to conference news, Joelle catches the group up on an update to changes to student veterans’ housing benefits and a lawsuit related to states’ ability to regulate federal loan servicers.

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