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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 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 28, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," the team revisits the latest updates from the Department of Education (ED) regarding the enforcement of guidance restricting emergency CARES Act grants to students who are Title IV-eligible, and fields questions from two members related to the CARES Act. Megan then dives into the latest news in a lawsuit against ED over the Title IV eligibility guidance, and the argument from ED attorneys that the guidance was just preliminary. Justin summarizes a letter from a bipartisan group of senators asking ED to take additional steps to ensure recent changes in a student’s financial circumstances in the wake of COVID-19 are taken into account in the FAFSA application process, which leads to Jill's examination of whether a now-archived Dear Colleague Letter is still applicable. Finally, the team discusses the chances of a veto on Congress's measure to block implementation of the 2019 borrower defense regulations, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) proactively scheduled a vote to override an anticipated veto. Plus, we're still taking your questions! If you'd like to "call in" to the podcast, please leave your name, institution, and question in a voicemail at 202-785-6954.

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.”

Apr 10, 2020

This week on "Off The Cuff," Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie continue discussions on the impact the novel coronavirus is having on higher education and student financial aid — including breaking news from the Department of Education regarding the distribution of emergency funds to be used to directly help students. The team is also joined by special guest Renee Swift of Nazareth College, who shared her experience adjusting to teleworking and navigating new guidance around financial aid during the COVID-19 outbreak. At 15:30, Justin discusses likely increases in professional judgment requests as students and families adjust to new financial realities, and at 19 minutes, Jill gets into the details of ED's latest guidance released late last Friday. At 29:30, Megan gives an update on the latest new from Capitol Hill and whether we'll see another relief package, as well as a $47 billion ask from the higher education community. Plus, the group wants to know: If your quarantine name is the last thing you ate, plus your high school mascot, what would your name be? Until next week - signed, "Pretzel Bite Don."

Apr 2, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie reconvene via Zoom to discuss guidance institutions are still awaiting from the Department of Education (ED) surrounding the impact of the novel coronavirus on Title IV aid. At 11:45, Megan talks about additional COVID-19 relief bills being drafted, and how much support there will continue to be for higher education, and at 14:25, Allie discusses ED’s new instructions for loan servicers to suspend borrowers' payments on federally-held loans and waive their interest accrual — as mandated in the recently passed relief package — by next week. At 17:18, Jill delves into ED’s proposed rule on distance education released Thursday for public comment, and the group wants to know: Do you want to join NASFAA’s Zoom podcast, and if so, what would you talk about? We’re excited to (virtually) host a few of you on the show!

Mar 26, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie hop back onto video chat to continue talks about institutions, students, and Title IV aid during the novel coronavirus outbreak. At 8:55, Megan delves into the higher education provisions included in the $2 trillion stimulus package that passed through the Senate and is awaiting a vote from the House and the president’s signature. At 22 minutes in, Jill answers some outstanding COVID-19 questions from members, such as those related to whether it is considered estimated financial aid (EFA) if a school delays a refund of institutional charges until the following academic year. At 31:33, Allie catches the group up on relief for student borrowers from the Department of Education (ED) and steps that institutions are taking to support students impacted by the coronavirus. Plus, the team wants to know: If how we are feeling about COVID-19 can be described as the six stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, eating?), where are you finding yourself? 

Mar 19, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie reconvene over Zoom to practice social distancing while catching up on the latest news surrounding COVID-19. Justin and Jill discuss the most frequently asked questions during last week’s webinar on the novel coronavirus and its impact on Title IV aid — such as those related to paying students for Federal-Work Study (FWS) as campuses close — and touch on inquiries that were not answered during the session, such as how switching from letter grades to pass/fail might impact students’ eligibility for aid. At 15:56, Megan talks about movement on the Hill to pass legislation to support current students and those making student loan payments during the coronavirus outbreak, and at 28 minutes in Allie discusses options for relief for private student loan borrowers. Plus the group wants to know: how are you staying calm during this outbreak? If you missed NASFAA’s previous COVID-19 webinar, you can now access it online, and be sure to tune into our follow-up webinar April 2.

Mar 12, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Allie jump back into a discussion about the Title IV implications of the Coronavirus and tackle member questions still outstanding since the Department of Education (ED) released guidance about disrupted programs and federal student aid last week. Jill dives into virus-related issues surrounding payment for Federal Work-Study students after campuses close, the argument for adjusting cost of attendance, and how and when to address the return of Title IV funds. The group also details concerns NASFAA has discussed on the Hill — and is still seeking answers to — related to Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used and adherence to state authorization regulations. At 27:06, Megan and Allie talk about forward movement on a bill to nullify the Trump administration's borrower defense regulations and news that five universities may have to stop enrolling new students using their GI Bill benefits. Plus, the team shares a catchy new song to help you properly wash your hands. Stay healthy!

Feb 27, 2020

This week on “Off The Cuff,” Justin, Megan, Jill, and Rachel delve into the Title IV implications of the Coronavirus on students in disrupted study abroad programs. At 10:43, Jill answers questions from members about whether the Department of Education (ED) will offer regulatory relief for universities and students. At 19:20, Megan talks about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her defense of President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal as it relates to higher education, and details a letter ED’s general counsel wrote on DeVos’ behalf defending her refusal to testify on a slew of issues from sexual assault on campus to student loan forgiveness. Rachel discusses welcome upgrades to the student-facing portion of the federal student aid website at 26:24, and the group wants to know: What food do you spend an exorbitant amount of money on?

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.

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