ADDITIONAL REGULATORY FLEXIBILITIES RELATED TO CORONAVIRUS

ED’s Office of Postsecondary Education announced several deadline extensions because of COVID-19 including extensions to Campus Crime, Annual Security Reports, Annual Fire Safety Reports, Equity In Athletics Disclosures and the 20-21 FISAP.

The deadline to for institutions to distribute their Annual Security Reports and Annual Fire Safety Reports has been extended until December 31, 2020. Additionally, the annual crime and fire statistics survey will now be open from November 18, 2020 through January 14, 2021. If you need assistance with the survey, please call the Campus Safety Help Desk at 1-800-435-5985 or by email at campussafetyhelp@westat.com.

The deadline to for institutions to distribute their annual Equity in Athletics Disclosures in compliance with the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) disclosures to required recipients to December 31, 2020. Additionally, the online EADA Survey will now open from December 2, 2020 through January 28, 2021. If you need assistance with the survey, please contact the EADA Help Desk at 1-888-233-5421 or via email at eadahelp@westat.com.

The deadline to for institutions to submit the 2020-2021 FISAP has been extended to November 2, 2020. The December 15, 2020 deadline for submission of FISAP edit corrections and the Perkins Cash on Hand Update remains unchanged.

INCREASE IN PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT USE DUE TO COVID-19

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With unemployment insurance ending for millions of people this month, financial aid offices around the country have been inundated with requests for financial aid appeals. Earlier this year the Department released guidance encouraging financial aid administrators “use professional judgment to reflect more accurately the financial need of students and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A short while later ED removed references to GEN-0904 and GEN-0905 from the 20-21 FSA Handbook and indicated that the guidance in those Dear Colleague Letters has been archived for historical purposes only and is no longer considered active. For what it is worth…they issued some reassurance that they will not view increased use of professional judgment negatively or use it as a selection criteria for a program review.

COD IMPLEMENTS CARES ACT REPORTING AND WAIVERS FOR AID CANCELLATION

On August 2, 2020, the COD system was updated to support CARES Act reporting for students who qualify for a Title IV waiver because they withdrew due to COVID-19. The implementation of these changes will be rolled out in two phases. In the first phase, FSA implemented a new Coronavirus Indicator on COD and implemented new or modified COD Edits. A second phase is expected to come later in September which will include modifications to the Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculator on COD and new reports as well as an updated COD technical reference to support the new processes and file Edits.

For students whose withdrawals were related to COVID-19, Direct Loan Funds received for the period covered under the waiver will be cancelled. As a result, the loan period will be excluded from students’ Subsidized Loan usage used to calculate the 150% Subsidized Usage Loan Limits. Pell grants received for the period will also be excluded from a student’s Lifetime Eligibility limit under Pell LEU. Schools will use the new COD functions to report student information for any students they were not required to return funds for under the waiver.

Check out this announcement from FSA for more information about the new “Coronavirus Indicator” checkbox and COD system Edits that you will begin using to report that an affected student’s aid disbursement qualifies for these exceptions under the waiver.

FY 21 SEQUESTER-REQUIRED CHANGES TO THE TITLE IV STUDENT AID PROGRAMS

Beginning on October 1, 2020 origination fees on Direct Loans including Direct PLUS Loans, are changing. Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grants (IASG) and TEACH Grant awards are also changing. These changes will apply to all loans, IASG and TEACH Grants where a first disbursement is made on or after October 1, 2020, so be sure to update your financial aid system to account for them.

The origination fees have been changing every October 1st because of the Budget Control Act of 2011, known as the sequester law. For Federal Fiscal Year 21 (October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021):
The loan fee for Direct Subsidized Loans and for Direct Unsubsidized Loans is 1.057%. For example, the fee on a $5,500 loan will be $58.13.

The loan fee for Direct PLUS Loans (for both parent borrowers and graduate and professional student borrowers) is 4.228%. For example, the fee on a $10,000 PLUS Loan will be $422.80.

An Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grant where the first disbursement is on or after October 1, 2020 and before October 1, 2021 requires a reduction of 5.7 percent from the award amount for which the student would otherwise have been eligible.

A TEACH Grant where the first disbursement is on or after October 1, 2020 and before October 1, 2021 requires a reduction of 5.7 percent from the award amount for which the student would otherwise have been eligible.

For more information about the sequester changes see this electronic announcement from FSA.

REPORTING OWNERSHIP, CONTROL, CONTRACTS AND GIFTS FROM FOREIGN SOURCES

ED’s Office of General Counsel announced some major changes to institutions obligations under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act which requires institutions to disclose information about ownership and control by foreign sources, contracts with foreign sources, and gifts from foreign sources. Schools have historically reported this information on their E-App (Electronic Application) in question 71, however the Department announced that beginning on June 22, 2020 Section 117 information must be reported using the Department’s new reporting system available at https://partners.ed.gov/ForeignGifts.

Federal law requires most 2-year and 4-year postsecondary schools to report ownership or control by foreign sources and contracts with or gifts from the same foreign source that, alone or combined, have a value of $250,000 or more for a calendar year.

Generally, a school must report this information by January 31 or July 31 (whichever is sooner) after the date of receipt of the gift, date of the contract, or date of ownership or control. The January 31 report should cover the period July 1–December 31 of the previous year, and the July 31 report should cover January 1–June 30 of the same year.