By Betsy Prueter
A recent report from The National Association of Student Financial aid Administrators (NASFAA) argues that consumer information requirements for postsecondary institutions could be enhanced, streamlined or eliminated to limit regulatory burden on institutional officials. The report details 15 recommendations ranging from improving the Department of Education’s College Navigator to repealing the ban on the federal-level student unit record system.
Among the report’s other recommendations:
- Establish the College Navigator as the primary tool to disseminate information to students and parents, given that it already displays IPEDS data.
- Enhancing the navigator and allowing institutions to provide a link to prospective students and families would provide access to basic financial aid information, FERPA requirements, and details on cost of attendance, facilities and services for students with disabilities, retention rates, and graduation rates.
- Review disclosures such as the Campus Security Report, Fire Safety Report and the Fire Log, and the Drug and Alcohol Prevention Information to determine their usefulness and utility, particularly given that they are not related to Title IV.
- Eliminate all non-Title IV related requirements to avoid confusing students and families whose top priority is likely disclosures related to financial aid.
- Consider having the Department of Education and loan servicers be responsible for developing and distributing more timely loan-related consumer information.
- Consider revising the exclusive use of first-time/full-time degree or certificate-seeking students when calculating graduation and retention rates. A more nuanced calculation would better capture outcomes of transfer students, part-time students, and community college students.
- Mirror steps already taken for a “safe harbor” exit counseling to designate a loan ENTRANCE counseling safe harbor; meaning that an institution’s use of loan counseling automatically meets statutory requirements.
- Distinguish between undergraduate and graduate students in all consumer information.
- Develop and use a system, at the federal level, for consumer testing when implementing new consumer information requirements.