PASFAA is a volunteer professional association representing over 300 Pennsylvania educational institutions, lenders, and organizations involved with higher education. Along with providing professional development to its members and educating the public on financial aid, advocating for access to post-secondary education is a key component of the PASFAA mission.
It is in this spirit of PASFAA advocacy that we have assembled a Government Relations Committee that represents the many financial aid sectors across Pennsylvania.
The members of the PASFAA Government Relations group recommends the following to improve student financial aid: elimination of Direct Loan Fees; improvements to the Stafford loan program; support for PLUS loans; expansion of Pell grants; and careful efforts to simplify the FAFSA.
Eliminate Direct Loan Origination Fees.
PASFAA supports the elimination of origination fees for federal loan programs. Federal loan fees add unnecessarily to the complexity of student aid, leaving students and families unable to accurately predict balances. Removing fees will improve clarity and simplify payments for families, thereby reducing over-borrowing.
Improve Stafford loans.
Aside from the elimination of origination fees, our group recommends improvements to the Stafford loan program: maintaining Subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates; re-instating Subsidized Stafford loans for Graduate students; and increasing Stafford loan limits.
Support Federal PLUS loans.
Federal PLUS loans are available in two types: Graduate and Parent PLUS loans. Discussions of imposing strict caps on Parent PLUS loan borrowing and eliminating the Graduate PLUS loans are concerning. Parent PLUS loans provide a vehicle for families to finance the unmet costs of education for undergraduates. Similarly, the Graduate PLUS loans provided graduate students a means of self-help to finance their education.
While PASFAA members are concerned about the growth of student loans, we are wary of the impact of PLUS reduction or elimination proposals on access to higher education. We ask that during any discussion on curtailing the availability of these programs, consideration be given to ensuring students and parents have clear alternatives to finance their education.
Expand Pell Grants
The Pell grant program is a Federal grant program with bi-partisan support. Recently, there have been moves to “double the Pell.” PASFAA recommends increasing the Pell grant as well as expanding Pell eligibility to other students.
Historically, our group has strongly supported the increased use of the data retrieval tool to aid the completion of FAFSA forms and the accuracy of the information. In addition to data retrieval, we have long supported elimination of the misleading term “expected family contribution” or “EFC.” Our group is excited for many of these changes that will occur, but we also have some concerns regarding the methodology. Contact PASFAA to discuss these details.
These are just some of the issues that the PASFAA Government Relations Committee hopes to support with the 117th Congress.