studentaid

Obama budget calls for changes to education tax benefits

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President Obama will seek to make a tuition tax credit permanent and exempt student loan debt forgiveness from taxation.

Undocumented Students Eligible for Aid in Washington State

A new law has made Washington State the fifth state where students who lack the legal documentation to live permanently in the United States are eligible for state student aid, Reuters reported. Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said that the law would help "thousands of bright, talented and very hard working students across the state of Washington."

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GOP tax plan would combine tuition tax breaks, end popular deductions for colleges

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House Republicans' vision for tax reform would consolidate tuition tax breaks into a single, more refundable credit -- but end benefits for student borrowers, repeal deduction for those who purchase football tickets, and tax the cherished tuition remission for college employees.

Sallie Mae Splits In Two, Names New Loan Servicing Unit 'Navient'

     

Sallie Mae’s loan servicing operations will soon be housed in a separate business entity called Navient, the company announced Tuesday.

As it first disclosed last year, Sallie Mae--formally known as SLM Corp.-- is in the process of splitting up into two distinct companies: Navient and Sallie Mae.  

Navient, starting this fall, will service most of Sallie Mae’ existing private student loan portfolio and also assume responsibility for Sallie Mae’s contract with the U.S. Department of Education to manage the payments of federal student loan borrowers.

The company’s consumer banking business will continue under the name Sallie Mae and will originate new private student loans and service those loans.

Sallie Mae is the largest servicer of the federal government’s portfolio of direct student loans, with some 5.7 million accounts.

The Education Department also issued guidance Tuesday about the changes, which will begin to affect borrowers this fall. The department described the impact on federal student loan borrowers as “minimal.”

Federal borrowers whose accounts are currently managed by Sallie Mae will be able to contact Navient at the same phone numbers and mailing address, but they will need to log on to their accounts at a new website. In addition, borrowers will have to write checks using the new name and change any online bill paying services. A borrower who has set up automatic debiting from a bank, however, no action will be required, the department said.

Sallie Mae said in a statement that those borrowers would receive this spring and summer “personalized information about their account and any changes needed to ensure a smooth transition.”

The company’s split comes as its student loan servicing practices have come under scrutiny from federal regulators, several members of Congress and consumer advocates. Sallie Mae is facing multiple inquiries over how it applied the loan payments of military servicemembers, who are entitled to special borrower benefits.

Sallie Mae has disclosed to investors that it set aside $70 million, as of the end of 2013, to cover the “expected compliance remediation” relating to those inquiries.

Consumer advocates, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democrat, have also complained that the Education Department is too lax in its oversight of how Sallie Mae services federal loans.

A group of state attorneys general, led by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, are also probing the company’s debt collection, loan servicing and other practices. 

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Audit urges Education Department to tighten distance education regulations

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The U.S. Education Department must do more to prevent financial aid fraud in distance education, a federal audit says.

Proposed Free Sophomore Year for Maine Students

Several states are considering plans to make community college free. In Maine, Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has a different idea: He has proposed making the sophomore year free for Maine residents at all University of Maine campuses, The Bangor Daily News reported. The idea is to change patterns in the sophomore year, when many drop out, and when many families' savings run out. The plan would cost the state $15.1 million a year.

 

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Sallie Mae Faces Multiple Investigations

SLM (better known as Sallie Mae) is facing increasingly broad investigations from state and federal agencies, The Wall Street Journal reported. Illinois, under Attorney General Lisa Madigan, is leading several states in examining Sallie Mae's debt collection and loan servicing.

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Harvard Receives $150 Million Gift

Harvard University has received a $150 million gift from an alumnus, Kenneth Griffin. Most of the funds will support undergraduate financial aid.

 

Education Department kicks off negotiations for rules on student aid

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Education Department kicks off months-long negotiating process to hammer out new rules on PLUS loans, state authorization, and campus debit cards, among other issues. 

Clark U. Drops Need-Blind Admissions

Clark University, in Massachusetts, has dropped need-blind admissions, in which applicants are admitted regardless of their ability to pay, MassLive.com reported. Going ahead, the university will become "need-aware" at the end of its admissions process, meaning that once the financial aid budget has been spent, applicants who can afford to pay will be admitted. Officials said that they remained committed to admitting low-income students, but that the need-blind policy had forced Clark to make cuts in other parts of its budget, and was no longer sustainable.

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