Focus on the Future of Financial Aid: FSA Training and Spring Conferences
The first of many future changes to financial aid that were discussed at the annual Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference in December were recently rolled out with the December 23 launch of the NextGen site, studentaid.gov. If you missed the annual conference in Reno, you can still access presentations and recordings to learn about the new NextGen site and tools, and you can bet the conversation will continue into 2020 at state and regional association conferences this spring. You’ll see members of the ScholarNet team at many of these events as we speak with you there, learn more from our colleagues, and continue to be an important part of helping to simplify financial aid for students and families.
What You May Have Missed
There’s been a lot going on in higher education in the past year. In fact, a glance at Forbes’ The Year’s Top 10 Higher Education Stories reminds us how much happened in the last year. While many of those stories may have been cocktail hour chatter at the FSA Training Conference in December, sessions and presentations focused on upcoming changes facing financial aid users and professionals in 2020 and beyond. Here are some steps you can take to refresh your memory after the holidays (or catch up on what you missed).
View Session Recaps and Obtain Presentations
To decide which materials from the FSA Training Conference will be most useful for you to obtain, look first at descriptions of the conference general sessions, which range from federal updates to overviews of verification and application processing – in particular, changes to the FAFSA and updates to the web, mobile app, and processing system. You’ll also want to browse the list of breakout sessions and hands-on sessions to see which topics are most of interest to you so that you can download presentations from those sessions.
Catch Up on Conversation about the Future
While sessions focused on various timely topics related to policy changes, system updates and changes, and important trends such as distance learning and cybersecurity issues, one of the most highly attended sessions was a walkthrough of NextGen’s StudentAid.gov site and other coming attractions. Presentation notes for this session (#29) are available and provide an overview of FSA’s goals in creating NextGen. While FSA has also provided a YouTube video describing NextGen’s overarching goals, the FSA Training Conference delivered detail about what to expect next and provided opportunity for presentation and discussion about NextGen.
Check Out The Recent Website Launch
The first phase of NextGen was rolled out with the December 23, 2019 launch of StudentAid.gov. You’ll want to check it out, share the new website with your current and prospective students and families, and watch for the debut of new features and tools over the coming months. As you’ll learn from the session #29 presentation materials, other NextGen tools to be launched are an enhanced FSA ID single sign on to make website access easier for users; an easy-to-use customer dashboard; tools to help inform customers and provide financial literacy support; an aid summary that details loan and grant information for users; a loan simulator that allows customers to choose and simulate repayment strategies to fit their personal goals, and a pilot program that allows a group of customers to make a standard monthly payment online.
Learn More at Conferences Coming Up
State and regional conferences for financial aid administrators are slated to begin in late January and continue throughout spring. The current calendar of events is available at the NASFAA site. You can also check to see if any traveling members of the ScholarNet team will be at upcoming conferences by looking at upcoming events at the bottom of our homepage or searching our events calendar. Like you, we find it’s challenging to make it to all of these opportunities, but we enjoy attending events to network with colleagues and learn about what’s happening in financial aid – and we’ll attend many of them!
Let’s Talk Conferences: Really, Let’s Get Chatting
Did you attend the FSA Training Conference in Reno? What was the most valuable session you attended? Anything that surprised you? Are there any conference topics you feel should be covered that are missing? What are the events and changes coming in 2020 about which you’re most curious? Concerned?
If you read our post, ScholarNet By the Numbers: A Look Back at ScholarNet 2019, you’ll know that 2020 is the year we hope to get our readers chatting with each other rather than just reading what we provide. If you’ve got a few minutes and an opinion or observation to offer, just share with your peers by commenting here or posting on LinkedIn. We appreciate it – and your colleagues will, too.