GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT (GE)
EA – Posted September 4, 2015 – (Gainful Employment). Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #60 – GE Reporting and Resolving Incorrect Credential Level Data in NSLDS and in COD
Schools are alerted to the fact that ED has sent out warning letters to schools that reported at least one loan origination record for 2014-2015 in COD where the record indicated the student was enrolled in a GE program, but the school did not submit GE data to NSLDS by the July 31, 2015, reporting deadline. This announcement gives schools who received such a warning letter instructions on how to utilize the NSLDS GE Program Tracking List to resolve any errors in the COD System. (For information on the GE Program Tracking functionality, see also Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #59, dated August 20, 2015.) If a school received one of these warning letters about errors, they must not delay in making the necessary corrections.
DEFAULT RATE INFORMATION
EA – September 30, 2015 – (Loans). FY 2012 3-Year Official Cohort Default Rates Distributed September 28, 2015
Schools are informed of the release of the FY 2012 3-Year official cohort default rate (CDR) notification packages. Schools had to have been enrolled in eCDR in order to receive the notification packages. If a school was not enrolled in eCDR at the time of distribution of the notification packages, the school will need to access the data via the NSLDS Professional Access Web site. The deadline for appealing any information in this CDR package began October 6, 2015. Depending upon the specific item being appealed, the time period for appeal may range from 15-30 days from October 6, 2015. Schools should review this EA, along with the official Cohort Default Rate Guide, for specific time frames applicable to the appeal they wish to file.
EA – September 30, 2015 – (Loans). National Default Rate Briefings for FY 2012 3-Year Official Rates
ED provides its annual “briefings” on CDRs, which this year is for the FY 2012 3-year rates. This data that is displayed in chart format relays national averages data as well as comparative information among the various sectors of postsecondary education. Schools with small numbers of student borrowers entering repayment and/or that have few students that take out student loans should use caution when interpreting the information provided in the briefings.
GENERAL AND VARIED ANNOUNCEMENTS
EA – Posted July 13, 2015 – (Loans). Reaffirmation Data on NSLDS
This EA is an announcement that NSLDS has recently been enhanced to allow the reporting of borrowers’ reaffirmation agreements by lenders and loan servicers. Reaffirmation agreements made will now display on NSLDS and on Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs). It is noteworthy that while reporting of a reaffirmation agreement is mandatory for federal loan servicers, it is optional for the older FFEL program lenders and loan servicers.
EA – Posted July 17, 2015 – (General). FSA ID/PIN Replacement – FSA ID Must Only Be Created By FSA ID Owner
ED specifies with great clarity that the newly instituted FSA IDs are to only be created and used by the FSA ID owner. ED’s analysis indicates that there have been instances where parents have created the FSA ID on the student’s behalf. This is not allowed as it defeats the purpose of the FSA ID being similar to the individual student’s signature. Likewise, third party entities such as loan consolidators, financial advisors, and schools are prohibited from creating and/or using a student’s FSA ID. ED will continue to monitor the situation and determine if legal action is required regarding violators.
EA – Posted August 26, 2015 – (Direct Loans). Reminder – Direct Loan Origination Fee Change October 1, 2015
ED provides this announcement as a reminder of the change in the origination fee for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2015, and before October 1, 2016. This was described earlier this year in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-15-07. The fee change is a result of the required Fiscal Year 2016 sequester that is a continuation of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the sequester law). The loan fee for Direct Subsidized Loans and for Direct Unsubsidized Loans is 1.068%. The loan fee for Direct PLUS Loans (for both parent borrowers and graduate and professional student borrowers) is 4.272%.
EA – Posted September 8, 2015 – (General). Compliance with the Clery Act
Clarification is given by ED in this Electronic Announcement regarding “certifications” being offered to Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) and other institutional officials. ED specifies that it does not offer certifications and does not recognize “certifications” offered by any third party (consultants, law firms, vendors, etc.). ED also clarifies that it does not require or expect an institution to have a “certification” in order to demonstrate compliance with the Clery Act. At that point ED’s EA on the subject ends with instructions for institutions to contact ED’s Campus Safety Help Desk by phone or e-mail.
Although, ED has clarified that a “certification” is not required, expected, nor given any weight of consideration in a review, this information does not negate the requirement in the regulations that institutions must ensure that there is annual training of the appropriate individuals at the school “on the issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and on how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability.” (See 34 CFR 668.46(k)(2)(ii).) Also, see the discussion in the Federal Register /Vol. 79, No. 202 /Monday, October 20, 2014 on such pages as 62753, 62773, 62778, and 62782.
EA – Posted September 14, 2015 – (General). President’s Announcement of FAFSA Filing Changes
In this EA schools are made aware of the significant changes related to the filing and processing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will be available for completion and processing on October 1, 2016, for the 2017-2018 award year. Also, with this change, applicants will begin to utilize the income and tax return data for one year earlier, or what has been called the “prior prior year”. As an example, for the 2016-2017 award year, applicants will use data from the 2015 calendar year/tax year, which is the most recently completed calendar year prior to the beginning of the award year. However, commencing with the 2017-2018 year, applicants will use data from the year prior to the most recently completed calendar year. (Said, differently, applicants will use the data from two years back—that is, the second year prior to the beginning of the award year for which aid is being applied.) So, for the 2017-2018 FAFSA, applicants will utilize income data from the 2015 calendar year/tax year. So, as this transition occurs, the 2015 income data will be utilized for two different award years’ processing. There are items to consider as this change takes place. ED has stated that they will be providing additional guidance in the coming weeks.
EA – Posted September 25, 2015 – (Direct Loans). 150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit: Electronic Announcement #19 – Importance of Accurate Direct Loan and Enrollment Reporting to Prevent Loss of Subsidy
ED once again re-emphasizes the critical importance of accurately reporting a borrower’s Direct Loan (Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans) information to the COD System and enrollment information to NSLDS to ensure that Subsidized Usage and interest subsidy status can be calculated correctly. Incorrect reporting may cause borrowers to lose interest subsidy for which they should be eligible. Such inaccurate reporting may result in ED imposing sanctions on the school. Schools are encouraged to review this EA to ensure they are aware of correct procedures for reporting and consequences of incorrect reporting.
EA- Posted July 31, 2015 – (General). Availability of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook Appendices [2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook]
With this announcement, ED releases the appendices to the Federal Student Aid Handbook. The appendices “contain information of general interest that isn’t appropriate for inclusion in just one volume or is so unique that it requires separate treatment.”
EA – Posted August 25, 2015 – (General). School Eligibility and Operations [2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook]
ED has completed the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook during this past quarter. Specifically, on August 25, 2015, ED released the final outstanding volume for 2015-2016: Volume 2 – School Eligibility and Operations
This volume is a key instrument in providing an understanding of a school’s responsibilities in order to remain Title IV-eligible. Throughout this volume it not only gives the requirements, but also practical guidance related to the operations of your school from a Title IV perspective.
GENERAL AND VARIED DCL TOPICS
DCL – GEN-15-15: July 22, 2015 – Implementation of the VAWA Final Regulations
This DCL gives a comprehensive summary of the requirements of the October 20, 2014, final regulations that implement the amendments made to the Clery Act by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) (Pub. Law 113-4). The law had been signed by President Obama on March 7, 2013. The regulations went into effect on July 1, 2015. ED notes that nothing in these regulations negates or changes the requirements of legislation, regulations, or guidance related to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This is important to note since there are provisions of the VAWA regulations that allow for use of the same definitions and decisions (e.g., what standard of evidence may be used in investigations and proceedings). Schools will find that reading through this EA will provide a helpful checklist of information to compare their policies and procedures against to determine compliance with the regulations. However, this DCL should not be considered a substitute for the need to be familiar with the actual regulations.
DCL – GEN-15-18: July 29, 2015 – Protecting Student Information
In this DCL, ED specifies its expectation that schools will quickly assess their current policies and implement strong security policies and controls. This assessment and implementation is not to be a one-time effort. ED expects Title IV FSA partners to have an ongoing system of monitoring the adequacy of its systems, databases, and processes that relate to Title IV aid processing (which is most systems and processes at an institution). Schools are reminded that the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) Enrollment Agreement states that schools will “ensure that all Federal Student Aid applicant information is protected from access by or disclosure to unauthorized personnel.” It is important that schools review this DCL as one means to assist in reassessing their responsibilities regarding security of student information. For a further discussion on this topic, see the feature article, “Is it Safe Yet?”, later in this edition of the Inside Report.