Latest News

FSA TO DELAY DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS FOR FEDERAL PERKINS LOAN PROGRAM

At last year’s Federal Student Aid Conference, Department officials announced that institutions were not required to return the federal share of their Perkins Loan Fund because the Department was still exploring ways to reimburse institutions for their Federal Perkins Loan Service Cancellations. In a recent announcement FSA stated that institutions should not remove the institutional share from their Perkins Loan Fund and return it to their institution either.

FSA is instructing institutions to forgo reporting repayment of any federal share or institutional share in its next Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP) due October 1, 2019. The amounts in both the “Repayment of Fund capital to federal government” in Part III, Section A, Line 28 and “Distribution of excess/liquid fund capital” in Part III, Section A, line 30.2 should be the same amounts as the institution reported on the FISAP submitted by October 1, 2018. Note: Institutions that have already returned the federal share of their Perkins Fund to the Department and removed their institutional share from the Perkins Fund for the 2018–19 Award Year should report these repayments on the FISAP.

FSA ID ENHANCEMENTS FOR NEXT GEN FINANCIAL SERVICES ENVIRONMENT

Last month the Department made additional enhancements to the FSA ID. The enhancements were made as part of the Next Generation (Next Gen) Financial Services Environment FSA has been implementing. The FSA ID is used by students, parents and borrowers to access websites like FAFSA.gov, StudentLoans.gov, NSLDS Student Access, StudentAid.gov, and the myStudentAid mobile app. The FSA ID is also required for access to the Application for Borrower Defense to Loan Repayment and the Federal Student Aid Feedback System.

According to a recent electronic announcement from FSA, the following enhancements were made on May 19th.

Require verified email address or mobile phone number. New FSA ID users will be required to provide either a verified email address or mobile phone number when creating an FSA ID account. Existing FSA ID users who do not already have a verified email address or mobile phone number will be prompted to provide one when logging in for the first time after implementation of this change. This enhancement ensures FSA ID users can manage their account more effectively and helps us stay in contact with FSA ID users as needed. As a reminder, a verified email address or mobile phone number can be used to log in, reset a password, retrieve a username, or unlock an FSA ID account.

Replace Create-Your-Own Challenge Questions with Pick-From-List Challenge Questions. FSA ID users must answer four challenge questions when creating an FSA ID account. The answers to the challenge questions may be required to verify the user’s identity and are an important security feature. Currently, FSA ID users select two challenge questions from a list of questions and create two challenge questions on their own. To streamline the process for users, we will remove the create-your-own option. Users will select all four required challenge questions from a list.

Add Editable Summary Page to the Create Account Process. Users will have the option to edit the summary information that is presented at the end of the process to create an FSA ID. If a user identifies an error, he or she may edit and save the information directly on the summary page, rather than having to go back to correct the information on a prior page.

IS YOUR PASSWORD ABOUT TO EXPIRE?

If you’re a “professional user” accessing Federal Student Aid Systems like COD, eCDR Appeals, FAA Access to CPS, NSLDS Professional Access or your school’s SAIG or Edconnect software, you already know that if you haven’t logged in for a while your access may have been disabled or deactivated. Beginning on June 16, 2019 Federal Student Aid will begin tracking the number of days a user is inactive in each of their systems. If a user doesn’t log into any particular system for 90 days, their access to that system will be deactivated. For example, if you’re a regular user of COD, NSLDS and FAA Access to CPS online, but rarely log in to FAA Access to CPS, only FAA Access to CPS will be deactivated if you don’t log in at least once every 90 days. If you get locked out, you’ll have to call the Access and Identity Management System (AIMS) customer service center listed for that system to have your access restored.

If you haven’t logged in for a year, your access will be permanently deactivated after 365 days of inactivity and you’ll have to have your institution’s Primary Destination Point Administrator re-enroll you. If you happen to be the Primary DPA and you somehow let your access lapse for that long…you’ll have to jump through some hoops to get access restored. But don’t worry…FSA has a new report especially for you. It’s a Monthly User Status Report. You can get it right through your Edconnect SAIG Mailbox, just look for the PDPAEAOP file. This monthly report will help you keep track of users at your school who are in danger of losing access. CHeck out this electronic announcement from Federal Student Aid for info.

2019 GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT TEMPLATE AND GE COMPLIANCE DEADLINES

The 2019 Gainful Employment Disclosure Template was released recently. Schools, colleges and universities with Gainful Employment programs are required under current law to provide information about their gainful employment programs on their website. According to an electronic announcement from Federal Student Aid, the 2019 GE Template is a simple MS Word document that school users can simply fill in and then post on the website for each respective GE program. Seems simple. Additionally, there are several new data elements that must be disclosed including:

  • Normal time to complete the program
  • Total program costs if completing the program within normal time (including tuition and fees plus books, supplies, and equipment; excluding room, board, or other expenses)
  • Median cumulative debt for Title IV students completing the program within normal time (including Federal, private, and institutional debt)
  • Licensure information for the program’s target occupation
  • URL for the College Scorecard
  • Warning language if required under 34 CFR 668.410.

Speaking of warning language, FSA notes that under the GE regulations, institutions must provide warnings for programs that could become ineligible for Title IV aid based on the next round of final D/E rates. Loss of eligibility results after receiving overall “fail” ratings in any two (2) out of three (3) consecutive award years for which rates are calculated or after receiving a combination of “fail” and “zone” ratings for four (4) consecutive award years for which rates were calculated. Warning requirements are suspended for programs with an alternate earnings appeal currently under consideration. Following the first year of D/E rates, warnings are required for programs with an overall “fail” rating for their 2014-2015 rates without a pending earnings appeal. Following the withdrawal or rejection of a program’s appeal, an institution has 30 days to revise its GE Disclosures to include the warning.

Although the Department of Education recently completed Negotiated Rulemaking and is expected to rescind these rules, institutions are required to comply with these requirements by July 1, 2019.

Beginning on July 1, 2019 institutions must be sure their templates are updated and that all promotional materials are updated with accurate and current GE disclosure info.  Additionally, institutions must begin providing a copy of the GE disclosures to prospective students before they commit to enrolling, registering or making a financial commitment to the institution. Schools have some leeway in determining how to provide these disclosures to prospective students.

FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES FALL FOR NEW LOANS

NEW INTEREST RATES TAKE EFFECT ON JULY 1, 2019

Interest rates are going down for new Federal Direct Student Loans beginning on July 1, 2019.

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 2.479%, an increase over last year’s high yield of 2.995%. As a result, borrowers with new loans for the 2019-2020 award year will be paying more in finance charges over the life of their loan. You can read all about it here in a recent electronic announcement from FSA. Don’t forget to update your borrower communications and consumer information!

Interest Rates for Direct Loans First Disbursed Between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020

Undergraduate Students

Direct Subsidized Loan                   4.53%

Direct Unsubsidized Loans           4.53%

Direct PLUS Loans                            7.08%

Graduate & Professional Students

Direct Unsubsidized Loans           6.08%

Direct PLUS Loans                            7.08%

For each loan type, the calculated interest rate may not exceed a maximum rate specified in the HEA. 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.

CORRECTING HISTORICAL PROGRAM-LEVEL ENROLLMENT DATA IN NSLDS

In mid-July 2019, NSLDS will calculate the data metrics for earnings and debt by field of study using data reported/updated by institutions as of July 10, 2019. They’re asking institutions to ensure the accuracy of previously reported program-level enrollment data that was reported to NSLDS on or after July 1, 2014.

To assist institutions with evaluating and updating previously reported data, Federal Student Aid has provided several resources that institutions can use. Here are the key details from a recent electronic announcement.

We have enabled new functionality in NSLDS to update previously reported data. Information about using the new functionality will be provided in the “How to Correct Historical Enrollment Reporting in NSLDS” webinar, offered on June 11, 2019. To register for the webinar, refer to Dear Colleague Letter ANN-19-02.

Additional guidance on the new functionality will be provided in the forthcoming NSLDS Newsletter 64, which will be posted to the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website in the next several days. Monitor the NSLDS Reference Materials section of the IFAP website for the availability of this information.

An update to the November 2018 version of the NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Guide will provide information on program-level enrollment reporting and guidance on how to use NSLDS for updating previously reported data. Monitor the IFAP website for an announcement of the availability of the updated guide.

The College Scorecard Data web page includes a data file with information on cumulative loan debt for borrowers by field of study based on what was previously reported to NSLDS. We encourage institutions to compare the preliminary NSLDS program-level borrower counts using the NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Graduated Programs Report (SCHEP4) described in NSLDS Newsletter 62 and loan debt values on the College Scorecard data web page with their internal records to evaluate the accuracy of previously reported data. In addition, this preliminary College Scorecard data file provides corresponding data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) completion survey. To the extent that credentials conferred should generally be reported consistently in IPEDS and NSLDS, we encourage institutions to use the IPEDS data as a comparison in evaluating the accuracy of previously reported NSLDS program-level enrollment data.

Preliminary analysis of enrollment data suggests that, in the aggregate, program-level enrollment records for non-borrowers (e.g., Pell-only students) and students in certificate programs are less complete. In updating previously reported data, we encourage institutions to pay particular attention to records of students who fall into these categories. While the preliminary loan debt data file provided on the College Scorecard data web page excludes non-borrowers, we encourage institutions to ensure that all records are complete for all Title IV students because those students will be included in post-enrollment earnings calculations.” (Source IFAP)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RELEASES EXPANDED COLLEGE SCORECARD

I remember when the College Scorecard was first released. The most striking thing about the scorecard wasn’t the just the data it provided about institutions, but rather the data it didn’t. First off, it excluded thousands of institutions, particularly for-profit colleges and schools with primarily non-degree certificate programs. Graduation data for non-first-time and non-full-time students weren’t included either, since the Scorecard then, only looked at first-time-full-time students, and the only information available on student debt was an institutional, not programmatic.

Following an executive order signed by President Trump last year, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released an expanded College Scorecard last month. According to an ED press release, “the tool now includes information on 2,100 additional postsecondary education options”. To be clear, that’s 2100 institutions that are now being included in search options for students, parents and others to aid them in making informed choices about the schools and programs they are interested in attending.

In addition to the inclusion of these schools, the new College Scorecard includes information about graduation rates for non-first-time and non-full-time students, and the percentage of students who transferred or were still enrolled in school. Cost, graduation rates, student demographics and other data will now be updated at multiple times each year instead of once annually; making use of the data institutions report three times a year to the IPEDS data system.

The expanded College Scorecard data also includes information on student loan debt, broken down by field of study. According to the Press Release, Secretary DeVos had this to say; “For years, the College Scorecard provided undergraduate loan debt information at only the institution-level even though the amount borrowed to attend school can vary substantially depending on which program the borrower is enrolled.”

As of today, the information in the expanded scorecard is only preliminary data. The U.S. Department of Education decided to release this data while asking institutions to update their historical enrollment data from which these loan debt metrics are derived. Later this fall, the Scorecard will be updated to include any adjustments institutions submit this summer. The deadline for such corrections is July 10, 2019

Get your 2019-2020 IRS Tax Return and Transcript Matrix for FAFSA Verification

2019-2020 TAX TRANSCRIPT MATRIX

We’ve updated the IRS Tax Return and Transcript Matrix that Financial Aid Professionals use to complete FAFSA verification. Although the U.S. Department of Education announced earlier this year that institutions may accept a signed copy of an individual’s tax return for verification this year, some students and families may still submit an official IRS Tax Return Transcript to your office for verification. It’s helpful to know which line items from the tax return, the tax transcript, and the FAFSA and ISIR correspond. Click the link below to download a copy for yourself.

2019-2020 IRS Tax Return And Transcript Matrix For FAFSA Verification 072019

 

DRAFT 2020-2021 FISAP MATERIALS RELEASED

Federal Student Aid recently released draft versions of the 2020-2021 FISAP, accompanying instructions and updated Technical Reference to help schools prepare for the upcoming FISAP due on October 1, 2019. Although the final documents won’t be published until August 2019, schools can use these draft documents to begin preparing the information needed in October. For more information check out the recent electronic announcement from FSA here.

Changes to the FISAP

In addition to award year and date references, the following FISAP fields have been updated and/or added:

Part I, Section A, Field 5

Two new data fields have been added to Field 5 to include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS) amounts allocated to each additional eligible institution for the 2018–19 reporting year.

Part III, Section B, Fields 1–8

Fields 1–8 have been updated to no longer allow for data entry on new loans due to the expiration of the authority to award new Federal Perkins Loans (Perkins Loans).

Part III, Section B, Fields 12 & 13

Fields 12 and 13 have been added to collect data on permissible servicing costs and cancellation reimbursement, if applicable, respectively.

Part VI, Section A, Fields 1a–26a & 1b–26b

Federal Perkins Loan Recipients (column a) and amount of funds (column b) fields have been updated to no longer allow for data entry due to the expiration of the authority to award new Perkins Loans.

Changes to FISAP Instructions

In addition to updates to the annual award year, date references, acronyms, and hyperlinks, the following changes have been made to the FISAP Instructions:

All

Updates have been made throughout the instructions to address the expiration of the authority to award new Perkins Loans and all impacted fields that will no longer allow for data entry as a result.

Introduction to the FISAP

The due date for the FISAP has been updated to Monday, October 1, 2019, and the correction deadline has been updated to December 13, 2019. Clarification has been added on the requirements around reporting for additional eligible institutions on a single FISAP (Part I, field 5).

Part I, Identifying Information, Certification and Warning

Clarification has been added about FISAP signature submission requirements. Instructions have been added for new data fields required in Part I, Section A, field 5 when reporting for additional eligible institutions.

Part III, Section B

Clarification has been added on the loan assignment process for cases of total and permanent disability. Instructions have been added for the new Fields 12 and 13, to report servicing costs and loan cancellation reimbursements received.

Parts IV & V

Removed paragraphs about reporting prior year recoveries on the FISAP, so as not to repeat or conflict with guidance provided in Volume 5 of the Federal Student Aid Handbook.

Parts VI, Section B

Clarification has been added around claiming and reporting administrative cost allowance (ACA).

2019-2020 FINAL FUNDING AUTHORIZATIONS FOR THE CAMPUS-BASED PROGRAMS

The Final Authorizations for the 2019-2020 Campus-Based programs have been posted to the Department’s COD website (not eCB anymore). Awards for each Campus-Based program in which a school participates is reflected in the school’s 2019-2020 Statement of Account.

Each institution that applied for funds under the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), and/or Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) programs for the 2019-2020 Award Year receives a tentative funding level which is based on a Base Guarantee and a Fair Share Increase. However, if the amount of unexpended 2017-2018 funds exceeds 10% of the institution’s 2017-2018 allocation and no waiver for that unexpended amount was approved, the allocation is reduced by the unexpended amount. The final funding worksheets posted on the COD website will show the information that was used in the calculation of each school’s 2019-2020 Campus-Based allocations.

The total 2019-2020 federal funds available for allocation to schools under the FWS, FSEOG, and Perkins Loan programs are as follows:

Program           Total Federal Funds Available for Allocation to Schools

FWS                  $1,130,000,000

FSEOG              $840,000,000

For more information about the 2019-2020 Final Funding Authorizations read the Department’s Electronic Announcement Here.