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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
Oct 22, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff” Justin, Megan, Allie, and Karen kick things off by toasting to Financial Aid Day and NASFAA Member Appreciation Day before Megan provides an update on the latest in the incremental narrowing of negotiations into additional coronavirus relief legislation, and highlights a new report from the Department of Education (ED) on foreign gift reporting. Justin then recaps a recent opinion from a federal judge blasting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over the department’s processing of borrower defense claims. Karen provides an update on ED’s Coronavirus Indicator and what administrators should be on the lookout for in terms of reporting. The group also talks about some recent life hacks they’ve tackled and want to know if you’ve recently acquired any. Send us recommendations on new ways to improve our daily schedules!

Oct 15, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Allie, and Karen talk about what Halloween in their neighborhoods will look like this year due to changes caused by COVID-19 before Megan and Justin give an update on the latest regarding congressional negotiations over additional coronavirus aid to institutions. Allie then talks about a recent study that found Black student loan borrowers are more likely to never be able to pay off their student debt compared to their peers, and Karen covers a recent Department of Education webinar detailing new reporting requirements for institutions who received CARES Act funds. The group also talks proper email etiquette — so send in your do’s and don’ts of email greetings and signoffs.

Oct 8, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin is joined by special guest Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is set to retire at the end of the year after serving three terms in the Senate. Alexander talks about his final push to get a FAFSA simplification bill through Congress, as well as his plans for retirement. Justin, Megan, and Allie then welcome Karen McCarthy from NASFAA’s policy team to discuss highlights from the vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Vice President Mike Pence and an overview of NASFAA’s recent professional judgment survey. Plus, the group reminisces about sharing microphones in the office for podcast recordings in pre-pandemic times.

Sep 24, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Allie, Megan, and Jill delve into what implications the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the upcoming SCOTUS confirmation process could have on higher education. Allie details a number of recent court cases and spells out how the ideological dynamics of the court could shift on a number of high profile decisions for the court’s upcoming session. Megan provides an update on Congress’ legislative agenda, highlighting the state of ongoing negotiations into additional COVID-19 relief efforts and what comes next for a continuing resolution that could prevent a government shutdown at the end of this month. Finally, Jill details the latest announcement from the Department of Education concerning Phase II of the Common Origination and Disbursement System implementation of the coronavirus indicator for return of Title IV funds waivers. Plus, it's the podcast's fourth birthday this weekend!

Sep 18, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie return after a brief summer hiatus as they cover the Senate hearing on FAFSA simplification, discussing past efforts and the chances of any FAFSA-related legislation being included in any upcoming bills. Allie details the latest bipartisan proposal aimed at providing additional COVID-19 relief before the upcoming November election and Megan provides an update on a continuing resolution making its way through Congress before funding expires at the end of September. Finally, Jill details a recent report from the Department of Education’s internal watchdog regarding implementation and oversight of the CARES Act. Plus, the group catches up on life events that took place over the past few weeks. 

Aug 27, 2020

In a special episode of "Off The Cuff" featuring authors from NASFAA's recent 10-paper series on simplifying and improving the FAFSA, Justin speaks with Ben Miller of the Center for American Progress, Jen Mishory of The Century Foundation, and Robert Kelchen of Seton Hall University. With the FAFSA's 30th "birthday" approaching in 2022, the group discusses how the application can be adjusted to fulfill its original purpose — streamlining the application for federal aid — how it would fit in a world with free college, and how it can better reflect the true need of applicants by allowing for a negative expected family contribution. Be sure to read all of the 10 papers in the series, and send us your questions, comments, and feedback for when we return with regularly scheduled episodes in September!

Aug 20, 2020

On a special episode of “Off The Cuff,” Justin is joined by 2020-21 NASFAA National Chair Brenda Hicks, who serves as the director of financial aid at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Justin and Brenda discuss her background in admissions and what led her to financial aid, the obstacles she has faced since becoming national chair, and provide advice to administrators on how to navigate an unprecedented year due to the continued disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus. Keep an eye out for more special episodes throughout the month of August!

Aug 13, 2020

On a special episode of “Off The Cuff,” Megan is joined by Carrie Warick from the National College Attainment Network and Mark Wiederspan of Iowa College Aid to dive into their contributions to NASFAA’s series of 10 papers that provide policy recommendations to help streamline the FAFSA, with a specific focus on verification. Carrie discusses her paper — co-authored with Raymond AlQaisi and Bill DeBaun — which detailed the relationship between verification and Pell Grant award change. Mark provides insight into his paper — co-authored with Meghan Oster and Stephen DesJardins —  about how verification can act as a stumbling block for low-income students. Megan also asks the two authors what the perfect FAFSA verification process would look like. Keep an eye out for more special episodes from our FAFSA paper series throughout the month of August!

Aug 6, 2020

On a special episode of “Off the Cuff,” Megan is joined by Sandy Baum from the Urban Institute and Lauren Walizer from the Center for Law and Social Policy to discuss their contributions to NASFAA’s series of 10 papers that provide policy recommendations to help streamline the FAFSA. Lauren discusses her paper — co-authored by Elizabeth Lower-Basch — that analyzes the impact of using public benefits to reduce paperwork for students completing the FAFSA and how it would maximize financial aid. Sandy gives an overview of her three papers in the series, which detail the current methodology used to measure a family’s ability to contribute toward educational expenses and reviews the various methods proposed to simplify the FAFSA. The two also gave their answers to what the perfect FAFSA looks like. Keep an eye out for more special episodes from our FAFSA paper series throughout the month of August!

Jul 30, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, and Allie dive into the latest news on the next federal coronavirus relief package, as Senate Republicans this week introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act, which would provide just over $29 billion for higher education. Megan outlines new CARES Act reporting requirements announced by the Department of Education (ED) this week, and gives an update on recent guidance from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement regarding the enrollment of new international students. Allie explains the Department of Homeland Security's recent announcement that it will not process new DACA applications, and gives a summary of a new congressional report that alleges some misconduct on the part of a senior ED official with regard to the accreditation of for-profit institutions owned by the Dream Center. Keep an eye out for special episodes during the month of August, and we'll be back with any breaking news!

Jul 23, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Allie, Megan, and Jill dig into the latest proposal from Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would simplify the FAFSA and modify the current student loan repayment system before borrowers are required to resume monthly payments on October 1, among other things. Megan then provides an update on where things are with the latest federal relief package and what it means for higher education. Jill details the latest guidance from the Department of Education (ED) on additional funding from the CARES Act for institutions in need and how institutions can apply for the reserve fund. Plus, the team wants to know — what have you learned about yourself during the quarantine? 

Jul 16, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team is joined by Craig Munier, NASFAA's 2013-14 National Chair and the 2020 recipient of NASFAA's Meritorious Achievement Award. Craig, who recently retired from the Department of Education, shared his thoughts on how the profession has changed over the course of his career, and how to make the connection between the bigger picture and daily tasks in financial aid. Also in this episode, Justin speaks about what it means to be a nonpartisan organization and how and why NASFAA takes stances on public policies. Megan brings us the latest news on school reopenings and how the discussion is influencing discussions for the next coronavirus relief package on Capitol Hill, as well as the whirlwind events surrounding a rule from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that was rapidly challenged in court and repealed this week. Jill catches the group up on new guidance from ED related to professional judgment, as well as institutional reporting requirements related to CARES Act funding. Plus, the team wants to know what you do to gain perspective.

Jul 10, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie are joined by Ron Day, director of financial aid at Georgia's Kennesaw State University and the 2020 recipient of NASFAA's Lifetime Achievement Award. Ron talks about his career in financial aid, his experience serving as NASFAA's national chair in 2012-13, and what he's looking forward to in retirement. The team also brings the latest news about the federal budget for fiscal year 2021, as a funding bill makes its way through the House, debates over plans to reopen colleges for the fall, and a new rule from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would require international students to leave the country if their fall courses are provided exclusively online. Plus, the team wants to know — based on lyrics alone, which celebrity would you like to see run for president?

Jun 26, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie are joined by 2005-06 NASFAA National Chair David Gelinas, who is the 2020 recipient of NASFAA's Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award that the association can bestow on one of its members. David shares how he earned the nickname "Sheriff Dave," his advice that he would pass along to others in the profession, and what his plans are for retirement. At 12:03, Megan shares the latest on the Department of Education's portal for foreign gift reporting, as well as recently released student loan origination fees. At 19:18, the group discusses news out of Federal Student Aid, as the office announced its selection of five companies to provide customer support to federal student loan borrowers. Plus, the team wants to know: What shows have you been binge watching lately? The podcast team will be on hiatus next week in observance of the Fourth of July — we'll catch up with you in two weeks!

Jun 19, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team welcomes Columbia University's David Sheridan, who is the recipient of the 2020 Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award. David discusses what it takes to succeed in the financial aid profession, how he got his start, and what he's most passionate about. Please join us in congratulating David! Next, the team dives into breaking news from Thursday morning as the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration's attempt to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Megan brings the latest on two lawsuits challenging the Department of Education's guidance and interim final rule that would limit eligibility for CARES Act emergency student grants. Plus, Jill gives an update on the latest guidance on standard terms, as well as GEN-09-05, a Dear Colleague Letter related to professional judgment.

Jun 4, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin is joined by NASFAA's Diversity Officer Craig Slaughter, director of financial aid at Kenyon College in Ohio. Together the two talk about recent developments in the country and what financial aid professionals can do both individually and as an association to help bring about change in combating systemic racism in America and creating equal opportunity for students. Then, the team dives into the latest news regarding the CARES Act, including a recent report from the Congressional Research Service that casts a shadow of doubt on the Department of Education's guidance regarding eligibility for emergency student grants. Meanwhile, the Senate education committee on Thursday held a hearing on reopening college campuses in the fall and what will be required, both with regard to testing and financial resources for students. Finally, Megan brings us up to speed on the future of the Trump administration's borrower defense rule, as Congress moves toward a scheduled date to vote on overriding President Donald Trump's veto of a bipartisan bill that would have blocked implementation of the 2019 rule. Send us your questions, comments, and feedback, remember to subscribe, and we will talk to you next week!

May 22, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie first tackle late breaking news from the Department of Education, as it pulled an about-face in an updated statement saying it would not enforce guidance that would limit federal emergency student grants to those eligible to receive Title IV aid because it lacks “the force and effect of law.” Still, ED reiterated that the emergency grants are not available to undocumented students, international students, or those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrives (DACA) program. The team also dives into last week's guidance from ED on distance education flexibility, R2T4, and campus-based aid. Allie and Megan discuss news that Congress sent a resolution to block implementation of the Trump administration's borrower defense regulation to President Donald Trump's desk, and Justin lays out the latest lawsuit facing ED over its Title IV restrictions for CARES Act grants. Plus — we want to answer more of your questions! Call 202-785-6954 and leave a message with your name, institution, and question regarding CARES Act guidance no later than 12:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday May 27 and we may answer it on our next episode. Happy Memorial Day!

May 15, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie dive into the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the fourth coronavirus relief package proposed this week by House Democrats. The bill would direct roughly $37 billion to higher education, and retroactively prevent the Department of Education (ED) from imposing student eligibility restrictions on higher education emergency relief funds allocated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act — a point for which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has recently come under fire. The team also dives into a NASFAA membership survey that found 72% said ED’s guidance did not provide enough direction to issue student grants in a timely manner. Plus, Allie gets into the details of a lawsuit brought on by the California Community Colleges system, alleging ED's move to restrict emergency grants to Title IV-eligible students was arbitrary, and Jill explains relevant guidance related to professional development.

May 8, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie reconvene to discuss the latest developments regarding CARES Act emergency grant funding for students and institutions, including new updates from the IRS that students' emergency grants will not be counted as taxable income. Jill explains the details of new guidance from the Department of Education on how, when, and where institutions must report data on student emergency grants, and what data points must be made publicly available. Plus, Allie describes a new class action lawsuit against ED arguing defaulted loan borrowers are wrongfully continuing to have their wages garnished, despite ED guidance saying it would halt collections. And the team wants to know: Where are you most looking forward to eating once we return to normal life?

May 4, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin is joined by Francisco Valines of Florida International University, Wayne Kruger of St. Petersburg College and Brad Barnett of James Madison University, who shared how their campuses are distributing emergency grants to students made through the CARES Act. The group discusses the challenges campuses have had with determining a system to distribute grants to students amid the rapidly changing guidance from the Department of Education, whether they will have students self-certify that they meet the requirements of being eligible for Title IV aid, and what their process looks like overall. They also discuss issues with the funding formula for CARES Act aid, as well as what they'd like to see in a future relief package should Congress provide more aid to students and institutions.

Apr 30, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie jump back into the student portion of the emergency funds provided by the CARES Act, touching on remaining confusion about which students qualify and what NASFAA has heard from schools who have begun the process of selecting recipients. First, the group is joined by Jim Eddy of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, who shares how he is helping both his local and higher education community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Skip to 10:20 to get straight to the policy discussion about the emergency funds, and to 25:40 to hear Megan talk about what fall enrollment may look like as students rethink their plans to continue their education. Plus, the group wants to know how you’ve been feeling recently by inviting you to show us via Twitter your six most frequently used emojis.

Apr 23, 2020


This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie tackle new guidance from the Department of Education (ED) released Tuesday that both announced the availability of the institutional share of the emergency funds under the CARES Act and posed new restrictions — introducing a slew of new questions — on the portion of the funding that must be allocated to students. The group delves into confusion around ED’s clarification that a student must be Title IV eligible to receive the emergency funds — such as if there are options for determining that short of having students complete a FAFSA — and what’s coming down the line in terms of additional ED guidance and relief bills from Congress. The team is also joined by special guest Mark San Marino of DeVry University, who shared how his university is helping others in the higher education community transition to online learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. Plus, the group wants to know: is your financial aid office or institution leading any efforts to support your community?

Apr 21, 2020

In a pop-up episode of "Off The Cuff," Justin, Jill, and Allie gather shortly after the Department of Education released additional guidance on the allowable uses of emergency funding for students and institutions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, specifically noting that students must be Title IV eligible to receive the funds. The guidance addressed several outstanding questions, such as clarifying that students who were enrolled exclusively in online programs on March 13 (the date of President Donald Trump’s national emergency proclamation) are not eligible to receive the emergency grants, that institutions may not use the student portion of funding to reimburse themselves for tuition or room and board refunds, and that the student grants may not be used to cover outstanding balances on a student account. By stating that only Title IV eligible students would be able to receive emergency grants, the guidance also excluded international students and those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from receiving emergency funding. NASFAA has already reached out to ED regarding the scope of its statement that only “students who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), may receive emergency financial aid grants.” Stay tuned for more updates in the coming days!

Apr 14, 2020

In a special episode of "Off The Cuff," Justin and Megan are joined by other members of NASFAA's policy team — Director of Policy Analysis Karen McCarthy and Policy Analyst Jill Desjean — to answer some of the most pressing questions that have sprouted from the Department of Education's (ED) most recent announcement regarding the distribution of emergency grant funding for student aid. The team covers a wide range of topics, such as which students would be eligible to receive the aid (DACA students, non-Title IV recipients, graduate students, or international students, for example) and what would be considered an eligible use of the funds. Other issues covered in this episode include the process for submitting the certification form for grant funding — including which campus departments need to be involved — how institutions should report on the use of funds, and other outstanding issues. Stay tuned for more episodes of "Off The Cuff," and as always, send us your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Apr 13, 2020

On this special episode of “Off The Cuff,” Justin is joined by financial aid directors at three institutions — Lauren Jackson of Northwestern State University, Francisco Valines of Florida International University, and Wayne Kruger of St. Petersburg College — to discuss how their schools are using the emergency stabilization funds allocated to higher education in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The group delves into who on campus submitted their certification and agreement forms on behalf of the institution, how funds will be distributed and to which students, and whether they have required some form of application for students to qualify for the funds, among other issues. The group also talks about outstanding points of confusion within the legislation their institutions are still wrestling with, and shares advice for schools seeking to best distribute their funds to students in need. Stay tuned for more special episodes of “Off The Cuff.”

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