News: College Access & Success

Takeaways From NCAN's 2019 Advisors Learning Community

Friday, October 18, 2019  
Posted by: Jamese Carrell, Member Services Associate
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The Advisors Learning Community at NCAN's 2019 National Conference in Indianapolis was jam-packed with enthusiastic professionals who were ready to learn and network within the field. We had 111 individuals check in at the session, but we easily had 200 people in the room. Wow!

The session kicked off with MorraLee Keller, NCAN's director of technical assistance, and me sharing our backgrounds and then allowing space for those in the room to network with one another. Next, MorraLee shared some important FAFSA updates.

For those who weren’t able to attend, here are a few of the key FAFSA changes we discussed:

  • For the 2020-21 cycle, the question order on the website will more closely align with question order on myStudentAid mobile app.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will be able to transfer the same information as in years past, and the tool is now mobile-optimized.
  • Elimination of the 1040A/EZ form resulted in the removal of a corresponding question on the FAFSA. On the 2020-21 FAFSA, that question has been replaced with: “Did (or will) you file a Schedule 1 with your 2018 tax return”? If you don’t know what the Schedule 1 is, click here to learn more. This question also becomes part of the definition for auto-zero EFC or Simplified Needs Test.

Earlier this month, the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) hosted a webinar on updates to the 2020-21 FAFSA, and the recording will be available in a few weeks. We highly encourage you to check out the FSA webinar page to access the recording and learn about all of the changes in detail. In the meantime, here’s a PDF copy of the webinar slides.

Another great resource we want to make you aware of is the FSA partner email list. These periodic emails include updates about FSA products and services, reminders about upcoming professional development opportunities, tips for outreach to students, and more. If you assist students with completing the FAFSA, you should sign up to receive these emails.

And to keep with the theme of updates and exciting new items, these membership updates should also be on your radar:

  • Still not getting NCAN emails, Success Digest (our weekly newsletter), e-learning access, etc.? Create an NCAN account so that you can participate in all that NCAN membership has to offer. If you have issues creating an account, contact Tong Lee at
  • If you’re looking to actively engage with NCAN and advise the college access and success field, please fill out the Advisory Task Force interest form. Individuals who show interest will be contacted by email about next steps.
  • Do you have member news that you’d like to share? Email your exciting news to (Here are the submission guidelines.) This helps us recognize the amazing work your organization is doing and is also a chance to advertise any open staff positions.
  • Speaking of open positions, we now have a Career Board. This new website feature allows members to post job openings that will reach a broader audience. We want to know what positions you are hiring for!

You can access the 2019 Advisors Learning Community presentation here. We hope that you find this recap helpful, especially for members who weren’t able to physically attend the conference.It's through this blog that we wanted to share some of the wealth of knowledge that comes out of the NCAN conference.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (Jamese Carrell, member services associate) at We hope to see you at next year’s Advisors Learning Community in New Orleans!