Extended foster care payments are generally not reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Likewise, the payments are not included as Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA).
Extended foster care payments are payments made directly to students who have not yet reached the age of 21. This extension of foster care payments beyond the traditional foster care payments made to foster parents, group homes, etc. while a child is below the age of 18 was enacted into law in 2008 with the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 11—351). This law amended Title IV – E of the Social Security Act. The law change allows individuals receiving the benefit of foster care to continue receiving such benefit beyond age 18 up to the age of 21. However, the individual does have to meet certain criteria such as being either enrolled in high school, postsecondary education or vocational school, a job training program, or working at least 80 hours per month. Each State may have additional criteria applicable to this provision.
The distinguishing factor of whether the extended foster care payments are included on the FAFSA or not is whet
As reported in this week's FAME Inside Report, and prior August 1 FAME "Did You Know?," Congress had finally reached agreement on the student loan interest rate debate. Congress passed the Senate-amended version of the House Bill, HR 1911, on July 31 which creates a new interest rate structure that lowers all 2013-2014 undergraduate Direct Loans to 3.86%. All that remained was for President Obama to sign the bill.
Friday, August 9, 2013, the president signed the Senate-amended HR1911 (now known as the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act) into law. The new student loan interest rate structure discussed previously in the FAME Inside Report and "Did You Know?" is now in effect. (No
This news flash is making the headlines across the country. After months of political back and forth, both houses of Congress have come to a resolution on the student loan interest rate debate. Late yesterday the House passed the Senate-amended version of House Bill, HR 1911. It now awaits the president's signature, which is anticipated to happen without delay. The new interest rate structure will be applied retroactively to all Federal Direct Loans with a first disbursement on or after July 1, 2013.
The current version of the bill awaiting signature of the president puts the interest rate structure to be set using the following formulas:
Undergraduate Stafford loans (subsidized and unsubsidized): 10-year Treasury Note plus 2.05 percent, capped at 8.25 percent.
Graduate Stafford loans: 10-year Treasury Note plus 3.6 percent, capped at 9.5 percent
PLUS loans (graduate and parent): 10-year Treasury Note plus 4.6 percent, capped at 10.5 percent.
There have been recent additions to two separate ED publications. The first is a new volume, “The Direct Loan Program”, being added to the Blue Book. This release is volume 8 of the newly updated Blue Book (2013 edition). As noted in FAME’s April 2013 Inside Report, the 2013 volumes released this year provide the first updates to the Blue Book since 2005. Although typically the Blue Book is geared to those individuals responsible for managing, accounting for, and reporting on the use of Title IV funds at an institution (e.g. fiscal office personnel), this volume will be of interest to anyone wanting to have a more comprehensive knowledge of the Direct Loan (DL) program. This volume covers the whole gamut of the DL program, from loan limits, the Master Promissory Note, and required counseling, to disbursements and reconciliation. It gives ample opportunity in the material covered to either learn of the DL program initially, or to receive a refresher on items that a particular staff member may not work with on a daily basis, but would like to know more about.
The Website has Q&As applicable to each of the 10 major components of the Program Integrity regulations. The Q&A Website is available at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2009/integrity-qa.html. The Q&As are a helpful tool to use to stay abreast of ED’s latest guidance related to the various topics of the Program Integrity regulations.
One of the most recent updates to the Website is in the section related to verification. The Q&As are divided into various topics. So that each subject’s Q&As are easily referenced, they have topic designators that lead the Q&A number. For example, “Introductory Verification Questions” have the Q&A numbers preceded with “IVR”; “Verification Items” have the Q&A numbers p
This rate is the same rate as is applicable to the Direct Unsubsidized Loans. This increase was long-anticipated as it is the way that the law was originally written that authorized this change. The current interest rate structure that resulted in the temporary 3.4% rate was authorized on September 27, 2007 as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA). Before this law was enacted, all Direct Loans—Subsidized and Unsubsidized—were at the 6.8% interest rate. The CCRAA allowed for the gradual, but temporary, decrease in the Subsidized Direct Loan interest rate over the succeeding years until it eventually reached the 3.4% rate that was applicable in the 2011-2012 award year. As of July 1, 2012, the interest rate on the Subsidized Direct Loans was to return to the prior rate of 6.8% as written in the CCRAA back in 2007. Congress, of course, delayed that increase a year ago to extend the 3.4% interest rate applicable to Subsidized Direct Loans until June 30, 2013. This resulted in the automatic increase back to the former 6.8% rate on July 1, 2013 as there was no change to what the law required.
The question has been raised as to whether there will yet be any chan
Schools that participate in the Title IV financial aid programs are required to make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to their students. This requirement is applicable to schools in most states and the District of Columbia which are covered under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993.
That is, schools in states that require voter registration prior to Election Day or that do not allow for voter registration at the time of voting must comply with this requirement that is delineated in your Title IV Program Participation Agreement. Currently, the only states exempt from this requirement are Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Likewise, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa are not covered by the NVRA and thus are not required to distribute the voter registration forms.
Schools in all states required t
The 150% limit on Direct Subsidized Loans is in effect now, as of July 1, 2013. All first-time borrowers on or after July1, 2013 are subject to the new provisions. The requirements associated with this new provision also stipulate additional requirements of schools, including enhanced entrance counseling. See below for more of the details.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) states that, generally, a first-time borrower is one that did not have an outstanding balance of principal or interest on a Direct Loan (or on an older FFEL Program Loan) as of July 1, 2013. The provision, which is authorized by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), was enacted almost a year ago on July 6, 2012. The law states that a first-time borrower’s eligibility for a Direct Subsidized Loan may not exceed 150% of the length of the borrower’s educational program. The borrower’s educational program is defined as the eligible program that the student is enrolled in, and for which he or she is applying for a Direct Subsidized Loan. In addition, MAP-21 will, in certain circumstances, result i
ED has released another volume of the 2013-2014 Federal Student Aid Handbook. This release is “Volume 5 – Withdrawals and the Return of Title IV Funds”. The annual volume is a useful resource for guidance with the myriad questions that arise from student withdrawals and leaves of absence (LOAs), etc. For example, this year’s edition includes text that addresses what a school must do if a student remains only enrolled in non-Title IV eligible courses. Also, guidance is provided that a student’s SAR/ISIR with a comment code that needs resolution at the time of withdrawal must be resolved before including any funds in “Aid that Could Have Been Disbursed” in R2T4 calculations.
If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact your Customer Service Representatives via support.fameinc.com.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved a new Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification form (Self-Certification form). This newly approved form does not contain any substantive changes from the prior Self-Certification form that had an expiration date of February 28, 2013. The new Self-Certification form is available for use immediately and may be accessed from the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN-13-15 where it was provided as an attachment to the DCL. The older, expired form has still been accepted thus far even though the expiration date had passed. ED states that it may continue to be distributed by schools through June 30, 2013, and may be accepted through July 31, 2013. After these dates, all schools that distribute the Self-Certification form must use the newly released version that became available on June 12, 2013. The new form has an expiration date of May 31, 2016.
The Self-Certification form has been a requirement for schools since February 14, 2010. It is applicable to situations when a student chooses to apply for a non-Federal private education loan. The law requi
ED has provided yet a third update on guidance related to the effects of sequestration that took place effective March 1, 2013. In the announcement that ED made on Friday, May 31, 2013, schools are informed that the most recent estimates by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shows that the effect of sequestration will result in a less than previously announced reduction in the award amounts for TEACH Grants.
In the last sequestration announcement on April 26, 2013, ED stated that the TEACH Grant amounts would have to be reduced by 7.1% for any TEACH Grant first disbursed after March 1, 2013. This required reduction amount has now been lowered yet again to 6.0% for any TEACH Grants first disbursed after March 1, 2013. Although this may create some revisions to awards that schools have already made, it is important that schools ensure that students receive all the award amounts for which they are entitled.
Also, it is important to note that there were no further reductions in the previously announced sequestration effect on the Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG) awards. The sequestration reduction amount required for any IASG awards disbursed after March 1, 2
Effective June 9, 2013, the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) will only retain files for 90 days. This is a reduction from the 180 days that has heretofore been the data retention period. The data retention period is how long ED retains files in the system that are transmitted via the SAIG. Schools should ensure that all files that are stored in archive or that have not yet been pulled in from their SAIG mailboxes are retrieved and appropriately handled prior to June 9, 2013. Any files in SAIG that are older than 90 days as of June 9, 2013 will no longer be able to be retrieved or accessed in SAIG.
If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact your Customer Service Representatives via support.fameinc.com.
The Department of Education (ED) has made changes in the information related to loan counseling. Schools should be aware that StudentLoans.gov now contains additional information for required loan counseling that was not previously on this site. As of March 24, 2013 StudentLoans.gov now contains enhanced Entrance Counseling, Financial Awareness Counseling, and Exit Counseling modules. It is important to note that Exit Counseling is no longer available through the NSLDS Student Access Web site. All Exit Counseling that is performed through ED's resources must now be done through StudentLoans.gov. This will necessitate schools that use ED's Direct Loan Exit Counseling to update their consumer information regarding Exit Counseling (e.g., where you tell students to go to complete the counseling in your catalogs, brochures, and on your Web site, etc.). Schools are encouraged to review and be cognizant of all of the enhancements and the list of "clarifications" (questions and answers) that ED has provided related to the enriched StudentLoans.gov in the
ED has released Volume 4 of the 2013-2014 FSA Handbook, “Processing Aid and Managing FSA Funds”. Some of the new items contained in this year’s edition of Volume 4 are:
A reminder that schools may not use Title IV funds to pay “overtime charges” for a student who fails to complete his or her academic program within the normal time frame;
An additional reminder that although schools do not have to return Direct Loan proceeds if a student who received a Direct Loan disbursement begins attendance for the loan period, but does so on a less than half-time basis, the school must not make any subsequent disbursements of the loan, unless the student resumes enrollment on at least a half-time basis;
A whole new chapter on “Reconciliation” in this year’s edition (which also happens to be included in the recently released new Blue Book).
Subsequent to the release of Volume 4, two additional volumes have also been made ava
ED has clarified that just because a State requires an institution to report the number of clock hours in a program before it approves, it does not necessarily make that program a clock hour one in all cases. The Department indicates that it depends on how the State uses the clock hour information, and specifically whether the State uses the information in a substantive way. The example given denotes that if the State establishes a ratio of clock to credit hours for the purpose of approving the program in the State, or if the school is required to use the clock hour information in calculating a refund under State law, then the clock hour information is being used in a substantive manner. Thus, in such cases, the program would be considered a clock hour program for Title IV purposes.
However, in other cases ED addresses, the number of clock hours a State may require for a program to be authorized in the State will necessitate a program being considered a clock hour program. An example provided stipulates that an automotive repair program that must contain at least 1000 clock hours to be approved by the State is a clock hour program for Title IV purposes. Likewise, if a State lice
Verification of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 may be accomplished simply by the use of a verification document/worksheet in most cases. When a student completes either the 2012-2013 or 2013-2014 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and indicates that someone in the household received SNAP benefits (formerly called Food Stamps) in questions 75 or 96, as appropriate, a statement from the student and/or parent, as applicable, is generally sufficient documentation for verification purposes. Many schools will utilize a verification worksheet or document that allows for the individual to check affirmatively whether one of the persons included in the household size indicated on the FAFSA did, in fact, receive SNAP benefits for the applicable years included on the FAFSA. (FAME clients may choose to utilize the sample verification documents/worksheets accessible via FAME Connect.)
If a school has reason to question the validity or accuracy of the affirmation made regarding SNAP benefits, the school may request documentation to substantiate the claim that SNAP benefits were received. Such documentation, if requested, may
ED distributed new information late Friday, April 26, 2013 in an Electronic Announcement regarding the effects of sequestration. This latest information modifies the prior announcements regarding sequestration. Specifically affected is the percentage of reduction to be used in calculating Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grants (IASG) and TEACH Grants. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has recalculated the required percentage reduction for these programs to be 10.0 percent for IASG and 7.1 percent for TEACH Grants. The percentages previously announced were 37.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively. Therefore, this change will allow for slightly higher grants from these two programs than previously announced for awards that have a first disbursement on or after March 1, 2013.
The method schools use for calculating the correct IASG and TEACH Grant award amounts for students remains the same as published in the DYK released earlier on April 26, 2013. The only difference in that information is the new percentages ED just released after the last DYK on sequestration was released this past Friday. The sequestration changes for IASG and
Did You Know? ED provided additional further clarification on the impact of sequestration. Specifically, ED states that the impending increased loan origination fee percentages will be as follows:
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans: The origination fee is increasing from 1.0 percent to 1.051 percent. An example of how this will be felt by borrowers is that the fee on a $5,500 loan will be increased by $2.80, resulting in an origination fee of $57.80 vs. a $55.00 origination fee on the same loan amount currently.
Direct PLUS Loans (Parent PLUS and Graduate PLUS Loans): The origination fee is being increased from 4.0 percent to 4.204 percent. The impact of this increase on a $10,000 PLUS Loan will result in an increase of $20.40 in the loan origination fee, moving from $400.00 to $420.40.
The loan origination fee increase is applicable to all loans with a first disbursement on or after July 1, 2013. Additionally, COD will not accept loan records until June 28, 2013 for loans with a first disbursement date scheduled for July 1, 2013 or later.
It is time to ensure that all verification status codes are appropriately and accurately reported for 2012-2013. ED has sent out a reminder via an Electronic Announcement on April 9, 2013 (updated on April 10, 2013) to encourage all schools to review any Pell Grant records submitted for 2012-2013 to confirm that all records have a valid verification status code of "V" or "S". At this point, there should not be any records that have been submitted via the Common Record document submitted to COD that still have a "W" status on file. (The "W" status should have only been used when an institution made an interim Pell Grant disbursement before completing verification, i.e., made a payment "Without" verification being completed, and thus, the "W" status.)
On April 8, 2013, ED began sending messages to schools that have one or more student records showing a "W" status. The warning message indicates that disbursements to all students with a verification status code of “W” will be considered overawards and reduced to a zero dollar amount ($0.00), even though the disbursements were previously accepted in the COD System. The reduction of the affected disbursements
ED has released the "2013-2014 FAFSA Verification-IRS Tax Return Transcript Matrix." Similar to last year, the matrix helps Financial Aid Administrators correlate the correct lines on the Tax Return Transcript to the questions asked on the FAFSA and displayed on the ISIR.
The Tax Return Transcript Matrix is also a useful tool for assisting students as they complete the FAFSA if they have a question about what data is being asked, or if they are not able to utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
The Matrix was released in the March 15, 2013 Electronic Announcement. You can download the
Federal Student Aid began processing the first Pell Grant Administrative Cost Allowance (ACA) payments for the 2012-2013 Award Year. Schools will begin to see these payments deposited directly into their bank accounts over the next few weeks. For complete information about these ACA payments, refer to the March 12, 2013 Electronic Announcement that is posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site.
In February 2013, the release of the draft cohort default rates to all eligible schools, guaranty agencies, and lenders was postponed. The release dates have been rescheduled, and the plan is to release 2-year and 3-year draft cohort default rates as follows:
On March 18, 2013 the FY 2011 2-year draft cohort default rates are planned to be released
On March 25, 2013 the FY 2010 3-year draft cohort default rates are planned to be released
All schools, both domestic and foreign, enrolled in the Electronic Cohort Default Rate (eCDR) process will receive their FY 2011 2-year and the FY 2010 3-year draft cohort default rate and accompanying documentation via their Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) mailbox. Any school not enrolled in the eCDR process may download their cohort default rate and accompanying documentation from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) via the NSLDS Professional Access Web site.
The entire Cohort Default Rate Guide is available at Operations Performance Division's Web site at
ED has posted the initial volume of the 2013-2014 "Federal Student Aid Handbook," the "Application and Verification Guide" (AVG). It is intended for financial aid administrators and counselors who help students in completing the FAFSA initially and/or are involved in the verification and corrections process. Of importance is that it provides the EFC worksheets and the related tables for being able to calculate or analyze an EFC. The introduction to the AVG also highlights the changes that have been made in the Guide for 2013-2014.
Note: Federal Student Aid no longer offers printed copies of the Federal Student Aid Handbook. Schools can download the most recent version of the 2013-2014 Federal Student Aid Handbook at any time from its page on the IFAP Web site.To access the Application and Verification Guide of the 2013-2014 Federal Student Handbook, click here.
ED announced updates made to enhance NSLDS in a recent newsletter. Specifically, it covers the addition of the Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU) percentage to the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) process, the display of new Pell Grant LEU Limit warning icons, and the addition of the Unusual Enrollment History (UEH) Indicator to the prescreening and postscreening processes. The Newsletter further describes updates to the Transfer Student Monitoring (TSM) and Financial Aid History (FAH) reports, modifications to aggregate calculations, updates to Cohort Default Rate (CDR) Loan Record Detail Reports (LRDRs), and modifications to CDR and Repayment Information Web pages. Schools will find it helpful to take note of these enhancements. You can view Newsletter #41 here.
If a school did not use all of its 2011-2012 Campus-Based programs federal allocations, and that amount not used exceeded 10% of the federal allocation, a school has until February 8, 2013 to submit a request for a waiver of the penalty for not using all of its allocation. If an acceptable request for waiver of the penalty is not submitted by that date, the institution's Campus-Based federal allocations for 2013-2014 will be reduced by the amount not utilized in 2011-2012. A waiver may be granted only if the school is able to explain that the underuse was due to circumstances beyond its control and why those circumstances are not expected to recur. See the Electronic Announcement dated January 16, 2013 on IFAP for more details.
Did You Know....That the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has released information on the new Pay as You Earn (PAYE) Direct Loan Repayment Plan?
ED announced on December 21, 2012 that information on the new PAYE repayment plan was available. This new PAYE plan is designed to assist borrowers with repayment when the borrower's student loan debt is high when compared to his or her income. The use of this plan may assist borrowers in avoiding delinquency or default, and as a result may assist schools in maintaining a lower default rate. Borrowers and schools should be aware of the short- and long-term impact of the use of this plan. See the December 21, 2012 Electronic Announcement on IFAP for more information.
January 8, 2013 is the deadline for updating 2012-2013 SARs/ISIRs with students' current e-mail addresses in order for students to receive the Renewal FAFSA reminder for 2013-2014.
ED reminds schools that students' SARs/ISIRs must be updated by January 8, 2013 in order to be sent the Renewal FAFSA for the coming school year. Students who meet the FAFSA renewal eligibility requirements will be sent a reminder by e-mail between January 13, 2013 and February 10, 2013. It is important to note that for the 2013-2014 processing year, ED will not send paper renewal reminders to reapply for Federal Student Aid (i.e., complete the Renewal FAFSA).
See the November 1, 2012 Electronic Announcement on IFAP for more information.
If you have any questions regarding the information in this Did You Know, please contact your Customer Service Representatives by calling 800.327.5772 x 5.
The Department of Education (ED) has temporarily extended the time frame that a PLUS credit check will be considered valid.
A PLUS Loan credit check for both, Parent PLUS Loans and Grad PLUS Loans, is now valid for up to 180 days. This is a change from the previous length of time of 90 days for a credit check to be considered valid. This change, not previously announced by ED, was to provide some relief to those applicants that were impacted by changes in the PLUS approval process that was implemented in the fall of 2011. For a limited time, any PLUS applicant that has a credit check that was run less than 180 days prior to the loan origination will not need to have another credit check run prior to processing the loan. If for some reason an applicant has had two credit checks run within the la
Institutions must update their GE Program disclosures for the 2011–2012 award year by January 31, 2013.
The disclosures must be based on data about students who completed the GE Program during the 11-12 award year (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012). The Department of Education has not, to date, provided the GE disclosure form (template) referred to in the regulations. Until the template is available, institutions must make their GE Program disclosures using an institutionally-determined format. The institution must ensure that all six components of the disclosure requirements are included. The following must be included in a GE Program’s disclosures:
Occupations that the program prepares students to enter.
Normal time to complete the program.
On-time graduation rate for completers.
Tuition and fees for completing the program in the normal time.
Placement rate for completers, if required by state or accreditor.
Median educational loan debt incurred by completers, disclosed in three separate categories: Title IV loans, private loans, and institutional debt.
Schools should see the regulations an
Did you know the Department of Education provides regulatory relief for "major disasters" FAME would like to remind you about existing guidance (Dear Colleague Letter GEN-10-16)for a "major disaster" that impacts the administration of the Title IV student assistance programs. In addition, the Department provides a resource center with information for students, parents, student loan borrowers, colleges and universities, and financial institutions that participate in the federal student assistance programs.
If you have any questions or concerns in regards to regulatory relief for major disasters, you may contact the Department of Education’s School Participation Team.
It is critical that you use the disbursement date ("Disb Date") specified on FAME's Disbursement Rosters when posting to student accounts. Using this date is essential to ensure that the disbursement date on the student account ledger matches the date reported to the U.S. Department of Education by FAME.
Failure to use the specified date when posting these disbursements may result in a finding during your next audit or program review. A sample of the Disbursement Roster is in Appendix H-3 of the Policies and Procedures Manual.
If you have any questions regarding the information in this Did You Know, please contact your Customer Service Representatives by calling 800.327.5772 x 5.