Monday, December 14, 2015

Thoughts for 2016 - Federal Issues

Brian Weingert
MASFAA Federal Issues, 2016 Chair

December is normally a great time of year to reflect back on the past year on both the successes and failures. This year seems to be different as I find myself thinking a lot about the upcoming year and what is lurking around the corner. I’m sure everyone has talked about PPY; I guess we are supposed to call it early FAFSA and specified tax year. So I’m thinking about if the updates to our financial aid management system will be ready to begin processing early? When will the cost of attendance be set? When will award letters begin to be sent? How is it going to impact our outreach efforts, when we offer financial aid nights, FAFSA workshops, and College Goal Sunday, and how we are going to communicate these changes to the students and families we serve?

The HEA Reauthorization expired in 2013. Can we expect reauthorization in an election year? Or are we looking at a replay of the 2003 reauthorization where Congress passed 13 extensions until Congress finally passed Reauthorization in 2008? Is reauthorization just going to be more consumer disclosures, more requirements that lead to more regulations and complexity, and more responsibilities for financial aid professionals to remain compliant that takes away time from counseling students?

As you may be aware, beginning with the 2016-2017 FAFSA, schools will no longer be able to see the list of schools that a student lists on the ISIR, except their own school code. What you may not be aware of is beginning with 2017-18, the Department of Education is discussing mixing the order of the schools on the ISIR that is sent to your state grant agency. This is going to impact each state a little differently depending on how your state processes its state aid programs. This may lead some states to develop another application or another process that a student will have to go through to let a state know what school to award their state aid at.

It would be nice to be able to take a moment to reflect on the past year. While those days may be gone, we can definitely say there is hardly a dull moment in financial aid and 2016 is going to be an interesting year for all of us.

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