May 31, 2024

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 8 - Issue 18

Policy and Advocacy

This Week in Washington

The Education Department (ED) announced yesterday that it will be taking steps to improve and modernize the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) in the wake of the tumultuous Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) cycle this year. This will include conducting a full-scale review of FSA’s current structure and processes, making changes to leadership, increasing oversight and accountability, and hiring an independent consulting firm to make further recommendations. Additionally, ED has named Denise Carter, a current acting assistant secretary, the Principal Deputy Chief Operating Officer of FSA while it searches for a permanent replacement for Richard Cordray, who is leaving FSA in June.

On May 6, ED launched the Student Support Strategy to increase the number of students completing their FAFSA and enrolling in college. As part of the strategy, ED has provided funds for the Educational Credit Management Corporation to administer to organizations with experience expanding college access and enrollment. Since then, 65 organizations have received federal funding to increase FAFSA completions for the 2024-25 academic year. These organizations include Iowa College Access Network, Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, and the Oregon TRIO Association.

News You Can Use

While much of the attention on the challenging FAFSA rollout has been on first-year applicants, obstacles to renewing the FAFSA are also impacting current students, who are counting on federal financial aid for the fall semester.

A poll by The Century Foundation and Morning Consult found that nearly three in 10 voters have not heard of the Biden-Harris Administration's student debt forgiveness initiatives.

A recently published working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzes the challenges surrounding federal student loans, highlighting the role of changes in federal policies.

Recent Legislation

There were no relevant student-aid related bills recently introduced for consideration by the 118th Congress (2023-2024).