Release Notes

Mid-to-late each month, new release notes will be published to this page that provide a quick glimpse at what people are clicking most, hot topics related to Congressional or U.S. Department of Education happenings, lists of new resources and partners, and more.

 

July 2021

What's New

Well, here we are in the dog days of summer. The news out of the Department of Education doesn't seem to be slowing down one bit and neither is the rapid clip at which we're adding resources into the Student Aid Reference Desk. Read on for a look at what's new.

 

Trending Topics

Terms that are getting the most clicks and search traffic right now include: 

  1. Direct Loans
  2. Verification
  3. Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)
  4. Student Eligibility
  5. Institutional Eligibility
  6. Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  7. Program Participation Agreement (PPA)
  8. Professional Judgment (PJ)

"Direct Loans" was the most clicked-on topic for the third month in a row, a trend we expect will continue in the coming months. Questions related to Direct Loans will surely continue bubbling up given that, as of last quarter, 42 million borrowers (all but 500,000 borrowers) were taking advantage of the federal forbearance period that paused payments and interest accrual on all federally held student loans. A slew of top Democrats from both chambers of Congress are increasingly pressuring President Joe Biden and leadership at the Department of Education to extend the pause on payments, which will resume as of October 1, if no extension is granted.

It also comes at no surprise to see "Verification" second on the list of terms getting the most traffic, particularly given the department's announcement earlier this month that it is making temporary changes to the verification process for the 2021-22 award year as a means of providing relief to students financially challenged by the pandemic and aim to reduce barriers to enrollment for millions of low-income students to access financial aid. Under this new guidance, effective July 13, financial aid offices are able to waive all income verification in all groups of applicants, a move that prevents students who need funding the most from getting bogged down in bureaucratic red tape.

 

New Resources

Each week this summer, Ref Desk partners and NASFAA staff will focus on adding historical resources to a particular topic in an effort to make the Ref Desk a full repository. In June, we focused on Verification, Student Eligibility, Enrollment Status, and Satisfactory Academic Progress, and so far in July we have focused on the Pell Grant and TEACH Grant. We encourage readers to check out the nearly 50 publications that were recently added on these topics.

 

Featured Functionality

This month we'd like to focus on the submission feature. We are always looking to make the Ref Desk more robust. Do you think there is a piece of research that we should include? Anyone may submit resources for inclusion in the Ref Desk using this form. Research and reports should be nonpartisan and NASFAA staff will review all submitted items before inclusion.

 

Partners Spotlight

This month the Ref Desk would like to spotlight one of our contributing partners: the American Council on Education (ACE). As a member of the Ref Desk's contributing partners, ACE helps provide overall feedback on works contributed and elevates the tool to their membership. 

If you are, or know, a group or individual interested in becoming a Ref Desk partner, please reach out to NASFAA's Research Department for more details on how to join our growing group of supporters. There are many different ways to get involved and help us champion the Ref Desk!

Have suggestions to help us improve the Ref Desk? Contact Us.

 

 

June 2021

What's New

Much like the balmy summer headed our way here in Washington, D.C., throughout the last month the Student Aid Reference Desk has been picking up steam. Since the publication of our May release notes (found lower down on this page), we have been pleased to add two more project partners, one more Department of Education reference, and 15 more publications, articles, and resources. June saw a newly added Ref Desk resource — which provides findings from a May 2021 survey of financial aid administrators and shows that more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, families and students are still struggling to afford college — written about in respected trade publications, including Inside Higher Ed and University Business. There's a lot more to explore in the Ref Desk this month — dive in below.

 

Trending Topics

Terms that are getting the most clicks and search traffic right now include: 

  1. Direct Loans
  2. Verification
  3. Return of Title IV Funds
  4. Student Eligibility
  5. Consumer Information
  6. Cost of Attendance
  7. Institutional Eligibility
  8. Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Of note, Direct Loans continues to be a trending topic in the month of June. As the clock ticks down on the moratorium on federal student loan repayments, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been pressing Department of Education officials for details. Meanwhile, policymakers and researchers have continued to discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls of widespread loan forgiveness. 

 

New Resources

Each week this summer, Ref Desk partners and NASFAA staff will focus on adding historical resources to a particular topic in an effort to make the Ref Desk a full repository. In May, we focused on Cohort Default Rate and so far in June we have focused on Verification. We encourage readers to check out the:

- Fifteen Cohort Default Rate Publications, Articles & Other Resources; and

- Seven Verification Publications, Articles & Other Resources that were recently added.

Anyone may submit resources for inclusion in the Ref Desk using this form. Research and reports should be nonpartisan and NASFAA staff will review all submitted items before inclusion.

 

Featured Functionality

Did you know that related terms are linked within each term and subtopic where applicable? For example, Academic Year also has links to Program Eligibility and Payment Period.

 

New Partner Spotlight

This month the Ref Desk would like to spotlight one of our newest partners: the Journal of Student Financial Aid (JSFA). The JSFA is a peer-reviewed outlet featuring works of significance in all areas of postsecondary student financial assistance. With over 40 works included in the Ref Desk, the JSFA has been working diligently to ensure its relevant studies are included.

If you are, or know, a group or individual interested in becoming a Ref Desk partner, please reach out to NASFAA's Research Department for more details on how to join our growing group of supporters. There are many different ways to get involved and help us champion the Ref Desk!

 

Roadmap

Currently, we are exploring how to improve the display of the resources for visitors to the site, attribute resources in a way that is helpful to users, and make our wheelhouse of resources more robust.

Have suggestions to help us improve the Ref Desk? Contact Us.

 

 

May 2021

What's New

The Student Aid Reference Desk — Ref Desk, for short — launched to the public in March 2021. Since its launch, we have welcomed several additional organizations as partners and we are exploring how to further improve the tool for maximum benefit to site visitors. Check out this inaugural edition of our release notes for the happenings of the last two months. 

 

Trending Topics

Terms that are getting the most clicks and search traffic right now include: 

  1. Direct Loans
  2. Verification
  3. Student Eligibility
  4. Return of Title IV Funds
  5. Consumer Information
  6. Packaging
  7. Cost of Attendance
  8. Perkins Loan Program

It's no surprise to see "Direct Loans" getting lots of attention given all of the conversation around loan forgiveness and the Department of Education's March 30 announcement about the pause on interest accumulation and collections on all defaulted loans for those in the FFEL program.

 

New Resources

Since the launch of this tool last month, we've added links to several resources you and/or your colleagues or members may find useful, including:

  1. A new report from Trellis Company on the state of student aid, which can be found under the Publications, Articles & Other Resources of the Cost of Attendance term.
  2. Journal articles published by the Journal of Student Financial Aid on Pell Grant eligibility and receipt and The Journal of Higher Education on causal impacts of the statewide Tennessee Promise program on students' borrowing behaviors in a community college system, which can be found, respectively, under Verification and Direct Loans.
  3. A white paper from the National Association of Clery Compliance Officers and Professionals on reporting campus crime accurately, which can be found under Consumer Information.
  4. More than a dozen announcements and references from the Department of Education, found under the Administrative Capability, Audit and Program Review, Cash Management, Cohort Default Rate, Federal Work-Study Program, Student Eligibility, and Verification terms.

Anyone may submit resources for inclusion in the Ref Desk using this form. Research and reports should be nonpartisan and NASFAA staff will review all submitted items before inclusion.

 

Featured Functionality

Did you know you can bookmark a frequently referenced topic or subtopic? Just click on the link and follow instructions on your browser to bookmark it. Whenever you need it, your bookmark will take you to that exact place in the Ref Desk and the resource you need.

 

New Partners

The Ref Desk is pleased to welcome these new partners:

Distributing Partners

    1. University Professional and Continuing Education Association
    2. Achieving the Dream

Supporting Partner

    1. Trellis Company

If you are or know a group or individual interested in becoming a Ref Desk partner we ask that you reach out to NASFAA's Research Department and they will be happy to share the details of how to join our growing group of supporters. There are many different ways to get involved and help us champion the Ref Desk!

 

Roadmap

Currently, we are exploring how to improve the display of the resources for visitors to the site and the organization of resources.

 

Have suggestions to help us improve the Ref Desk? Contact Us.