Release Notes

New release notes will be published to this page monthly to 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.

 

March 2022

What's New

The end of February and beginning of March brought two more sessions of negotiated rulemaking, during which negotiators sought to come to consensus on a number of regulatory topics, including gainful employment, the 90/10 rule, ability to benefit, and standards of administrative capability. The final negotiating session ran through March 18, as the committee ultimately reached consensus on just two out of the seven issue papers: the 90/10 rule, along with the ability to benefit regulatory language.

Also out of the Department of Education (ED), thousands of borrowers received a collective $415 million in targeted student loan relief through borrower defense to repayment claims. According to ED, this action — which included nearly 16,000 borrowers — brings the total amount of approved relief under borrower defense to repayment to approximately $2 billion for more than 107,000 borrowers. Still, many lawmakers and officials in the Biden administration say the student loan repayment system needs to be significantly reformed to help borrowers. A new resource added to the Ref Desk this month from Third Way explores principles for student loan servicing reform.

Meanwhile, in early March lawmakers came to a compromise on a long overdue government spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2022. The massive, $1.5 trillion package — which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 15 — allocates $76.4 billion to ED and its programs, a $2.9 billion boost from the FY 2021 enacted level. Specifically, the spending package contains $24.6 billion for federal student aid programs, including a $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, bringing the total to $6,895 for the 2022-23 award year, and includes several changes to the FAFSA Simplification Act, which are detailed in a NASFAA's Today's News article.

Read on for a look at what's new this month in the Ref Desk and check out what you may have missed in previous months.

 

Trending Topics

Terms that are getting the most views 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. Pell Grant
  8. Program Participation Agreement (PPA)

 

New Resources

In the past month, we have added five new resources, including new chapters from the Federal Student Aid Handbook, electronic announcements from the Department of Education, and articles and reports from a variety of sources. Below are some topical areas to check out and newly added resources for each.

 

Cash Management

Campus-Based Programs

Federal Register, 1/31/22, updated 2/11/22

Campus-Based Programs

Electronic Announcement, 2/1/22 (CB-22-05)

Cohort Default Rate

ED References

Cohort Default Rate Guide for Guaranty Agencies and Lenders, 2021

Direct Loans

Publications, Articles, & Other Resources

Getting it Right: Design Principles for Student Loan Servicing Reform (Third Way)

Enrollment Status

Publications, Articles, & Other Resources

You are Admitted! Early Evidence on Enrollment from Idaho's Direct Admissions System

 

Featured Functionality

The Ref Desk is designed to make a variety of resources available in one place. Did you know you can find guidance from the U.S. Department of Education by searching any term? For example, if you search Return of Title IV Funds, there is a main section for ED References, as well as throughout the subtopics, as applicable. 

 

Become a Ref Desk Partner

The Ref Desk is always looking for new partners. Being a partner with the Ref Desk can be as simple as lending your name to our list of supporters. 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!

 

Road Map

Work continues on the new Ref Desk term: Financial Literacy. We are expecting it to launch in early 2022.

Have suggestions to help us improve the Ref Desk? Email us or complete this short form to tell us more about your user experience.

 

February 2022

What's New

February kicked off Financial Aid Awareness Month, as the higher education community, including NASFAA, works to provide crucial information to students and families about access to federal, state, and institutional student aid. 

Central to the financial aid process is filling out the FAFSA — and a new NASFAA survey released this month shows students are beginning to reap the rewards of the use of Early FAFSA and prior-prior year tax information put into place by former President Barack Obama via executive action. The sooner students know their aid eligibility, the better equipped they are to make vital college-going decisions. With more people completing the FAFSA earlier, the question remained whether schools would get financial aid offers out earlier. According to the NASFAA's survey, they are. Nearly half (44%) of institutions said they did or will send their first 2022-23 award year aid offers to first-time undergraduate students before February. By the end of February, 60% of institutions will have sent first-time undergraduates a financial aid offer. Read the full results of NASFAA's survey.

Also in February, Sen. Bob Casey's (D-Pa.) office held a webinar on the student loan landscape for borrowers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The conversation follows the Department of Education's (ED) recently enacted limited waiver, which gives borrowers credit for prior completed payments that would not otherwise count toward PSLF, and detailed how the program would impact borrowers who are eligible for forgiveness during the temporary period, as well as those who will need to navigate the program when the waiver expires.

Meanwhile, ED introduced a number of updates to the College Scorecard, with a focus on data related to college costs, graduation rates, and post-college earnings. ED has continued to bring updates to the resource in order to make it more user friendly — a change that higher education advocates have called for in order to allow students to make more informed choices about the prospective programs.

 

Trending Topics

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

  1. Direct Loans
  2. Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)
  3. Verification
  4. Student Eligibility
  5. Institutional Eligibility
  6. Pell Grant
  7. Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  8. Program Eligibility

 

New Resources

In the past month, we have added 23 new resources, including new chapters from the Federal Student Aid Handbook, electronic announcements from the Department of Education, and articles and reports from a variety of sources. Below are some topical areas to check out and newly added resources for each.

 

Cash Management

Disbursement records (submission to ED)

Electronic Announcement, 1/28/22 (GRANTS-22-01)

Campus-Based Programs

Electronic Announcement, 1/7/22

Pell Grant Program

Electronic Announcement, 8/23/21 (GRANTS-21-07)

Cohort Default Rate

Notification to school

GA-2022-01: Fiscal Year 2019 Cohort Default Rate Calculations

Consumer Information

Publications, Articles, & Other Resources

How Affordable Are Public Colleges In Your State For Low-Income Students? (The Education Trust)

Direct Loans

Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement (ASLA)

Electronic Announcement, 1/21/22 (DL-22-01)

Enrollment Status

ED References

NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Guide (September 2021)

Expected Family Contribution

Publications, Articles, & Other Resources

Access to Higher Education for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Higher Education and Homelessness Resources Page (National Center for Homeless Education)

How to Answer FAFSA Questions About Homelessness (SchoolHouse Connection)

Homelessness determinations

GEN-15-16

Making Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Determinations: A Tool for Financial Aid Administrators, 2022-23

"Making Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Determinations:  A Tool for Financial Aid Administrators, 2021-22"

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (FSEOG) 

Underuse penalty waiver

Electronic Announcement, 1/07/22 (EA ID: CB-22-02)

Federal Work-Study

Waiver of institutional share (100% federal share)

Electronic Announcement, 1/3/22 (CB-22-01)

Financial Responsibility of Institutions

Publications, Articles, & Other Resources

Trellis' Student Financial Wellness Survey: Fall 2020 Semester Results (Trellis Company)

Pell Grant

Payment schedule and disbursement schedule

GEN-22-03

Recordkeeping

Payment schedule and disbursement schedule

GEN-22-03

Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)

ED References

2021-22 FSA Handbook, Vol. 5, January 2022

Administrative withdrawal

2021-22 FSA Handbook, Vol. 5, Ch. 2, January 2022

Clock-hours program

2021-22 FSA Handbook, Vol. 5, Ch. 1, January 2022

Worksheets

2021-22 FSA Handbook, Vol. 5, Appendix

Verification

Education Credits

Electronic Announcement, 1/18/22 (VERIF-22-01)

IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT)

Electronic Announcement, 9/30/21 (APP-21-19), updated 1/13/22

 

Featured Functionality

This month we'd like to focus on the trending and suggested topic features on the homepage. "Trending Topics" reflect the most popular terms based on user visits in the past 30 days, while "Suggested Topics" is a way for NASFAA to flag what it thinks users should keep an eye on. Normally these are timely topics NASFAA is seeing bubbling up with the U.S. Department of Education or members of the higher education community.

 

Become a Ref Desk Partner

The Ref Desk is always looking for new partners. Being a partner with the Ref Desk can be as simple as lending your name to our list of supporters. 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!

 

Road Map

Work continues on the new Ref Desk term: Financial Literacy. We are expecting it to launch in early 2022.

Have suggestions to help us improve the Ref Desk? Email us or complete this short form to tell us more about your user experience.

 

January 2022

What's New

In January, a new group of negotiators geared up for another Department of Education (ED) negotiated rulemaking — or "neg reg" — session, this time focusing on a number of topics including the "90/10 loophole," gainful employment (GE), financial responsibility, administrative capability, and more. Ahead of this session, NASFAA in January published a Gainful Employment Web Center, which provides a broad overview of the history of the GE regulations since 2011. Included are summaries of the three previous rulemaking sessions, links to ED documents, and NASFAA analysis and coverage.

This neg reg session comes on the heels of another deliberation that wrapped up in December, when negotiators reached consensus on four of 12 topics: total and permanent disability discharge, eliminating interest capitalization for nonstatutory capitalization events, false certification discharge, and Pell Grant eligibility for Prison Education Programs. 

In late December, ED announced that it would again extend the payment pause for federally-held student loans through May 1. The announcement came after months of pressure from Democratic lawmakers and student loan advocates who warned resuming payments after the pause expires on Jan. 31, 2022 would leave millions of borrowers struggling as the pandemic continues.

Also in January, financial aid was in the spotlight as a group of 16 colleges and universities were sued by five former students who allege the schools colluded to determine financial aid offers for students, unfairly limiting financial aid offers by utilizing a shared methodology to calculate financial need.

Read on for a look at what's new this month in the Ref Desk and check out what you may have missed in previous months on the release notes page.

 

Trending Topics

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

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

The list of trending topics in January held steady, with Direct Loans continuing to top the list as the most viewed term in the Ref Desk. Direct Loans likely saw a surge in late December and early January due to the ED's decision on Dec. 22, 2021 to again extend the payment pause for federally-held student loans through May 1, 2022.

Pell Grant likely saw a surge in interest due to the focus on the federal program and its role in Prison Education Programs during ED's most recent negotiated rulemaking session.

 

New Resources

In the past month, we have added 11 new resources, including new chapters from the Federal Student Aid Handbook, electronic announcements from the Department of Education, and articles and reports from a variety of sources. Below are some topical areas to check out and newly added resources for each.

 

Cash Management

Disbursement records (submission to ED)

Electronic Announcement, 11/23/21 (GENERAL-21-79)

Direct Loans

Limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver

GEN-21-09

Reconciliation

Electronic Announcement, 12/21/21 (DL-21-06)

Expected Family Contribution

Age of parent/Parents' Education Savings and Asset Protection Allowance

2022-23 FSA Handbook, Vol. AVG, Ch. 3, November 2021

Excluded assets

2022-23 FSA Handbook, Vol. AVG, Ch. 2, November 2021

Misrepresentation

Publications, Articles, & Other Resources

Misrepresentation Memorandum (Postsecondary National Policy Institute)

Professional Judgment

ED References

2022-23 FSA Handbook, Vol. AVG, November 2021

Program Eligibility

Publications, Articles, & Other Resources

State Authorization Memorandum (Postsecondary National Policy Institute)

Program Participation Agreement

Publications, Articles, & Other Resources

Incentive Compensation Memorandum (Postsecondary National Policy Institute)

Verification

Number of family members in household (household size)

2022-23 FSA Handbook, Vol. AVG, Ch. 4, November 2021

Professional Judgment

2022-23 FSA Handbook, Vol. AVG, Ch. 5, November 2021

 

New Functionality

We are excited to announce two new Ref Desk features! Newly added resources will now be easy to identify at a glance. The word "New" will appear in blue next to recently added resources for the first 60 days they are in the Ref Desk. We've also added "source" to the search functionality, so you'll now be able to see not just where in the Ref Desk a search result is catalogued, but also where the resource came from. Looking for a specific article on loan forgiveness that was located in the Journal of Student Financial Aid? Now, you can easily identify it, and also use it to filter the results of your search.

 

Become a Ref Desk Partner

The Ref Desk is always looking for new partners. Being a partner with the Ref Desk can be as simple as lending your name to our list of supporters. 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!

 

Road Map

Work continues on the new Ref Desk term: Financial Literacy. We are expecting it to launch in early 2022.

Have suggestions to help us improve the Ref Desk? Email us or complete this short form to tell us more about your user experience.