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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: 2018
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.

Nov 15, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin and Allie talk more about insights from the midterm elections, including what divisions exist among American voters and what Republicans might need to do to expand their base. Allie gives an update on new numbers showing increased enrollment at some institutions due to year-round Pell, and details a new report showing the Department of Education becoming one of the most targeted federal agencies for FOIA lawsuits. Plus, Justin shares new data on how verification can impact prospective college students, and what NASFAA member institutions have said about verification on their own campuses.

Nov 8, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Megan, Stephen, and Allie rehash the details of Tuesday's midterm elections, and how the outcome could impact higher education policy. With Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, some think there may be potential for bipartisan cooperation and progress toward reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, the group discusses. Aside from pushing forward on policy, Democrats may also use the opportunity to increase oversight of the Department of Education by calling Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to testify more frequently. Plus, Stephen goes into what role education broadly played in the elections, and how some politicians are already looking forward to 2020.

Nov 1, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie discuss the upcoming midterm elections and what the outcome could mean for higher education policy should Democrats take control of the House. Meanwhile, Justin and Megan recount recent fall travels to state and regional associations and what topics have members talking. The group also dissects a recent federal employee survey showing a low rate of satisfaction among ED employees, and news that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to restructure the department, including an office that handles privacy issues. Plus, the team gives their predictions for what will happen next Tuesday, and what interesting campaign strategies they've seen in the last few weeks.

Oct 18, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin and Allie recap the latest news from the last few weeks, including a turn of events in legal challenges to the Obama-era borrower defense regulations, which officially went into effect this week. Justin goes over the details of the Department of Education's public solicitation for a third party to develop a pilot program to help students receive their Title IV credit balances via a mobile app, while Allie gives the highlights of the College Board's most recent trends reports. Justin discusses issues schools have brought forward related to verification, and Allie explains a group of lawmakers' calls for more information on PSLF. Plus, listen to the end to hear what Justin and Allie's presidential campaign slogans would be—and share yours with us!

Oct 4, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team digs into why the Department of Education is delaying publishing two highly anticipated regulations—borrower defense and gainful employment—and what that means for students and institutions moving forward. Also percolating at the department, Allie gives an update on intermittent issues with the FAFSA and IRS DRT. Stephen explains the latest news with Public Service Loan Forgiveness, as a group of teachers this week filed a class action lawsuit against a large student loan servicer, and Allie outlines how many student veterans are experiencing hardship due to a backlog in processing GI Bill benefit claims at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Plus, after Megan spots a local celebrity on the metro, she wonders: what would you do if you ran into someone famous?

Sep 27, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Stephen, and Allie report back with the latest developments on the federal budget—which may come in on time for the first time in more than two decades. Justin explains how a policy change taking effect at the Department of Education might be forcing out some longer-serving staff, while Allie details the newest three-year cohort default rates released this week. The team also discusses NASFAA's recent strategy retreat, and which staff members are now experts at improv.

Sep 21, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Megan and Allie get into the details of the final education spending bill passed by the Senate. It's the first time in several years, Megan explains, that things could return to "regular order," with the budget getting wrapped up before October 1—a move that could have implications for federal student aid programs. Megan also details comments NASFAA submitted to the IRS regarding a draft proposal for a new tax form, and Allie discusses the findings from TICAS's 13th annual report on student loan debt. The two also examine new data from Federal Student Aid updating the status of thousands of pending borrower defense claims, as well as applications for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Plus, Megan wonders whether a recent event in Virginia could spark the use of fanny packs as a defense mechanism.

Sep 14, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team returns from a summer hiatus with plenty of updates from a busy August. While the Senate pushed forward in its work toward passing a budget, the House passed a bipartisan bill on annual counseling, which would implement new requirements designed to ensure that students make informed decisions when accepting federal loans and Pell Grants. Plus, the Department of Education released proposed regulations for both borrower defense and gainful employment. Justin and Megan explain NASFAA's submitted comments for both proposed rules, and give an update on NASFAA's recent work on improving award notifications. Plus, Allie relays what it’s like to have a part of your life play out like a thriller.

Jul 19, 2018

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, and Joelle recap what’s been floating around on the Hill, such as a letter demanding the IRS clarify that it will not tax the forgiven debt of former Corinthian Colleges students, and a bill mandating that institutions certify private student loans. As the start of the school year nears, the group analyzes enrollment declines in higher education, and Justin discusses what often happens to students flagged for FAFSA verification over the summer. Plus, Joelle explains why being financially savvy has nothing to do with understanding the student loan process, and the team shares common life advice they choose to ignore. “Off The Cuff” will be on hiatus for the rest of the summer and will return in September. In the meantime, you can find your favorite episodes here.

Jul 12, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Stephen, and Allie catch us up on the latest news in federal spending, as the House Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill for education programs for fiscal year 2019. The bill, which included a few notable higher education-related amendments, now moves to the floor for a vote by the full House, and a similar bill in the Senate awaits a floor vote. The team also discusses how President Donald Trump's new Supreme Court nominee could have an impact on higher education and affirmative action. Plus, rumors swirled on Capitol Hill about a potential celebrity visit, and student debt moves into prime time in a new reality TV show.

Jun 28, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Stephen, and Allie come to you in a live recording from NASFAA's 2018 National Conference in Austin. For the second year in a row, the "Off The Cuff" team gathered at the National Conference to give attendees a "behind the scenes" look at what goes into creating the podcast each week. Tune in for an episode full of games, trivia (thanks to Trellis Company), and a special announcement of a brand new podcast launching this fall.

Jun 20, 2018

This week, in an extended episode of "Off The Cuff," Justin and Megan are joined by New America's Rachel Fishman and uAspire's Laura Keane to discuss their recent research on challenges with the formatting of financial aid award letters. Rachel and Laura give a high-level description of their research, what they found, and recommendations for how institutions can make award letters more digestible for students and parents. Meanwhile, Justin and Megan share some insights from NASFAA's own research on consumer information and award letters, and how stakeholders from all sides — including students, institutions, software providers, and more — must work together to establish best practices. Next week's episode will be a live recording from NASFAA's 2018 National Conference — we hope to see you all in Austin!

Jun 14, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," the full team reunites to share some exciting details of what to expect at the upcoming 2018 NASFAA National Conference in Austin. Justin, Megan, and Stephen explain the latest developments on whether the House Republicans' PROSPER Act will come to the floor for a vote by the full chamber. Stephen gives an update on the status of lawmakers' progress on fiscal year 2019 spending, and Allie shares how Google is trying to make a mark in higher education. Plus, hear why Megan is a little nervous to ride the metro lately, and the furry creature that captured America's — and NASFAA's — heart this week.

Jun 7, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Megan and Allie discuss the declining chances that Congress will reauthorize the Higher Education Act this year, after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) made comments last week suggesting Democrats are unwilling to cooperate. Meanwhile, Allie gives a recap of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's recent defense of the Department of Education's fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, and Megan dives into whether a recent court ruling could be delaying the release of proposed rules for borrower defense. Plus, Megan and Allie share which special guest will be joining the podcast in two weeks.

May 24, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin and Megan give an update on efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, as House Republicans met behind closed doors Wednesday night to discuss the PROSPER Act. Allie provides a summary of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's recent appearance before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Megan dives into the details of how some borrowers might get a second chance to receive loan discharges through Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Plus, hear from NASFAA's Dallas Martin Endowment Policy Intern, McCall Hopkin, about what she'll be working on this summer. To get straight into policy discussion, skip ahead to 5:30 in the podcast.

May 17, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team discusses information leaking in Washington and how that can tie in to news on higher education. Justin shares the newly-released spring floor schedule for the House of Representatives. The PROSPER Act is nowhere to be found on it, but Megan explains how some are still lobbying hard for a floor vote. Allie explains the latest changes in ED's oversight of fraud in higher education, and a new report that highlights negative consequences of the Parent PLUS Loan program. Plus, Megan and Justin analyze the discussion from NASFAA's recent policy forum on accountability in higher education and its impact on access.

May 10, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie dive into the details of a slew of new negotiated rulemaking sessions proposed this week by the Department of Education. Among the regulations up for discussion are those related to state authorization, accreditation, access to high quality and innovative programs, and eligibility of faith-based entities and activities. The team also gives an update on the timeframe for when proposed rules on borrower defense and gainful employment may be released, and what the interest rates will be for new federal student loans. Allie and Megan talk about recent and significant changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and why some Republicans are pushing for DACA to become "queen of the Hill."

Apr 26, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team, along with some special guests courtesy of 'bring your child to work day,' discusses a federal district judge's order to continue processing DACA applications. Justin, Megan, and Stephen delve into the Trump administration's latest attempt to delay an Obama-era consumer protection regulation, and Stephen updates the team on the potential for a budget rescission. The team also talks about the Department of Defense's (DoD) opposition to the House Republicans' bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), and the discovery that a widely-quoted student loan expert was a fictional character.

Apr 19, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Stephen and Allie talk in more detail about how a possible budget rescission — even if it's not passed by Congress — could impact student aid funding, and how members can encourage lawmakers to continue to support the "Fight for Financial Aid" in fiscal year 2019. With midterm elections approaching, the two discuss a new report from the Center for American Progress on how shifting demographics nationwide could impact elections. Plus, Allie gives an update on a lawsuit seeking to halt the Department of Education's process to award partial relief to some borrower defense claimants, and Stephen shares new details on the characteristics of Grad PLUS Loan borrowers from a new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Apr 12, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team discusses whether House Speaker Paul Ryan's resignation means the end of his political career and what his final moves may be, and analyzes Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent testimony before Congress. Justin, Stephen, and Allie delve into what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected regarding student loans over the next decade, and Allie breaks down a new report on raising the income threshold for calculating the automatic zero EFC. The team also talks about the much anticipated release of the Pell Grant schedules and a letter that Democratic senators sent to the Department of Education (ED) related to implementing changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Plus, the team discusses some of the swag to be given out at the NASFAA National Conference.

Apr 5, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," Allie and Megan answer some lingering questions about a data-sharing provision in the fiscal year 2018 budget, and dig into what might be next on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's regulatory chopping block. Allie and Megan discuss the latest news in ACICS's struggle to maintain federal recognition, and what it could mean for students. Megan also dives into the details of why some institutions are concerned by a bill intended to ease the process of applying for financial aid for students who may not have contact with their parents. Plus, Allie shares some exciting news about a special Easter surprise from this past weekend.

Mar 29, 2018

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team discusses NASFAA's letter to Congress requesting increased funding for federal student aid programs in fiscal year 2019, and question whether the budget will be passed before the September deadline. Megan, Allie, and Stephen talked about concerns raised this week regarding expanding the role of a top Department of Education (ED) official. Allie walks the team through a recent ED report detailing cases in which students had their TEACH Grants converted into loans, as well a State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) report highlighting states' increased reliance on tuition funds. Plus, the team considers whether the conference room can double as a dance club.

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