ILASFAA Legislative Issues Committee wants to hear from you!

Reference:  DCL ID: GEN-15-03

Wind-down of the Federal Perkins Loan Program

The 2014-2015 Legislative Issues Committee wants to hear from you!  What discussions have taken place on your campus regarding future awarding of the Federal Perkins Loan?

  1. Has the Financial Aid Office initiated dialog with Bursar Services (e.g. Student Loan Collections) and/or Controller’s Office regarding the possible loss of administrative cost allowance?
  2. Is your institution awarding Federal Perkins for 2015-2016 to all students with the first disbursement taking place prior to September 30, 2015?
  3. What are your thoughts on capturing transfer students for Spring, 2016 who received Federal Perkins disbursements from a previous institution (prior to September 30, 2015)?
  4. What are your general thoughts about Dear Colleague Letter 15-03?

Reference:  http://www.ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN1503.html

Reality Store 2014 recap!

In November, just before Thanksgiving, financial aid administrators throughout the state of Illinois gathered at Kershaw Elementary School in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood for our annual Reality Store. 74 students, grades 6-8, took part in the reality store; while it was a small group, it was certainly a lively bunch!

The day started off with Past President Mary Shaw introducing the concept of the reality store to the students at a short assembly, after which the sixth graders started their journey through a month in the life of an adult! Students worked with Lorie (Governor’s State), Kelsey (University of St. Francis), Laura C. (St. Xavier University), Marchello (UIC) and Aesha (Illinois Institute of Technology) to draw their family size (single/married, no kids/number of kids) and occupation/salary at random.

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Next, each student moved on to the various stations to complete tasks such as talking with Jaime & Jessica (Concordia University) to determine their grocery expenditures; deciding whether they would be frugal, moderate or extravagant about clothing budget with Erika (St. Francis); and getting help from Laura N. (University of Chicago) and Betsy (Illinois State) to choose their housing type. A visit to Jennifer & Adrian (College of DuPage) at the Wheel of Fortune drove home the effect that chance might have on your expenses—did you earn $100 at your garage sale, or do you have a $200 deductible to pay from a car accident?

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At the check-out table, Lyn (Illinois State) and Candace (Danville Area Community College) reviewed the activity with each student before they could get their goodie bag. Students who had a surplus at the end of the month might be encouraged to start a retirement account, increase their loan payment, or open an emergency fund. If a student was in the red at the end of the month, they had to make some adjustment to their choices (maybe instead of a high-end sports car, a mid-range compact would fit their budget!)

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One of the students happened to select Associate Director of Financial Aid as her occupation. She seemed a bit skeptical at first, but by the time she checked out, she was excited to share her outcome–$125 left over for the month! When asked if she had considered what sort of career she wanted to pursue, her answer was, “I want to do this. Really—do you all have a card or something?” Keep your eyes open—someone out there may have this young lady as an eager applicant seeking a job as a financial aid counselor in ten years or so!

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At the close of the afternoon, we all gathered in the auditorium for a short wrap-up assembly. Mary led the students in a short discussion to determine what they might have taken away from the reality store program. Many of the students indicated that it opened their eyes to the challenges their parents face, and the importance of continuing on through college in order to have a secure and successful future.

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All in all, it was a great afternoon with a group of bright, enthusiastic young people. As chair of the Diversity committee, I want to thank every volunteer who took the time out of their busy schedule to spend the day in Chicago; without you, we could never have pulled this off! Special thanks also to Erika Guzman for recruiting volunteers; Sylvia Ponce de Leon and Lorie Webster for soliciting items to give out to the students; and Michelle Wortel for designing the t-shirt each student received. Lastly, thanks to each member of the Diversity committee—your commitment and passion helped make this event a success.

In congruence with committee’s mission, we had a broad array of folks representing various institutional types, career levels, and communities throughout the state. The Reality Store, at a glance:

– Educational institutions represented: 20
– Out-of-state institution represented: 1
– Lender/servicer representatives: 3
– Proprietary institutions: 1
– Public, 4-year: 7
– Public, 2-year: 4
– Private: 8

We even had about 10 volunteers who were new to the Reality Store this year–in fact, one of the newbies decided to take a turn in the reality store herself:

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All in all, it was a great day. Here’s to next year!

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Macomb workshop–homeless youth follow-up

Last week at the fall workshop, we had a couple of situations presented during the Q&A that we wanted confirmation on. Luckily, Cyekeia Lee, Director of Higher Education Initiatives at NAEHCY, came to the rescue.

Question 1: If a student was determined UHY due to a determination from the homeless shelter director or school liaison when they entered university, is the college then required to complete an interview each subsequent year of enrollment or is the documentation received from the official upon matriculation their first year sufficient for all other years?

The documentation from a school district is only valid for one academic year, so the school districts determination will not matriculate, and the school district cannot make a determination for a subsequent year. Thereafter if a student cannot get a determination of their unaccompanied homeless youth status from any of the other verifiers (if they have not stayed or received services from a HUD or RHYA funded shelter) the Financial Aid Administrator must make a determination of the students unaccompanied homeless youth status. Here is the corresponding excerpt from Chapter 5 of the 2014-15 AVG.
“a. If a student does not have, and cannot get, documentation from any of the authorities given on page 28, you must deter¬mine if she is an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.”

Question 2: Some counselors have received documentation from a high school that was questionable, and the college is hesitant to believe that the high school documentation absolves them of having to probe further. In one example, an FAA stated the student had a fight with their parents and spent one night in their car (the student confirmed with the FA counselor that it was a single night). However, this student had documentation from their school that they were UHY. It’s our understanding that the school must accept the documentation from the HS/homeless liaison, but the concern was that there would be blowback on the college’s part—-is that a valid concern?

According to the AVG verification of a students unaccompanied homeless youth status is not required by a college or university. Excerpt from AVG:

“Verification not required: You are not required to verify the answers to the homeless youth questions unless you have conflicting information. A documented phone call with, or a written statement from, one of the relevant authorities is sufficient verification when needed. It is not conflicting information if you disagree with an authority’s determination that a student is homeless.
If you believe the authority is incorrect or abusing the process, accept his determination but contact the following oversight party, as relevant, to evaluate the authority’s determinations: School district homeless liaison: contact the coordinator of education for homeless children and youth programs of the state’s educational agency. A list of state coordinators can be found at: http://center.serve.org/nche/states/ state_resources.php.”

If a student was homeless on or any time after July 1, of the previous year and the McKinney-Vento Liaison can make a determination of the students McKinney-Vento eligibility status. Often students may have stable housing, then be back on the streets so you don’t want to have students making 10 FAFSA changes. The status can be reviewed each year. However if the FAA’s thinks that the Liaison is abusing the decision they can contact the State Coordinator for Illinois.

Thank you all for your attendance and great questions! Once again, ILASFAA members have demonstrated their care and passion towards working with and provide the best service to students, and your work is appreciated!

HUY Response

Hello all!
At the Fall Workshops, we had the following question regarding whether or not we could consider a student an unaccompanied or homeless. youth.
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Question:
A student is court-ordered to go to counseling AND court-ordered not to contact or visit parents during his/her stay at counseling (it is a rehabilitation-center). Would the student be considered unaccompanied in this case?

This is the response we had received from our NAEHCY expert, Cyeaka:

For this first scenario the student would be considered unaccompanied, if the court order is preventing contact, communication, etc. I can’t imagine there would be a whole lot of support going on here. However I would also look at the span of the court order, is a 30 days and the student can go back home? Did the student indicate that there is underlying issues that would prevent him/her from really ever going back home? Does the student lack fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence in the mist of all of this? Is the rehabilitation center the only place the student can call home? I know this is a lot more questions, but I would raise them to cover all the basis. If the answer is yes the student can’t go home, has no intention of returning home, has no other housing, then I would make the determination that the student is an unaccompanied homeless youth. If the student’s housing changes and the relationship stabilizes, and the student can go back home then I would make the student dependent.

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Thank you all again for your participation and great questions!

For those of you going to the training on 11/05, the Diversity Committee will be offering the session once again!

 

ILASFAA Legislative Blog Wednesday Energizer!

The 2014-2015 Legislative Issues Committee for the Illinois Association of Financial Aid Administrators is underway with its third Blog!

The goal for 2014-2015 is to provide resources that allow members to be engaged in the legislative process.  The top three objectives for this award year are to:

  1. Explore ways to create and grow relationships with State and Federal legislators and their staff.
  2. Encourage discussion, educate the membership, and provide tools that will enable members to be engaged in the legislative process.
  3. Provide resources detailing necessary steps to respond to proposed regulations and negotiated rule making.

The ILASFAA Legislative Issues Committee wants to energize its members and possibly recruit new members with monthly blogs of briefings from the Federal and State levels.  We aim for conversation, so for all of you subscribed to this Blog let us hear your thoughts!

State Briefings

“Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” (or “PIF”)

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) has created a new resource page as a way to gather feedback and information regarding college financing models external to Illinois.

Public Act 98-920 directs ISAC to study the practicality and feasibility of implementing a PIF program in Illinois. In PIF models, the State or the college initially covers all or a portion of the student’s education costs (e.g., tuition and mandatory fees), and the student pays the system back by contributing a percentage of his or her income for a number of years after leaving school.

  1. What are the pros, cons and outstanding questions policymakers should consider when deciding whether or not to establish such a plan?
  2. What is an appropriate size or structure for such a plan?
  3. What are some observations, insights or concerns that should be taken into account after finding similar models in other states?

ILASFAA Legislative Issues would love to hear your feedback on the blog!  Further, ISAC wants to hear from you on the questions outlined above.  Comments can be emailed to: ISAC.RPPASurveys@isac.illinois.gov prior to October 31, 2014 to ensure adequate time for consideration and necessary follow-up. The entire study is due December 1, 2014.

Springfield Visit Reminder

The Legislative Issues Committee is working now on marketing the Spring Springfield Visit.  We need your attendance at the 2015 event.  Can we count on your participation?  As we prepare, we would appreciate your feedback to the Blog to the following questions:

  1. During spring term, when would be a good time for a meet and greet?
  2. How much lead time would you need in order to confirm your attendance?
  3. How frequently do you interact with your legislative liaison on campus?

Looking forward to hearing from you!