NASFAA Supports Bipartisan FAFSA Act and Permanent MSI Funding in FUTURE Act

WASHINGTON (PRWEB) December 05, 2019

The Senate today unanimously passed an amended version of the House-passed Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act that would provide $255 million in permanent, annual mandatory funding to Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and simplify the financial aid application, verification, and student loan repayment processes for millions of students.

The bill, which includes language from the Faster Access to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Act of 2018 (S. 3611) passed by the Senate last year, was spearheaded by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). The bill would allow for direct data sharing between the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Education, simplifying the financial aid application and loan repayment processes and in turn generating $2.8 billion in savings over 10 years to provide permanent funding to MSIs.

The bill amends both the Internal Revenue Code and the Higher Education Act to keep applicant information more secure by allowing for the direct importing of IRS tax data to the FAFSA. Direct data sharing would also streamline enrollment in and renewal of income-driven repayment (IDR) plans for borrowers by removing the need for students to self-certify their income to prove eligibility for federal IDR plans. This safeguards the integrity of the federal student aid programs without creating overly burdensome bureaucratic barriers for students who rely on these programs. The bill also takes meaningful steps to reduce verification burden, a process that remains overly complex, disproportionately affects low-income students, and is burdensome for students and aid administrators.

“Allowing the IRS to share applicant data directly with ED will simplify the financial aid application, verification, and student loan repayment processes for millions of students and borrowers,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “The FUTURE Act provides a two-for-one deal by guaranteeing critically important permanent, annual funding for Minority-Serving Institutions that serve large numbers of low-income, first-generation college students. These are the sort of reasonable, bipartisan solutions students and families need from Washington, D.C., and we applaud these senators for their commitment to removing barriers to postsecondary education. The financial aid community urges House leadership to take swift action on this bill.”

For more information on the data-sharing provisions included in the bill, see NASFAA’s FAFSA Act issue brief. NASFAA policy experts are available to speak more about FAFSA simplification and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. To set up an interview, please email news@nasfaa.org or call (202) 785-6954.

About NASFAA

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 28,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit http://www.nasfaa.org.

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Episcopal Relief & Development Provides Emergency Assistance After Severe Flooding in Ghana

NEW YORK (PRWEB) December 05, 2019

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization (ADDRO) after severe flooding in northern Ghana earlier this fall.

In September and October of 2019, the Upper East Region of Ghana and most of northern Ghana experienced torrential rains, causing the Bagre Dam to overflow. Widespread flooding impacted farmland and homes, displacing over 26,000 people and destroying their livelihoods. Approximately 6,000 houses were partially damaged or destroyed. In addition, the standing water has exposed women and children to health risks such as malaria and other waterborne illnesses.

With the support of Episcopal Relief & Development, ADDRO, the relief and development arm of the Anglican Diocese of Tamale in northern Ghana, is building on their networks of health volunteers and other community relationships to provide critical relief kits for impacted families. These kits include rice, maize, beans, cooking oil, salt, soap, mattresses and mosquito nets. ADDRO is working closely with government agencies to avoid duplication of assistance so that the most vulnerable are reached.

“Many of the impacted families are participants in ADDRO and Episcopal Relief & Development’s early childhood development program,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Program Officer, Disaster Response and Risk Reduction for Episcopal Relief & Development. “These existing relationships helped us to quickly identify where help was most needed. We remain committed to supporting these communities as they begin to rebuild.”

Please pray for all the individuals and families affected by the flooding. To learn more about Episcopal Relief & Development’s disaster risk reduction work, visit http://www.episcopalrelief.org/disaster-risk-reduction.

ABOUT EPISCOPAL RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT:

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

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Family in Washington state awarded National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year for Habitat Restoration Efforts

WASHINGTON (PRWEB) December 05, 2019

Today, the American Tree Farm System awarded the New family of Bellingham, Washington the National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year honor from among more than 70,000 certified Tree Farmers nationwide, thanks to their efforts to restore a portion of a critical watershed to help a threatened species in their state.

“The New family embody what it means to make a positive conservation impact on our forests,” said Tom Martin, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, the nonprofit conservation organization that oversees the American Tree Farm System. “Owning and caring for forestland in today’s age is not an easy task. A lack of resources, cumbersome processes and the rising costs of forest management are all significant barriers that can keep landowners from active forest management. Yet, the New family took on these challenges and were able to restore an important piece of habitat for the threatened salmon species. It was an incredible task, and we commend them for their passion and dedication to conservation.”

The New family, David and Dar New, and their daughter’s family, Jennifer and Jeff Parker and their sons, are owners of the Nourse Family Tree Farm in Bellingham, Washington. The 165-acre property has been in Dar’s family for three generations.

The New family began their stewardship journey with no formal forestry background or extensive financial resources, yet they knew they wanted to care for the land sustainably. Diving in head first, they hired a forester to help them write a forest management plan, took landowner education classes and spent nearly all their weekends at their property. Their hard work paid off. In 2015, the News were certified by the Washington state Tree Farm Program.

One fall, the News noticed a run of Coho salmon that had become stranded in a field. During the 1950s, one of the tributaries on the property had been ditched to create pastureland. Over time, the lower section silted in, causing the flow to disappear into the grass. Heavy rain had caused the run of salmon to end up in the field.

Being natives of the Pacific Northwest, the News were familiar with the heritage of the salmon species. Factors like habitat loss, fragmentation and development have put stress on the species, causing it to be listed as threatened or endangered in nearly three-fourths of Washington state.

The New family decided they wanted to restore the stream, knowing they would need to overcome costs, time and expertise to complete the work.

The News sought out resources to assist them, reaching out to their local conservation district. When at first they did not receive a response, they persisted, following up for almost two years before they formally began working together.

With the Snohomish Conservation District (SCD), David leveraged his engineering background to design the channel through the pasture field. The SCD helped the News apply for a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) easement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect the area along the stream from development and harvesting, in return giving the News an annual rental fee to help cover forest management costs.

The channel was constructed in August 2016, followed by the planting of 3,000 trees along the 30 acres of stream bank to help prevent erosion and filter and clean the water. The SCD, Washington Conservation Corps crews, community volunteers, and school groups helped to complete the work.

Today, the News are able to walk the stream and watch the salmon navigate through the channel successfully. To help encourage other landowners to take on similar conservation projects, David and Dar have hosted university extension forestry events, tours, and schools and community groups to see their Tree Farm.

Across the U.S., family forest owners like the News care for the largest portion, more than one-third, of America’s forests. Their efforts are crucial to the sustainability of our country’s natural resources, such as clean water, wildlife habitat, carbon storage and a wood supply for the products Americans use every day.

The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) is an internationally-recognized education and certification program designed specifically for family forest owners. The program provides enrolled landowners with tools, community and support to keep their forests healthy. Enrolled Tree Farmers, in return, care for their land, meeting rigorous Standards of Sustainability. Collectively, there are nearly 19 million forested acres within the ATFS program nationwide.

To be considered for the Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award, individuals must exhibit exceptional forest stewardship to protect and improve our forest resources, and must promote forest stewardship within their communities.

The New family was selected from among this year’s Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Years, which also included from the South: Stan and Suzanne Wood of Bremen, Alabama; from the Northeast: Bill and Tina Buckel of Bittinger, Maryland; and from the North Central: Mike Trail of Columbia, Missouri.

About the American Forest Foundation and American Tree Farm System:

The American Forest Foundation (AFF), a forest conservation organization, works on the ground with families, partners and elected officials to promote stewardship and keep our forests healthy. America’s family forests are vital for producing clean water and air, wildlife habitat and sustainable wood supplies. AFF’s signature program, the American Tree Farm System® is the country’s largest sustainable woodland program with a network of more than 70,000 family forest owners managing nearly 19 million acres of forestland.

Read the full story at https://www.prweb.com/releases/family_in_washington_state_awarded_national_outstanding_tree_farmers_of_the_year_for_habitat_restoration_efforts/prweb16768289.htm