Did You Know?
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has updated its guidance related to natural disasters. In the wake of devastating hurricanes and other disasters that have occurred recently (e.g., wildfires), institutions would be well-advised to become familiar with ED’s latest instructions.
This most recent direction is contained in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-08, published on August 29, 2017. The ten-page attachment to the DCL gives specific guidance applicable to individual programs, e.g., Campus-Based Aid programs, Direct Loans, etc., as well as information related to Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) calculations, enrollment reporting, Federal Pell Grant reporting of disbursements, Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP) deadline, and much more.
The information in GEN-17-08 supersedes and replaces all previous guidance from ED as it relates to natural disasters. This includes the direction provided in DCL GEN-10-16/FP-10-06 (guidance for helping Title IV participants affected by a major disaster), GEN-04-04 (general guidance for helping Title IV participants affected by a disaster) and DCL GEN-05-17 (notice of waiver of Title IV grant repayment for students affected by a disaster).
Although not specified in writing yet by ED (as of the time this DYK is being written), it is reported that ED stated in “a stakeholder call held by Federal Student Aid (FSA) on Friday,” September 15, 2017, that institutions impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma can request an extension of the October 1 Gainful Employment (GE) reporting deadline through their school participation team (SPT) at ED’s School Participation Division (SPD). The SPT contact information is available at the “Help – Contact Information” page on IFAP. Alternatively, a list of contacts may be found at ED’s electronic Application for Approval to Participate in Federal Student Financial Aid Programs (E-App) at https://eligcert.ed.gov.
Of note is that ED has established a “Hurricane Help” page with information and contact numbers that may prove useful to those institutions affected by the recent hurricanes, or other natural disasters, as they work to restore the learning environment at their location. It may be accessed at https://www.ed.gov/hurricane-help.
We, at FAME, trust that all endured these latest natural disasters with minimal impact, are safe, and are recovering quickly to full educational operations.
Any specific questions related to addressing the impact of a natural disaster affecting your institution should be directed to your SPT at ED for information and unique guidance for your situation.
 “FSA Extends GE Reporting Deadline for Schools Impacted by Harvey, Irma, NASFAA’s Today’s News, September 18, 2017.