News: Archived Blogs (2017 and older)

NCAN Meets with Secretary DeVos

Friday, December 22, 2017  
Posted by: Kim Cook, Executive Director
Share |

One of NCAN’s primary goals is to make the voice of our members heard at all levels. I recently had the opportunity to take your thoughts to the top, so to speak. NCAN was invited, and invited to bring along two members, to a meet-and-greet with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference in Orlando, FL.

We were joined by NCAN Director of Technical Assistance MorraLee Keller as well as Laurie Meggesin, executive director of the Florida College Access Network, and Maria Carvalho, director of high school and postsecondary operations at The College Crusade of Rhode Island and winner of NCAN’s 2017 College Access Practitioner Award of Excellence.

NCAN’s MorraLee Keller and Kim Cook, Florida College Access Network’s Laurie Meggesin, and College Crusade of Rhode Island’s Maria Carvalho met with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the FSA Training Conference.

DeVos and Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer A. Wayne Johnson made headlines at the conference by announcing that the FAFSA will be available on a mobile app starting in spring 2018. NCAN and our members have long advocated for a simpler FAFSA that will move the needle on college completion – for our lowest-income students especially – and we assured DeVos that a mobile aid application will help achieve that end.

“Part of what we hear from our partners around the state is that the FAFSA form is intimidating and overly complicated for students and families,” Meggesin (pictured below) said. “Simplifying the FAFSA form and making it available through a mobile app to utilize the technology that our students are most accustomed to today will help more students access the financial aid they need to attend college.”

Keller drove home the need for further simplification, pointing out that we need to "stop asking poor kids to prove over and over again that they are poor."

Carvalho also took the opportunity to thank DeVos for supporting the restoration of year-round Pell Grants.

"As a native Rhode Islander, the Pell Grant holds special meaning, as the late Claiborne Pell also hails from the Ocean State,” Carvalho said. “The Pell Grant makes it possible for the students we serve at the College Crusade to attend college who might not otherwise have the means. For many, it is the deciding factor on whether or not they can afford to attend college.”

Leaders from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators also attended the meeting, and explained the wide-reaching impact of the months-long IRS Data Retrieval Tool outage that began in March.

We appreciate the opportunity to share our perspectives with DeVos and are pleased to see FSA taking steps in a direction that’s helpful for the students our members serve.