News & Insights

The fall semester has unfolded in various ways and with varying degrees of success at campuses across the country as the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. Whether your students, faculty and staff were on campus, or studying or working remotely, the fall term has been a learning process for everyone.

Throughout the fall, we have worked with college and university financial aid offices to help with all of the changes -- from processing aid remotely and filling interim positions to providing guidance on the utilization of CARES Act funds and the impact of academic calendar changes. It's been rewarding to help our clients navigate the new challenges brought on by COVID-19.

As you head into your next academic term, remember that HEAG consultants are available to answer your questions and help with any unexpected issues that may arise. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance.

-The HEAG Team
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and COVID-19 Relief Measures
Back in March 2020 the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law providing many student loan borrowers with some much-needed relief by suspending both payments and interest charges. President Trump issued an executive order in August 2020 extending the suspension period through the end of the year. And then on December 4, it was extended once again until the end of January 2021, leaving it up the Biden administration on how to handle the situation from there. This was all great news for any borrowers with loans held by the Department of Education (ED), the only loans covered by the Act. There has been some understandable confusion about how the relief program affects participation in PSLF. Continue reading for a high level summary of the PSLF requirements.
Department of Education Resources for Creating Your Remote FASFA Session
At this time of year, high school seniors and their parents are starting their journey through the financial aid process. It's also the time of year when many financial aid administrators and college planning professionals plan in-person programs to assist families in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, this is 2020, so nothing is ‘normal.’ COVID-19 has made getting together in person difficult, if not impossible, depending on your state’s rules, and coming up with online programming on your own is challenging. If you need help planning a remote FASFA session, keep reading for a list of resources from the office of Federal Student Aid.
"Our university was between Student Financial Aid directors at the time that my program became eligible for Title IV student loans. SFA simply did not have the bandwidth or the knowledge of Title IV procedures and regulations that we needed. HEAG very efficiently surveyed the state of affairs with our eligibility, helped us navigate the process, kept us in compliance, and led us to an approval that prevented us from losing a critical recruitment season. They were also exceptionally helpful while getting to know them by providing me with references of past clients, who sang the praises of HEAG as loudly as I am doing now. They are wonderful people to work with, as well."

Stephen L. Forssell, Ph. D.
Founding Director, Graduate Program in LGBT Health Policy & Practice
The George Washington University
COVID-19: "Flexibilities for Interruption of Study
"Know Your Electronic Announcements!"

Over the past seven months you have seen important publications from the Department of Education using the words “flexibility,” and “interruptions of study.” These allow for a waiver of some rules or an extension of certain normal deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The key Electronic Announcements are dated March 5, April 3, May 15, June 16, July 9, July 10, and August 21. The IFAP and NASFAA websites have helpful links to important regulations regarding COVID-19. Keep reading for a recap of highlights from the Electronic Announcements, which include information about flexibilities related to academic calendars.
If you missed our October webinar When the Axis Shifts: Academic Calendar Changes and the Impact on Financial Aid, you can access the recording and find out what you need to know about changes to the academic calendar as it relates to your role in the financial aid office.
Consultant Spotlight
How long have you been with HEAG? 

Just under six months.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I married my high school sweetheart. We have two kids, ages 15 and 12, and live on a farm in Georgia. I have worked professionally in higher-ed for more than 20 years. I started in admissions before transitioning to financial aid.

What was your first job?

I worked as a cashier at Kroger.

What advice would you give to a school looking to bring in an FA consultant? 

Be open and understand that the consultant’s role is not to uncover and point out all the negatives but to enhance, improve and empower your financial aid department.

What is something few people know about you?

I am an animal lover. My family has chickens and we’re getting goats and a pig. One day I would love to have horses on our farm.

When you are not consulting what other hobbies/interests do you have?

I love to read and my children keep me busy at the softball and football fields.
Angela Harlow
What are some of the FA tasks you have performed and excelled at?

I have had some great opportunities to make improvements in financial aid offices. I turned customer service around in an environment that was not focused on providing students and prospective students with excellent service. For example, rather than having students see whoever was available in the FA office, I implemented a system where each student was assigned to a specific counselor so they would know who they were meeting with before they arrived at the office and had one point of contact for their questions. Not only did this improve customer service with existing students within six months, it also improved the process for students the college wanted to recruit. Both students and prospective students had a sense of security because they knew they had someone who would help them. In addition, I made it mandatory to follow-up on any questions a student or prospective student had with within 24 hours so that no one was sitting around and waiting for information they needed.

Another improvement I made was to develop in-depth processor training so there was no lag time if someone in the FA office was on vacation or out sick – someone else in the office had the necessary training to pick up where the absent staff member left off and ensure there was no delay in processing.

In one of my roles, I was part of a committee that brought together all student-engaging offices on campus so we could look at the big picture of recruiting and retaining students and develop a cohesive plan that involved all offices.

Finally, I went for a number of years with no finding in audits for my financial aid office.

What do you enjoy most about your current role with HEAG?

I love the fact that I’m helping schools and their students. Before I was an FA consultant, my favorite day of the year was the first day of school and my next favorite day was graduation. The students have the same emotions on both days – they are both excited and nervous and there is a lot of energy on campus. For me, knowing I helped students achieve one of their greatest goals was a great feeling. While I do miss this, it’s very rewarding to help financial aid offices solve problems and show them how they can resolve the challenges they face. Working for HEAG as an FA consultant gives me the same feeling I had when I worked in the FA office – I’m still helping; I’m just doing it from the other side of desk.

What makes HEAG unique or special compared to your work experiences elsewhere? 

HEAG’s number one priority is helping their clients. They want every college and university to be successful and they go the extra distance to ensure they are doing everything they can to help schools deal with the challenges they are facing.
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