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MOST FREQUENTLY CITED PROGRAM REVIEW FINDINGS

A financial aid consultant can help your college identify risks and prevent program review findings

What are the most frequently reported program review findings according to ED?

ED recently released an updated program review guide packed with lot’s of great info to help schools and colleges understand the in’s and out’s of a program review. The new guide covers everything from general program review processes to procedures and guidelines for following up. According to the guide, these are the most frequently cited program review findings. 

These are the top ten most frequently cited program review findings at colleges and universities.

  • Crime Awareness Requirements Not Met
  • Verification Violations
  • Return to Title IV Calculation Errors
  • Student Credit Balance Deficiencies
  • Drug Abuse Prevention Requirements Not Met
  • Student Status – Inaccurate/Untimely Reporting
  • Entrance/Exit Counseling Deficiencies
  • Consumer Information Requirements Not Met
  • SAP Policy Not Adequately Developed and/or Monitored
  • Inaccurate Record keeping

How does your institution assess it’s risk and preparedness for audits and program reviews?

To learn more about how your institution can adjust its processes and reporting to minimize its risk of these federal student aid compliance issues, please contact us.


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WHO IS CONSIDERED A STUDENT FOR HEERF EMERGECY FINANCIAL AID GRANT PURPOSES

According to a May 14, 2021, Federal Register notice, The Education Department expanded the definition of who is an eligible “student” for the purposes of making Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Programs. This rule is effective as of May 14, 2021, and you may need to adjust your HEERF awarding procedures accordingly.

The final regulations define “student,” for purposes of the phrases “grants to students,” “emergency financial aid grants to students,” and “financial aid grants to students” as used in the HEERF programs, as any individual who is or was enrolled (as defined in 34 CFR 668.2) at an eligible institution of higher education (IHE as defined in 34 CFR 600.2) on or after March 13, 2020, the date of declaration of the national emergency concerning the novel coronavirus disease. This definition enables an IHE to appropriately determine which individuals currently or previously enrolled at an institution are eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants to students under the HEERF programs, as originally enacted under the CARES Act and continued through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) (Pub. L. 116-260) and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) (Pub. L. 117-2).

FCC DOL AND HHS MAY USE FAFSA DATA UNDER NEW FLEXIBILITIES

 

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has designated the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as entities that may use FAFSA data to aid in the administration of pandemic related benefits administered through each respective agency.

  • The FCC designation will allow Pell eligible students to access Emergency Broadband Benefits. For background information and guidance on the EBB Program, see the FCC’s EBB Program Website: https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit
  • The DOL designation will allow students who are unable to work due to the pandemic to access Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
  • The HHS designation allows ED to communicate with students about the availability of Health Insurance on the Federal Marketplace and a Special Enrollment Period that runs through August 15, 2021.

For more information about these designations and the relief programs available to students, please read this electronic announcement from Federal Student Aid.

NO CHANGE TO ORIGINATION FEES THIS YEAR DESPITE SEQUESTER

This year Financial Aid Directors around the country are quietly rejoicing because Fiscal Year 2022 is the first year in over a decade that they will not have to worry about updating their Direct Loan Origination fees in the middle of their processing year. The origination fees have been changing every October 1st because of the Budget Control Act of 2011, known as the sequester law and frankly it is a real pain in the “you-know-what”.  But not this year! So, rejoice friends, your fall disbursements will go smoothly.

For Federal Fiscal Year 22 (October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022) the sequester required changes are the same as they were for FFY 21, so there is no change.

Beginning on October 1, 2021, origination fees on Direct Loans including Direct PLUS Loans, as well as the Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grants (IASG) and TEACH Grant awards are as follows:

  • 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, 2021, and before October 1, 2022, 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, 2021, and before October 1, 2022, 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 see this electronic announcement from FSA.

INFLATION DRIVES STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES UP

NEW INTEREST RATES

Inflation is here and interest rates are going up for new Federal Direct Student Loans beginning on July 1, 2021.

Interest rates for Direct Loans are based on a formula whereby the rates are indexed to the 10-Year Treasury Note plus an “add-on” percentage. This year’s auction of the 10-year Treasury note resulted in a “high yield” of 1.684%, a huge decrease over last year’s high yield of 0.700% and a sign that inflation is on the rise. As a result, borrowers with new loans for the 2021-2022 award year will be paying much more in finance charges over the life of their loan. While interest rates are rising, it is important to remember that even these rates are still near historic lows and in general it is still a good time to borrow to take advantage of these low rates. You can read all about it here in a recent electronic announcement from FSA. Do not forget to update your borrower communications and consumer information!

Interest Rates for Direct Loans First Disbursed Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

Undergraduate Students

Direct Subsidized Loan                   3.73%

Direct Unsubsidized Loans           3.73%

Direct PLUS Loans                            6.28%

Graduate & Professional Students

Direct Unsubsidized Loans           5.28%

Direct PLUS Loans                            6.28%

The maximum interest rates are 8.25% for Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans made to undergraduate students, 9.50% for Direct Unsubsidized Loans made to graduate and professional students, and 10.50% for Direct PLUS Loans made to parents of dependent undergraduate students or to graduate or professional students.

SUMMARY-LEVEL RETURN OF TITLE IV (R2T4) REPORTING FUNCTIONALITY

Following a system update completed on April 25, 2021, FSA announced that the R2T4 Lump Sum Reporting page is now available on the COD website. Schools can now use this page to report summary-level totals of Title IV funds that were not returned due to the CARES Act.

The deadline for reporting funds not returned under R2T4 requirements due to CARES Act relief, is September 30, 2021. Schools can report these funds using the R2T4 calculator or now through the R2T4 Lump Sum Reporting page.

For more details about the functionality, refer to the March 10th announcement.