New Head of Federal Student Aid Announced

June 21, 2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Tuesday that she will appoint A. Wayne Johnson, a financial services executive, to oversee the government's $1.4 trillion student loan portfolio as the next chief of federal student aid.

James Runcie, the previous chief operating officer of FSA, resigned abruptly in May after refusing an order to give congressional testimony. Runcie had also said in emails leaked to the press that he disagreed with the direction of the department under DeVos.

Although he comes from the private sector, Johnson is familiar with student financial aid issues. He holds a doctorate in academic leadership from Mercer University, where he authored a dissertation on private student loan indebtedness.

In 2012, he founded a company specializing in private student loan refinance, where he is still listed as CEO.

“Wayne is the right person to modernize FSA for the 21st century,” DeVos said in a statement. “He actually wrote the book on student loan debt and will bring a unique combination of CEO-level operating skills and an in-depth understanding of the needs and issues associated with student loan borrowers and their families. He will be a tremendous asset to the department as we move forward with a focus on how best to serve students and protect taxpayers.”

The department said in a release that DeVos will charge Johnson with carrying out her vision to "simplify and modernize the federal student aid process."

Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate education committee, said Johnson's experience will be an asset to the Office of Federal Student Aid.

“I look forward to working with Dr. Johnson to ensure that the office is putting the best interests of students and taxpayers first and operating efficiently to carry out critical tasks -- including getting the data retrieval tool quickly back online for the 20 million families who apply for federal financial aid for college every year, as well as efficiently implementing year-round Pell," Alexander said in a statement.

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