Rebecca Sanchez, the second of two candidates in the search to find a Director of Financial Aid for Cal State Fullerton, offered insight on current and future problems within financial aid in an open forum Monday.
Sanchez first spoke about the change in the Federal Perkins Loan, a low-interest rate loan program. Currently, undergraduates and students working on their teaching credentials receive up to $5,500 per year, and graduate students receive up to $8,000. However, changes implemented in the loan will result in a one-third loss of what students normally receive in their aid.
The altered federal loan concerned Sanchez because it is unclear how many students are affected.
“I think we need to understand how many students are going to be affected by the wind down, determine how many students will be eligible to be grandfathered in for the subsequent years, figure out what the average financial need and financial aid offer is in order to address this issue,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said the amount being offered to students from a Perkins Loan has a big impact, and “can really change the direction whether they can continue, persist to graduation or whether they are going to have to find other resources.”
She then spoke about the “prior-prior” plan, which she described as the “biggest thing in the financial aid world right now.”
Instead of students using the previous tax year for Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) applications, the prior-prior plan will use tax information over the past two years.
The current policy results in many estimations on FAFSA for students and many verifications for the financial aid office, Sanchez said. The new policy “enables families to use already filed tax information, and provides our families with more accurate financial aid offers,” she said.
However, the problem is timing, Sanchez said.
“President Obama did an executive action, which means he signed a piece of paper, but there is no policy out there,”
Decisions regarding the “prior-prior policy” are difficult to make because the policy is still in development, Sanchez said.
Sanchez will be attending the Federal Student Aid Conference in Las Vegas in December and hopes to have more concrete information regarding the policy then.
“We should be setting goals and benchmarks to ensure that prior-prior is ready by October 16th (2016),” Sanchez said.
Sanchez also spoke of an idea being tossed around by Congress, called “One Loan/One Grant.” Congress is pitching this as “a more simplified type of aid for our families,” but it could reduce financial aid for students in need, she said, adding that it could eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, federal work study and virtually all campus-based aid programs.
In order to prevent this from happening, Sanchez said it is important to stand up as advocates.
“I think it’s important for us to speak back to our leaders and make sure we are holding them accountable for the positions we have held them in,” she said.