The approval of Year Round Pell Grants came as a surprise to many and software vendors are clamoring for ED to provide technical specs to accommodate the changes in processing it will require. According to an electronic announcement, the Department is working on tech specs and will be providing them later this year. The Department said that it will be updating COD during October 13-15, 2017 to allow schools to submit Pell Grant Records in excess of 100 percent of a Pell Grant Scheduled Award. Until then, schools can report summer 2017 and Fall 2017 disbursements for the 2017-2018 Award Year. Until COD is updated, these awards and disbursements will be limited to 100% of the Pell Grant Scheduled Award. After October 15, 2017 schools will be able to report updated information to indicate that a student is eligible to receive up to 150% of his or her Pell Grant Scheduled Award, and make award and disbursement adjustments as needed.
At the 2016 FSA Training Conference for Financial Aid Professionals the Department previewed FSA’s Integrated Partner Management System Solution, a new web-based platform that will be implemented later this year. IPM will integrate several stand-alone systems including the e-App and eZ-Audit, and create new processes for submitting documents electronically instead of by email or paper.
- Eligibility and Enrollment – Submit a new or updated eligibility application. Establish, reestablish, maintain or expand institutional eligibility, ECAR, PPA, OPA
- Program Review Processes – Comply with requests for information and documentation for a program review; program review final determination letters,
- Compliance and Financial Statement Audit Submissions – Submit compliance audits and financial statements audit
- Heightened Cash Monitoring Submissions – Submit reimbursement requests for funds subject to heightened cash monitoring
- Appeals, Waivers and Exemptions – Cohort Default Rate, Gainful Employment, Campus Based Waivers, Exemptions
In general, information stored and available in IPM:
- Data collected and maintained by Program Compliance
- Reviewed/approved partner information submitted in an IPM data field
- Participation information and statuses (composite score, waivers, program reviews, etc.)
- Documents uploaded to or generated in IPM (ECAR, PPA, etc.)
- Pending and completed activities
- Important dates (approval, execution, renewal, expiration, etc.)
Each year Federal Student Aid updates the XML schema used in Common Records exchanged between schools and the Common Origination and Disbursement System. Beginning in March 2017, the new XML Schema version will replace the current one and if your system isn’t up to date, you won’t be able to submit originations and disbursements. The new XML version is 4.0c. The major Financial Aid software vendors have been updating their Common Record files to comply with the 2017 Common Record XML Schema. If you haven’t done so already, please be sure that your Financial Aid Management Software is updated to conform to the new file schema. Schools that don’t update ahead of FSA’s March 1st implementation risk being unable to transmit origination, disbursement and other records to COD.
Since December 2016, COD has been returning Warning Edit 211 on batches that do not meet the 2017 file specifications, so if you’ve been receiving files with this warning, it’s a good chance you need to update. Beginning in March 2017 with the implementation of the new schema, the warning edit will no longer be returned. Instead, the Common Record batch will be rejected altogether at the batch level with COD Reject Edit 210, and the records included in the batch will not be processed. COD notes that in limited circumstances, minor XML errors will return a reject 211 until March 24th to help institutions identify outstanding problems with their COD XML Schema. If you need more info, click here http://bit.ly/2lqB8QR and here http://bit.ly/2lcmvp3
In order to meet new federal security requirements, updates were recently made to the login functionality for the EDconnect software, the Department of Education’s Student Aid Internet Gateway which is used to transmit important files between schools and the various ED offices like CPS, COD and NSLDS. Institutions using old windows operating systems such as Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows Server 2003, have been encountering compatibility issues with the most recent updates to EDconnect. As a result of the change, EDconnect users with the following unsupported operating systems can no longer log in to EDconnect to access the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG):
Windows XP (Microsoft extended support ended April 8, 2014)
Windows Server 2003 (Microsoft extended support ended January 13, 2015)
ED recommends that Windows XP users upgrade to Windows 7, and Windows Server 2003 users upgrade to Windows Server 2008 or 2012. These OS upgrades should be completed as soon as possible, to avoid continued compatibility issues.
Additionally, EDconnect users should be aware that Microsoft support for the Windows Vista OS will end on April 11, 2017. Users of this OS should plan to upgrade to Windows 7 before this date to avoid future compatibility issues when trying to connect to the SAIG using the EDconnect software.