Education Department shifts with financial aid changes

Thursday - 2/17/2011, 11:23am EST

Jay Hurt, CFO, Federal Student Financial Aid at the Department of Education

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By Olivia Branco
Federal News Radio

As more and more people head back to school with the current struggling economy, Jay Hurt and the Department of Education's Federal Student Financial Aid office have been busy.

Hurt, the Chief Financial Officer, joined Tom Temin on The Federal Drive live from the Association of Government Accountants National Leadership Conference and discussed his role within the agency and what they accomplish.

"In the past few years, we've had significant changes mostly driven by the credit market seizure that occurred in 2008," Hurt said. "In our programs alone, we've had to go out purchasing loads to stabilize the credit markets. We are now the sole originator of federal student loans. We had a guarantee program that the portfolio is still out there but the origination is not there anymore."

The shift has required Hurt and his office to change the way they do business and what they need to do.

"Operations for a loan guaranteed program are very different from operations on a direct loan program. So we've had to basically move our operations much more to contract or oversight to direct loan, to very specific operations as opposed to compliant monitoring of the loan guarantees."

So just exactly how much money does Hurt's office have in the market?

"As of this past fiscal year, we've had $744 billion in loan principal outstanding," Hurt said. "It's one of the largest in the federal government and it's growing at about 17 percent a year or more. I think in the recent economic times, we've seen more because of the fact of people going back to school right now."

But with all of that money and responsibility, in addition to the changes over the last few years, there are certainly things Hurt would like his office to work on.

"We've had two significant deficiencies we continue to work on. One is IT security. As we shift to direct loan, we have to very careful with Privacy Act data. We also have to worry about the credit reform subsidy estimates, the way you calculate and account for cost we've had some deficiencies as well."

Additional information about the conference can be found here.