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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
Mar 4, 2021

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Allie discusses Miguel Cardona’s recent confirmation as Education Secretary and Justin highlights a letter NASFAA signed onto touting the importance for the newly appointed secretary to implement changes made to the FAFSA in an efficient and timely manner. Allie and Justin then cover the latest news surrounding institutional accountability and the status of ACICS, an embattled accrediting agency. Jill provides an update on the latest news surrounding HEERF and HEERF II, while Megan dives into the latest on the state of play for the House-passed COVID relief package currently being taken up by the Senate. Plus, Justin wants to know: Do you think the pandemic will lead to permanent changes for financial aid operations?

Feb 25, 2021

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin kicks off the episode detailing NASFAA’s position on widespread student loan forgiveness. The group then covers the latest on the nomination process for Miguel Cardona, President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Department of Education (ED), and Justin and Megan discuss the appointment of James Kvaal as ED under secretary, where he will focus on the department’s higher education efforts. Plus, Karen informs institutions on what they need to know regarding the temporary expanded eligibility so more college students can access SNAP benefits.

Feb 18, 2021

This week on a special edition of "Off The Cuff," Justin is joined by three higher education experts who discuss all things regarding student loan forgiveness. Our guests — Tamara Hiler of Third Way, Preston Cooper of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, and Persis Yu of the National Consumer Law Center — share their opinions on how much, if any, student loan debt should be forgiven, as well as who it should be targeted toward. Justin asks each guest who wins and loses if various proposals are adopted, and how to equitably implement such policies. The guests dissect the main benefits of widespread debt forgiveness and what should happen with the students who will take on loans again next year. Plus, Justin wants to know: In the guests’ vision of the future, what will the federal student loan landscape look like?

Feb 11, 2021

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team breaks down the education portion of the fiscal year 2021 budget reconciliation bill that would provide nearly $40 billion in COVID-19 relief aid to institutions of higher education, as well as a provision that would make changes to the federal 90/10 rule. Allie then details a recent report from The Washington Post that found the Department of Education disproportionately selects Black and Latino students for verification, and Megan recaps the latest from Biden administration officials outlining their priorities for higher education at the Community College Legislative Summit. And don’t forget to post on social media all month in celebration of Financial Aid Awareness Month — using the hashtag #FinAidFeb.

Feb 4, 2021

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin and the group recap the highlights from the confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee for Miguel Cardona, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Education. Allie then covers changes and new additions to both the Senate and House education committees, including the controversy regarding the appointment of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to the House Committee on Education and Labor. Megan then provides an update on the status of Biden’s coronavirus relief package and how Congress could pass the legislation. Plus, Justin quizzes the group on this year’s Super Bowl.

Jan 26, 2021

This week on a special edition of “Off The Cuff,” Justin is joined by a trio of financial aid administrators who discussed all things Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and emergency aid. Our special guests share how their institutions worked through their first batch of HEERF funding, in what ways updated guidance impacted their institution’s ability to disburse funds, and what they’re anticipating for this new round of funding — as well as expectations for the Department of Education (ED) staffed by President Joe Biden’s administration. Plus, Justin wants to know: What thoughts would you like to share with Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona?

Jan 21, 2021

This week on “Off The Cuff” Justin and Allie kick things off with a recap of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, his first day in office, and the top higher education priorities NASFAA has for the new administration. Megan highlights additional details about the Biden legislative agenda and congressional reaction. Jill then provides an update on new developments surrounding HEERF II and award notifications. Plus, the group wants to know: What’s your favorite constitutional fun fact?

Jan 14, 2021

This week on “Off The Cuff” the team recaps the resignation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the department’s effort to curtail President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to provide student loan debt relief. Megan provides an update on the congressional agenda ahead of Democrats’ majority in Congress. Allie and Justin dig into details on what’s ahead for the debate over debt relief, and Jill provides a brief update on HEERF reporting and expected guidance. Plus, the group wants to know: What was your best purchase last year?

Jan 7, 2021

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin provides listeners with a brief editorial addressing the recent violence at the U.S. Capitol. At 7:01 the team provides insight into how the results from Georgia’s Senate runoff elections could impact President-elect Joe Biden’s higher education agenda. Megan then offers a recap of Congress’ massive year end spending bill that contained a number of higher education policies. Allie covers a farewell letter issued by outgoing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Congress, and Jill highlights the Department of Education’s (ED) reopening of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Plus, the group wants to know: what one word encompasses your expectations for 2021?

Dec 22, 2020

This week on a special edition of "Off The Cuff," the group breaks down the bipartisan year-end spending package that includes additional pandemic relief for higher education as well as a number of other higher education-related policy changes, including simplifying the FAFSA, increasing the maximum Pell Grant award and expanding the program to incarcerated students, and giving financial aid offices more flexibility in professional judgment (PJ) cases during a national emergency. Skip to 8:40 to get straight to the policy discussion, where the team provides insight into what the spending package means for financial aid offices. Thanks for listening to "Off The Cuff" this year and we hope you’ll join us for more episodes in 2021!

Dec 10, 2020

This week on a special edition of "Off The Cuff," the group does a deep dive on the state of FAFSA simplification, providing a look at NASFAA's involvement, highlighting ongoing advocacy work on this topic, and examining how it has impacted FAFSA legislation up to this point. Karen gives a summary of the House and Senate bills that are being considered before Megan and Justin discuss the state of play on Capitol Hill and the chance that FAFSA simplification legislation makes its way into a must-pass year-end government funding bill.

Dec 3, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team discusses a positive development from each of their Thanksgivings before Justin and Allie unpack the latest from Federal Student Aid's annual training conference, touching on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' remarks where she denounced free college proposals and student debt forgiveness. Justin then covers an update from the conference on verification rates. Jill highlights the conference's focus on cybersecurity measures for financial aid offices and Megan provides an update on where spending bills and a COVID-19 relief package stand on Capitol Hill, as well as the potential for FAFSA simplification legislation to make progress.

Nov 19, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Jill kicks things off by highlighting the latest developments a recent court ruling has had on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Allie provides an update on NASFAA’s Advocacy Pipeline and recaps our first-ever virtual Advocacy Pipeline event, where graduate and professional aid administrators recently met with congressional staffers. Justin delves into NASFAA’s advocacy surrounding the efforts to “Double the Pell” and what sort of internal policy discussions are going on at NASFAA to urge congressional leaders to provide students with additional federal resources through the Pell Grant program. Megan then dives into the higher education policies that NASFAA has been discussing with President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team and NASFAA’s priorities for the new administration and the incoming Congress. Plus, the group wants to know: What are some things that you’re convinced people only pretend to enjoy?

Nov 12, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin kicks things off by highlighting where things stand in the presidential transition process and what implications that transition could have for the Department of Education with President-Elect Joe Biden reshaping the agency. Megan dives into how congressional leaders are approaching an impending spending deadline and what NASFAA members should be on the lookout for when it comes to these massive appropriations packages. Jill highlights what a Biden administration could mean for debt forgiveness and also gives members a preview of new guidance from ED on requirements for institutions when it comes to foreign gift reporting. Plus, the group wants to know what happened in the past week that really caught your attention.

Nov 5, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin dives into the takeaways from the presidential election results, which as of the podcast’s recording was still undecided, and what it all means for a number of higher education issues like FAFSA simplification and Higher Education Act reauthorization. Megan delves into what is slated for the lame duck session of Congress and ongoing spending talks, and Justin touts a letter NASFAA signed onto that urged the Department of Education (ED) to extend and expand the current student loan repayment relief, which currently expires on December 31. Jill then talks about changing guidance on R2T4 waivers. Plus, the group takes a guess as to how each member tuned into coverage of election night and wants to know if you were glued to social media and network coverage, or if you spent the night relaxing.

Oct 29, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin tries to recruit Megan, Allie, and Karen to join his movement to get rid of changing the clocks for daylight saving time. Justin and Megan then dive into what higher education priorities President Donald Trump could focus on in his second term if re-elected and what Vice President Joe Biden would look to accomplish should he win the White House. Allie talks about a recent article detailing Democrats’ higher education agenda for the next congressional term, and Megan and Karen discuss what to expect regarding the Department of Education’s enforcement of foreign gifts reporting. Plus, the group discusses their childhood fears and if they’ve overcome them.

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!

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