FSEOG, FWS Statutes Modified for Hurricane Disaster Relief

By Joan Berkes, NASFAA Policy & Federal Relations Staff

A bill to ease certain student aid rules for victims of the recent hurricanes has passed both chambers of Congress and awaits a presidential signature for enactment. The Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria Education Relief Act of 2017 includes the following provisions:

  • The institutional match for Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and federal work-study (FWS) is waived for award year 2016-17 and award year 2017-18, for any institution located in a presidentially-declared disaster or emergency area affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria, in either hurricane or tropical storm phase. Information will likely be needed from the Department of Education (ED) to determine the disposition of matching funds already contributed and disbursed for award year 2016-17. Presumably, funds carried forward from award year 2016-17 to award year 2017-18 would be encompassed by the waiver.
  • The institutional match for FSEOG and FWS may be waived at ED’s discretion, for an institution not located in an affected area, in which affected students enroll. Affected students are those who, on August 25, 2017, either were enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution located in an affected area, or are dependent students with a parent who resided in or was employed in an affected area. Affected students also include those who suffered direct economic hardship as a result of one of the storms. ED must consider the institution’s student population and resources in making its waiver decision.
  • The bill directs ED to reallocate released award year 2016-17 FSEOG and FWS funds to institutions that are located in an affected area or that enroll students affected by the storms. Institutions located in affected areas will receive priority. The form to release unused award year 2016-17 funds and to apply for award year 2017-18 supplemental funds (based on community service employment for FWS) was due in August. However, ED posted an Electronic Announcement on September 29 about that process in light of hurricane disaster relief. ED has reallocated supplemental FSEOG funds to schools directly affected by the 2017 hurricanes, and strongly encourages schools to award FSEOG funds to needy students who are directly affected by the hurricanes. ED is reviewing the reallocation process for FWS funds, and will provide additional information as soon as possible.
  • FSEOG and FWS funds that would normally expire on September 30, 2017, will remain available for expenditure for one extra year.

Publication Date: 10/2/2017
Used/reprinted with permission from NASFAA

NASFAA Hurricane Support

From: Justin Draegar, NASFAA President

August 29. On behalf of the NASFAA Board of Directors, the national chairs and I wanted to reach out to lend our support and thoughts with your state and region as our members contend with Hurricane Harvey. This morning I spoke with the Chief Operating Officer at Federal Student Aid about the situation and received a briefing about ED’s efforts to reach out to schools in the affected areas. Today, FSA activated its emergency response contact center to provide assistance and information to stakeholders impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Schools seeking information, resources, and relief from ED-based administrative requirements should contact ED toll free at 1-844-348-4082 or via email at HarveyRelief@ed.gov. ED has directed student loan servicers to give impacted borrowers flexibility in managing their loan payments in the wake of Harvey. Borrowers can receive more information by contacting their student loan servicer or calling 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) to find out their servicer’s contact information.
Tomorrow morning we’ll be running another article summarizing ED’s efforts and offering to help schools get in touch with ED’s disaster recovery team if they are running into trouble. Tonight, I will be reaching out to as many schools in the affected areas as we can identify to also let them know of these resources. I’m sure we will miss schools, so would appreciate you letting schools know that we are here to help.
Many members have asked if there is something they can do to help schools in east Texas. We’ve explained that as the rain continues to fall, it will likely take a few days for schools to fully assess their situations and have instead pointed them to general resources online about donations and how they can get involved in general hurricane recovery efforts. In the meantime, please let us know if there’s anything we can do to support your members.
Our thoughts are with you and your students –  
Justin Draeger
NASFAA President
August 29, 2017

S.B. No. 887 Signed by Governor Abbott

S.B. No. 887,  relating to a requirement that participating institutions under the student loan program administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board provide loan debt information to students, was signed by Gov. Abbott on Saturday, May 27. The Bill applies to schools enrolling students receiving financial aid funds which are administered by THECB.

Excerpts from Bill Analysis (C.S.S.B.887, Senate Research Center):

SECTION 1. Amends Subchapter C, Chapter 52, Education Code, by adding Section 52.335, as follows:

   Sec. 52.335. REQUIRED LOAN DEBT DISCLOSURE. (a) Provides that this section applies to a participating higher educational institution (IHE) that enrolls one or more students receiving state financial aid administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).

   (b) Requires a participating IHE to which this section applies that receives education loan information for a student enrolled in the IHE to, at least annually, provide that student certain information.

     (c) Provides that a participating IHE is required to include in the disclosure only education loan debt information regarding the student that the IHE receives or otherwise obtains from the United States Department of Education’s central database for student aid and may reasonably collect from its own records.

     (d) Requires that the disclosure required under this section identify certain types of education loans and include certain statements and explanations.

     (e) Provides that a participating IHE does not incur liability for any representation made under this section.

     (f) Requires THECB to adopt rules for the administration of this section.

   SECTION 2. Provides that Section 52.335, Education Code, as added by this Act, applies beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year.

   SECTION 3. Effective date: upon passage or September 1, 2017.

S.B. 887 (Bill) Full Text: Texas_85(R)-SB887_Bill-Text

S.B. 887 (Analysis) Full Text: Texas_85(R)-SB887_Analysis

TASFAA will publish more information and guidance on S.B. 887 as information from THECB becomes available.