MSFAA News

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  • Thursday, April 27, 2017 7:46 AM | Angela Sarah (Administrator)

    Posted Date: April 25, 2017

    Author: Jeff Baker, Director, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid

    Subject: Update on Changes to the Listing of Colleges on ISIRs Provided to State Grant Agencies

    On June 8, 2016 we posted an Electronic Announcement stating that, beginning with 2018-2019 FAFSAs, ISIRs provided to state grant agencies will include the colleges listed on students’ FAFSAs in a random order and not in the order in which the student listed the colleges.

    This Electronic Announcement informs the community that we will not be making this change and ISIRs sent to state grant agencies will continue to present the colleges in the order they were listed by the student on the FAFSA. Note that we continue to not include the listing of colleges on ISIRs provided to postsecondary institutions.

    We thank the community for their input and patience on this matter.


  • Monday, April 24, 2017 11:45 AM | Leighanne Denja (Administrator)

    https://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN1704.html

    Publication Date: April 24, 2017

    DCL ID:  GEN-17-04

    Subject: Changes to 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 Verification Requirements

    Summary: This letter provides information about changes we are making to certain aspects of the FAFSA® verification requirements as a result of the recent suspension of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

    Dear Colleague:

    In response to concerns about the impact of the suspension of the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) on students and families who have been selected for verification of their Free Application for Federal Student Aid/Institutional Student Information Record (FAFSA/ISIR) information, we are providing institutions with flexibilities they may choose to use as part of their verification procedures.  These flexibilities begin immediately and apply to both the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 FAFSA processing and verification cycles.  This guidance replaces the guidance provided in the October 18, 2016, Electronic Announcement on alternative documentation for verifying 2015 income and tax information for the 2016-2017 FAFSA, and serves as the 2017-2018 guidance on alternative documentation that the October 18, 2016, Electronic Announcement stated would be provided at a later date.  Because of the move to “prior-prior,” both of these FAFSA years use the same 2015 income and tax year information.

    IRS Tax Return Filers – In lieu of using the IRS DRT, or obtaining an IRS transcript, institutions may consider a signed paper copy of the 2015 IRS tax return that was used by the tax filer for submission to the IRS as acceptable documentation to verify FAFSA/ISIR tax return information.

    Verification of Nonfiling – Institutions are no longer required to collect documentation obtained from the IRS or other tax authorities verifying that the applicant, the applicant’s spouse or the applicant’s parents did not file a 2015 tax return (often referred to as Verification of Nonfiling).  However, as currently required, the applicant, the applicant’s spouse or the applicant’s parents, as applicable, must provide to the institution—

    • A signed statement certifying that the individual has not filed and is not required to file a 2015 income tax return, and a listing of the sources of any 2015 income earned by the individual from work and the amount of income from each source; and

    • A copy of IRS Form W–2, or an equivalent document, for each source of 2015 employment income received by the individual.

    Additional Documentation Requirements – Some individuals may be required to submit additional documentation to verify their 2015 income and tax information.  That information as well as all other verification requirements can be found—

    For the 2016-2017 award year

    For the 2017-2018 award year

    We hope these flexibilities will provide some relief to students and families affected by the suspension of the IRS DRT.  We thank institutions for their understanding and patience.

    Sincerely,

    Lynn B. Mahaffie
    Acting Assistant Secretary
    for Postsecondary Education



  • Friday, April 21, 2017 3:06 PM | Angela Sarah (Administrator)

    Dear MSFAA member,

    MASFAA recently sent out a Call To Action encouraging all members to reach out to their Congressional delegation to let them know the impact of the suspension of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is having on both students and your institution.

    This is a joint effort between MASFAA and SASFAA to put pressure on the Department of Education to provide relief to students and institutions as well as the IRS to securely bring the (DRT) back up as soon as possible. This letter has also been approved by NASFAA so we are speaking with one voice. Your voice does make a difference and the collective voice of our entire association will not go unnoticed.

    Attached is an excel spreadsheet of every state’s representative to Congress with a link to their home page along with a copy of the NASFAA-approved template. You can also find your representative at thomas.loc.gov. Most representatives have a web form on their web site to send them a message where you can copy and paste the letter into the web form.

    We hope that you will consider letting your voice be heard and reach out to leaders in your respective districts.

    Thank you

    MSFAA Legislative Issues Committee


    Attachments:

  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017 2:28 PM | Angela Sarah (Administrator)

    Authored by http://www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid




    MI Student Aid is ecstatic to announce that we now have our very own theme song!

    In an effort to increase awareness of college financial aid resources, MI Student Aid’s very own artist and representative, Charles “JustRozier” Rozier, put together a hip-hop track promoting MI Student Aid as the go-to source for student financial aid in the state of Michigan.

    Taking full advantage of the new song, MI Student Aid teamed up with Waverly High School in Lansing, MI to film a music video! The music video, which includes the senior class of 2017, shows JustRozier and students getting pumped up about the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary education.

    The music video, which premiered on March 10 at Waverly High School, is also available on the MI Student Aid Website at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and on our social media pages.

    Our hope is that students will be inspired to take the necessary actions to pursue a post-secondary credential in a financially sound manner.

    Support this initiative by sharing the video on your social media with all of your family, friends, students, and more!


  • Friday, April 07, 2017 2:53 PM | Angela Sarah (Administrator)

    Submitted by: Dan Dreves, Director of School Partnerships, FATV

    Are you concerned that your students are not reading their SAP emails? With just a little effort, you may be able to increase how many students read and comprehend this content.

    Here are some suggestions to enhance your communications to these students to change outcomes:

    1. Create a subject line they’ll read.  Don’t bore your students with too many details. Be succinct. Add a deadline. Make it look less like bulk email by personalizing it with their name if possible. Create a sense of urgency to make them want to read more.  

    EXAMPLES:  

    • Jenny, you are on Financial Aid Warning!
    • Complete your SAP appeal by 6/30
    • Read more to find out why you are disqualified from financial aid

    2.  Keep it short. No one likes to get unsolicited emails, particularly if they have bad news. Cut to the chase. Explain explicitly why this student is not eligible, not all the reasons or possibilities. This may mean creating more email templates so that students who have reached their maximum timeframe don’t also receive content about the GPA minimum standard.  

    3.  Add a video. Students love multimedia. Add videos or infographics that explain a part of the content. An image or video can increase content while decreasing the amount of text.

    4.  Clearly state an action plan. Outline their next steps. If a disqualification notice, add the steps to complete an appeal. When sending a Financial Aid Warning notice, encourage them to access your student success resources to get back on track.

    5.  Show you care. Trust is key to how people receive information, especially in stressful situations. To establish trust quickly, show you care. Let them know your team and/or your school cares about their educational success.

    EXAMPLE:  

    • Centennial University is committed to your academic success and wants to help you realize your potential.
    • The Financial Aid Office at Centennial University believes in you.  Let us know how we can help you reach your educational goal.
  • Saturday, April 01, 2017 9:50 PM | Angela Sarah (Administrator)

    On Tuesday, March 28th, 13 MSFAA members attended an Advocacy Day event in Lansing. Advocacy Day was a joint effort of three associations (MSFAA, MACAC, and MACRAO). The day’s agenda consisted of presentations from State officials on how to advocate, panel presentations from our sector associations, and individual state association meetings.  

    NASFAA’s Assistant Director of Federal Relations, Stephen Payne, was able to lead us in discussion on advocating at the Federal level and he provided updates of what is currently happening in DC. After a delicious lunch with legislators, some attendees spent their afternoon at individual appointments with state representatives. 

    Sarah Krueger and Taryn Colangelo from University of Michigan - Ann Arbor met with Senator Rebekah Warren's office during the event. They expressed support of Governor Snyder's budget proposal since it included such great support for Financial Aid. During the conversation with Senator Warren's staff, the topic of Michigan Work Study came up which allowed Sarah and Taryn the opportunity to support bringing that program back. It was a very successful visit and great experience for both Sarah and Taryn. 

    The event was a huge success! A copy of a one-page handout on Michigan Financial Aid was provided at the event. The handout, along with MSFAA President Kelly Schneider’s speech is attached to this announcement. 

    Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of Advocacy Day and to Katherine Allen from UM-Dearborn for coordinating this joint effort between associations.

    MSFAA Legislative Issues Committee


    Files:

    President Kelly's Schneider's Speech Text

    Hand-out


  • Thursday, March 30, 2017 3:40 PM | Will Shaffner

     

    https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/update-internal-revenue-service-irs-and-federal-student-aid-fsa-statement-irs-data-retrieval-tool-drt

    Update: Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Student Aid (FSA) Statement on IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)

    Privacy Concerns Force Tool to Remain Offline; Students, Parents and Borrowers Should Use Other Options to Provide Financial Data on Applications

    March 30, 2017

    Contact:   Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov

    To protect sensitive taxpayer data, the IRS and FSA announced today the Data Retrieval Tool on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov will be unavailable until extra security protections can be added. While we are working to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, students and families should plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season.

    Since the tool was disabled in early March due to security concerns, the IRS has been working closely with FSA to safely return the tool to service. "We know this tool is an easy way for students and families working on applications to access their financial data," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "While this tool provides an important convenience for applicants, we cannot risk the safety of taxpayer data. Protecting taxpayer data has to be the highest priority, and we will continue working with FSA to bring this tool back in a safe and secure manner.

    "We have heard from students, parents, and the financial aid community that applying for aid is harder without the DRT," said James W. Runcie, Federal Student Aid chief operating officer. "We will do all we can to help students and families successfully submit applications while the tool is unavailable and remain committed to protecting applicants' personal information."

    Options Remain Available for Students, Parents and Borrowers

    While the Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable, FSA and the IRS remind applicants that online applications are still available and are operable.

    The income information needed to complete the FAFSA and apply for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan can be found on a previously filed tax return.

    Students and parents completing a 2016–17 and 2017–18 FAFSA should manually enter 2015 tax information (not 2016). Borrowers applying for an IDR plan should submit alternative documentation of income to their federal loan servicers after they complete and submit the online IDR application. The process for submitting the alternative documentation of income is explained to borrowers as part of the online IDR application. While the Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable, a borrower may submit a paper copy of his or her tax return, copies of pay stubs or other acceptable forms of documentation explained online during the application process

    If a copy of the tax return is not readily available, the applicant may be able to access the tax software used to prepare the return or contact their tax preparer to obtain a copy.

    If necessary, a summary of a previously filed tax return, called a tax transcript, may be viewed and downloaded from www.irs.gov/transcript at Get Transcript Online, with the proper identity verification. Additionally, Get Transcript by Mail can be accessed online, or the taxpayer can call 1-800-908-9946, and a transcript will be delivered to the address of record within five to 10 days.

    IRS Takes Additional Steps to Protect Taxpayers

    The IRS is working to identify the number of taxpayers affected by questionable use of the Data Retrieval Tool. Identity thieves may have used personal information obtained outside the tax system to access the FAFSA form in an attempt to secure tax information through the DRT. The IRS continues to review the extent to which this contributed to fraudulently filed tax returns. The IRS has identified instances where our strengthened fraud reviews stopped questionable tax returns by filers who also accessed the DRT.

    As the IRS identifies taxpayers with personal information at risk through misuse of the data tool, it is marking and locking down those taxpayer accounts to provide additional protection against an identity thief filing a fraudulent tax return. As an internal review continues, the IRS also is finalizing plans to notify affected taxpayers by mail about possible identity theft concerns. The scope of affected taxpayers is still being determined.

    Additional information for applicants:

    The online FAFSA and IDR application remain operational. You can continue filing the FAFSA or applying for an IDR plan as you normally would.
    For more information on or for help with:

    Information from the IRS, visit IRS Offers Help to Students, Families to Get Tax Information for Student Financial Aid Applications

  • Monday, March 06, 2017 1:17 PM | Leighanne Denja (Administrator)

    Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s 2018 Budget Proposal was announced on February 8, 2017.  Highlights of the Governor’s Budget Recommendations as they relate to Michigan Financial Aid Programs are summarized below:

    1.    A total of $11 million in new funding is provided to increase the Michigan Competitive Scholarship and the Michigan Tuition Grant programs. This brings total funding for the programs to $64.4 million, an increase of 21 percent. The additional funding will increase the maximum per-student annual awards to $1,000 for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship and $2,000 for the Michigan Tuition Grant. The awards are projected to support a combined 46,000 students in fiscal year 2018.
    2.    The Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) budget includes a total of $58.3 million, an increase of $5.3 million. The program is projected to support 18,500 students in fiscal year 2018. Beginning in fiscal year 2019, the governor recommends capping TIP reimbursements at public universities to double the average community college in-district tuition rate in an effort to reduce the disparities of award amounts across colleges and universities.
    3.    Funding for a pilot of the Independent Part-Time Student Grants programs is recommended at $2 million. This program targets part-time adult students at community colleges who have completed at least 15 credit hours of postsecondary coursework and are near completion of a degree or other credential. The pilot will measure student success outcomes at each participating community college.

    MSFAA Legislative Committee will provide updated budget information as it is received.


  • Thursday, February 09, 2017 10:54 AM | Leighanne Denja (Administrator)

    Greeting MSFAA!

    I just wanted to take a few minutes and welcome you as a 2017 MSFAA member! If you are new here, we are glad to have you and look forward to getting to know you over the next year. If you are a returning member, we are happy to have you back with us for another great year.

    MSFAA has a very exciting year ahead! Most notably, our association will turn 50 years old in December of 2017 and we will celebrate our golden anniversary next January at our winter conference at The Henry in Dearborn. This is a huge milestone for MSFAA. It offers us a chance to reflect on our history as an association, the history of federal student aid in this country and to celebrate all of our accomplishments and leaders along the way.

    To support the Conference Program and Conference Site Committees in the planning of the 50th Anniversary Celebration I have added a special 50th Anniversary Task Force to the Executive Board this year. Our task force is co-chaired by Diane Fleming, a retiree and MSFAA past-president, and by Stephanie Petsch, a long time board member, of Eastern Michigan University. They will be recruiting MSFAA members to join their committee over the next few months and I encourage you to reach out to them if you are interested in planning the 50th Anniversary celebration. It’s going to be a fun event and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the task force comes up with and celebrating with all of you next year.

    Please mark your calendars for the MSFAA Summer Conference as well! You might notice the dates are a bit earlier this year. This was by design! The NASFAA Conference is scheduled for late June and we wanted offices to be able to staff accordingly to take advantage of all the great financial aid trainings this summer. We will gather June 11-14 at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire and hope to see you there. Please consider submitting a session proposal to our Conference Program Committee for consideration. Sharing the best practices of our members at MSFAA conferences is what it’s all about!

    Also, look for updates on our Leaders of Tomorrow participants this year. These future leaders have applied to the program to enhance their skills and develop their own leadership style. MSFAA is investing in them this year and we are excited to see their progress.

    Lastly, if you are interested in getting involved in MSFAA, please reach out to us. Our Membership co-chairs, Sarah Krueger and Candace Henry-Shroeder, would be happy to talk to you about the many opportunities there are to get involved.

    If you ever want to chat, please feel free to email me at kschne15@emich.edu. I’m always happy to hear from MSFAA members.

    Think spring!

    Kelly Schneider

    2017 MSFAA President


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