ED’s Electronic Announcements (EAs) on IFAP: GENERAL AND VARIED ANNOUNCEMENTS
EA – Posted October 23, 2013 – (COD System). COD Computer-Based Training – 2013 Updates Group 3
ED announces the availability of the updated Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) Computer-Based Training (CBT) and provides a link to the CBT components in this EA. These CBT components cover a multitude of simulations related to the various functions and activities schools utilize in working with the COD system. This is the last update of the year for the CBT. This particular release includes updates to COD System simulations on the topics of “Locating Grant Information”, “Working with Batches”, and “Requesting Data”, while the CBT modules updated include “Direct Loan Reports” and “Pell Grant Reports”.
EA – Posted October 28, 2013 – (Loans). Loan Servicing Information – Repayment Plan Preference Information Shared with Loan Servicers Beginning January 2014
In this announcement the financial aid community is reminded that effective January 1, 2014 ED began to share borrowers’ elected repayment plan preference with loan servicers. The information shared is based upon the borrower’s indication of preference during the Exit Counseling session he or she completes on the StudentLoans.gov Web site. Although the information borrowers provide on StudentLoans.gov will be shared, ED specifies that the school versions of the NSLDS exit counseling completion reports will not be modified to include the repayment plan preference information.
EA – Posted November 1, 2013 – (General). Publication of Final Rule for the Title IV Student Loan Programs
The publication of this announcement includes the copy of the Federal Register of the same date which finalizes changes to certain aspects of the Federal Perkins Loan and the Federal Direct Loan Programs (as well as the former Federal Family Education Loan Program). Specifically, these new regulations address areas such as the change in the cohort default rate participation rate index ceiling for the purpose of challenges to, and appeals from, sanctions based on that default rate; the determination of reasonable and affordable payments for Direct Loan and FFEL borrowers wishing to rehabilitate their defaulted loans; the closed school loan discharge process;
an update to the Direct Loan enrollment reporting requirements and the addition of comparable provisions for Federal Perkins Loan enrollment reporting; forbearances to be granted to borrowers receiving Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Benefits and for borrowers who are 270 or more days delinquent on their loans; Federal Perkins Loan deferment and cancellation; FFEL lender repayment disclosures to borrowers; administrative wage garnishment for defaulted FFEL program borrowers; and, adjustments in the regulations necessary due to the impact of the SAFRA Act of 2010, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, as well as other miscellaneous changes in the law. Schools are encouraged to read this regulation for more information and the details of the various provisions and requirements.
EA – Posted November 1, 2013 – (General). Department Launches Income-Driven Federal Student Loan Repayment Campaign
Important information about ED’s initiative to increase borrower awareness of the income-driven student loan repayment options is shared in this EA. A more in-depth review and analysis of this announcement were provided in FAME’s online November 19, 2013 “Did You Know?” article in the blog page archives.
Schools are reminded of the important requirement that each Direct Loan participating school must have a DL Quality Assurance process. This is a regulatory requirement and is not new. However, ED felt the need to remind schools of this regulation. Apparently, although not stated, a number of schools are being observed to be negligent in this area. Please review FAME’s online November 26, 2013 “Did You Know?” article in the blog page archives for a more detailed discussion.
EA – Posted November 15, 2013 – (Campus-Based). Federal Perkins Loan Default Reduction Assistance Program (DRAP)
ED informs schools of the benefits of the Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Default Reduction Assistance Program (DRAP) in this EA. The intent of the program is to help schools bring defaulted Perkins Loan borrowers back into repayment before being referred to collection agencies. The announcement provides tips and information to enhance the successful use of the electronic DRAP process.
ED provides a reminder to schools of the new single number initiated in September 2013 that schools may use (not for students) to contact ED’s various Federal Student Aid (FSA) “School Contact Centers. The new line, dubbed “Reach FSA”, is a new phone line for the financial aid community that provides the option of calling one number, 1-855-FSA-4-FAA (1-855-372-4322), to reach any of the 10 FSA School Contact Centers, e.g., eZ-Audit Help Desk, the Total and Permanent Disability Servicer, etc. When calling to reach one of the contact centers, a caller simply states the name of the contact center being called and the system will direct the caller to that center. It should be noted that schools may continue to call directly the numbers previously used to contact the individual call centers if so desired.
EA – Posted November 27, 2013 – (Loans). New Direct Consolidation Loan Process Information – High-Level Overview of Phased Implementation Approach
The financial aid community is made aware of the process being utilized to transition from ED’s prior Direct Consolidation Loan servicer, ACS (Xerox), to a new process. The process is being done in several phases with the eventual result being the new Direct Consolidation Loan process that all those wishing to consolidate their loans will utilize. The first phase begins in January 2014 with the final phase being completed in the spring of 2014. The consolidation process will include an electronic five-step application. ED states that for borrowers the process will be very similar to the prior consolidation process, with a few enhanced features due to the electronic process. Borrowers will initiate the application through the StudentLoans.gov Web site.
EA – Posted December 4, 2013 – (General). U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid Launches Financial Aid Toolkit
A new resource that ED has developed is available to those interested in helping students prepare financially for college or career school at FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov. The toolkit is designed to make various resources available in one online database for easy search and access. The resources include the complete financial aid lifecycle of a student’s educational career, from applying for financial aid through loan repayment. Schools may find this a useful resource as they search for tools to assist in increasing students’ awareness of necessary information.
THE INFORMATION PROVIDED TO YOU IS FAME’S OPINION BASED ON OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE ISSUES AND EVENTS PROVIDED AND OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE TITLE IV REGULATIONS AS THEY MAY APPLY. FAME SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY ERRORS CONTAINED HEREIN OR FOR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO THE USE OF THIS INFORMATION.