ED’s Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs) on IFAP – (listed by DCL category by date)
Of interest to the financial aid community is this fourth update on the across the board budget cuts to the Federal Student Aid programs. This round of adjustments, known as sequestration, further impact a number of the Title IV programs, specifically the Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grants, the TEACH Grants, and the origination fees on the Direct Loan programs. For a detailed review of this round of sequestration effects, as well as a chart outlining the required changes resulting from sequestration, please see FAME’s “Did You Know?” article posted October 14, 2013.
DCL – GEN-13-25: December 13, 2013 – Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and the Implications for the Title IV Student Financial Assistance Programs
ED provides its most recent guidance and information related to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The letter gives guidance specific to both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 processing. Of key significance is the scope of the definition of marriage and jurisdictional applicability. Instructions are provided related to the implications of the Court’s decision on DOMA and students’ applications for Federal Student Aid for the current and upcoming award years. For a more detailed review, please see the Legislative Feature article below.
DCL – GEN-13-26: December 13, 2013 – 2014-2015 Financial Aid Shopping Sheet
In this Dear Colleague Letter ED describes the 2014-2015 version of the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. Although ED did meet with various users and received comments about the Shopping Sheet, the end result is that only “modest modifications” were made in the 2014-2015 edition. Notably, some slight changes in the wording of the fields were made to clarify the data. Also, a glossary of the terms used on the form is included on the reverse side of the Shopping Sheet. The DCL also included an attachment of the institutional metrics that schools need in order to populate their data on the Shopping Sheet. ED updates this institutional metrics data annually based upon information that is contained in ED’s IPEDS system and NSLDS. Schools should ensure accuracy in their reporting to these entities to make certain correct data is provided in the Institutional Metrics Data File each year. The Shopping Sheet may be a help to those institutions that receive Federal funds under the military and veterans educational benefits programs to meet a disclosure responsibility that is required as a result of Executive Order 13607. Otherwise, the use of the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet remains optional for many institutions in 2014-2015. Yet, it is noteworthy that ED reports that approximately 2000 institutions have elected to use it.
DCL – GEN-13-26: December 24, 2013 – IMPORTANT UPDATE: Change to FY 2014 Sequestration-Required Reduction to TEACH
In this DCL we receive ED’s fifth update on guidance related to the force of sequestration that first took place with an effective date of March 1, 2013. This most recent guidance impacts only the effect on the TEACH Grants first disbursed during Federal Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 2014). The updated information is provided as a result of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) recalculation of the FY2014 sequester-required reduction percentage for the TEACH Grant program. The revised reduction is now determined to be 0.89 percent. This is a significant percentage decrease from the 7.2 percent reduction announced most recently in October 2013. As a result of this reduction in the percentage decrease from what was announced earlier, schools must now adjust any TEACH Grant award that has a first disbursement date of on or after October 1, 2013 and before October 1, 2014, whether the grant has already been disbursed, or is yet to be disbursed. These changes increase the students’ TEACH Grant awards by approximately $250. (Schools should perform the actual calculations required to determine the exact amount for their students.) Note that this change in the sequestration percentage for TEACH Grants is only affecting the TEACH Grant sequestration impacts. Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grants and the Direct Loan origination fee amounts that were published in the October DCL are not affected in this most recent adjustment announced.
DCL – ANN-13-18: November 7, 2013 – Training Resource – 90/10 Regulation and Calculation Presentation Materials
Many times schools question what the 90/10 regulation is and how it impacts for-profit schools and those proprietary institutions that become non-profit. This DCL provides the link to a presentation ED provided online in the fall of 2011. It has been updated, and although it was originally designed for presentation to business officers, all financial aid administrators and school administrators or owners will find it helpful in gaining a better understanding of the 90/10 regulation.
DCL – ANN-13-20: December 9, 2013 – Webinar Recording – 150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit Webinar #3: Review of Basics and Implementation Update
ED makes available the information provided in the November 12, 2013 webinar that ED conducted on the 150% Direct Subsidized Loan limit. It gives an update on the implementation plans of the new limit, as well as reporting requirements related to this provision of the law. The slides utilized in the webinar, as well as a recording and transcript of the webinar, are available through this DCL. Individuals interested in gaining a better understanding of the requirements and the upcoming timeframes related to the requirements will find this material useful.
DCL – ANN-13-21: December 30, 2013 – FSA COACH – 2013-2014 Update for Domestic Schools
This letter announces the availability of updated editions of FSA Coach for domestic schools. FSA Coach provides a comprehensive course of study online to allow for self-paced study of the fundamentals of Title IV aid administration. The courses are written at an introductory level, but provide 33 lessons in more than 40 hours of instruction. Training can be done on an individual lesson basis or as a full course, and offers interactive exercises, reviews and quizzes with a goal of ensuring mastery of the material covered. (ED notes that they anticipate an update to the FSA Coach for foreign schools for 2013-2014 yet in the future; the 2012-2013 version is still currently available for foreign schools’ use.)