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ADEA Advocacy and Government Relations — July 2014

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ADEA Advocacy and Government Relations (ADEA AGR) staff members attended the National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) Conference in Nashville, TN on June 29–July 2. Key sessions tackled higher education issues, such as the Higher Education Act (HEA) that is up for reauthorization in October. HEA finances Title IV student loans and all federal student loan programs.

These issues are of particular interest to ADEA because of the pipeline impact on future dental students. NASFAA President Justin Draeger overviewed several key recommendations offered by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee.  

The Harkin proposal mandates the use of “prior-prior year” income (PPY) in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which employs a multi-year income average to show a more detailed picture of students’ and families’ incomes. The plan proposes auto enrollment of delinquent borrowers into income-based repayment plans and it also rolls back bankruptcy provisions on defaulted private education loans. DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act eligible students are provided with funds through state block grants.

Mr. Draeger also outlined President Obama’s proposed college affordability plan, which requires some congressional action, while other pieces will be implemented through executive order. The plan includes three parts: paying for performance, promoting innovation and completion rates, and ensuring that student debt remains affordable.

President Obama’s proposed college ratings system employs a ratings list generated by the Department of Education and, consequently, would not require congressional action to implement. The list would compare similarly situated colleges and institutions. By 2018, a school’s rating would be tied to Title IV funding, which would require congressional approval. The Department of Education would develop the enforcement metrics and include measures related to access, affordability and outcomes. 

Finally, Mr. Draeger reviewed the draft Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency (FAST) Act, released in June by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the ranking member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee. The FAST Act reinstates year-round Pell Grants, provides financial aid administrators with authority to limit loans for groups of students, streamlines student loan payments into two payment plans (10-year standard repayment and income-based repayment) and utilizes PPY. Other provisions of the bill include the prohibition of part-time students from taking out a full-time loan amount, and the elimination of the FAFSA in lieu of a simplified aid application with two questions: family size and income.

ADEA AGR will continue to monitor the proposed legislation, as well as congressional strategy to reauthorize HEA, while working with the administration to implement policies benefiting dental education and research.

For a summary on recent federal legislative and regulatory news about oral health, dental education, and dental research, read our ADEA Washington Update.

Keep up with recent state legislative and regulatory news about oral health, dental education, and dental research in your state with the ADEA State Update.