GENERAL AND VARIED ANNOUNCEMENTS

EA – Posted January 11, 2013 – (General).  Availability of Updated NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Guide

ED announces the availability of the updated NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Guide.  The Guide provides detailed instruction for reporting enrollment, whether the method of reporting is online or by batch.  Of note, among several changes, is the relabeling of the fields

‘Term Begin Date”, “Term End Date”, and “Credential Level”.  ED states that while these fields are not mandated currently (although they were incorrectly labeled as mandated in the last version of the Guide), providing the credential level of the academic program of the student reported with an enrollment status of “G” (graduated) assists ED in tracking the success of Title IV fund usage.

EA – Posted January 18, 2013 – (General).  Helpful Social Media Tools to Promote FAFSA Completion

In this announcement, ED makes Financial Aid Administrators aware of the new social media tools that ED hopes will be utilized by schools to promote completion of the FAFSA early in the year.  Included as part of the tools were Tweets and Facebook posts to encourage FAFSA completion, YouTube video links about how to complete the FAFSA, and infographics that schools may use to embed in their information dissemination, etc.

EA – Posted January 18, 2013 – (General).  Institutional Metric Data File for the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet

The Department provides as an attachment to this EA the data necessary to complete the institutional metrics portion of the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet.  Specifically, this includes the institutional information for graduation rate, loan default rate, and the median borrowing figures.  Schools are reminded of ED’s encouragement to begin using the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet in their awarding process for 2013-2014.  Schools are further reminded that using the Shopping Sheet helps institutions that have agreed to comply with the Principles of Excellence Executive Order 13607 meet the requirement to provide students who are eligible to receive Federal military and veterans’ educational benefits with a personalized and standardized form that displays financial aid information.

EA – Posted January 30, 2013 – (General).  Availability of 2013 Blue Book

After a number of years absent an updated Blue Book (the last prior edition was released in 2005), ED makes the community aware of the 2013 Blue Book’s release with this EA.  In this edition, the volumes of the Blue Book now roughly correlate by number to the volumes of the Federal Student Aid Handbook, rather than simply being listed by chapter numbers in the past.  The Blue Book is somewhat to the Fiscal Office/Bursar’s Office what the Federal Student Aid Handbook is to Financial Aid Administrators.  It provides guidance on accounting, recordkeeping, managing, and reporting by schools that participate in FSA programs.  Schools will do well to be aware of and utilize this resource tool.

EA – Posted February 19, 2013 – (General).  Title IV Aid Disbursement Reporting, Excess Cash, and Reconciliation Requirements

ED produced this EA to remind schools of the general disbursement reporting, excess cash and reconciliation requirements for the Title IV programs.  It is pointed out that disbursement reporting must be submitted no later than 30 days after the disbursement or becoming aware of a need to make an adjustment.  (Note:  ED points out in this discussion that the timeframe may be changing.  In fact, it has.  As of April 1, 2013 disbursements and adjustments must be reported within 15 days of the action.  Reference the EA posted March 15, 2013 discussed under the 2012-2013 Processing section earlier in this Inside Report.)  Schools are additionally reminded of the three business day disbursement requirement (with an additional seven calendar days allowed in some circumstances), and the requirement to reconcile Title IV aid recorded in the Department’s systems with that showing in the school’s internal records.  Direct Loan accounts must be reconciled monthly and it is recommended that other Title IV funds be likewise reconciled regularly.  Should a school have any questions about these requirements, it is important to review this EA for further details.

EA – Posted March 15, 2013 – (General).  Update:  Impact of Sequestration on the Title IV Student Financial Assistance Programs

In this EA the Department provides the latest information on sequestration.  Specifically, ED indicates that there will be no impact on the Federal Pell Grant Program.  The FWS and FSEOG programs will experience no impact for the remainder of 2012-2013, but will see funding reduced for 2013-2014.  However, schools are encouraged not to rely upon any tentative funding levels for Campus-Based programs until official amounts are released by ED later this spring.  Regarding Direct Loans, ED provides the specific amounts for the newly increasing loan fee percentages.  For Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans the rate will increase from 1.0 percent to 1.051 percent, or an increase of $2.80 on a $5500 loan.  The loan fee increase for Direct PLUS Loans will be rising from 4.0 percent to 4.204 percent, or an increase of $20.40 on a $10,000 PLUS Loan.  Student and parent borrowers have been notified of the fee increase.  ED provides a sample of the letter as an attachment.  Guidance is also provided that directs schools to continue to process loans as normal (i.e., before the fee increase) until such time as ED notifies the Financial Aid community of the date that the new fee amount must be used.  Until such time, schools are to continue to transmit loan information to COD with the prior loan fee percentages.  For the Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG) program and the TEACH Grant Program, we are provided with the amount of the cuts resulting from sequestration.  For the IASG, reductions apply only if the first disbursement of the IASG takes place after March 1, 2013.  If the reduction is applicable, it will be a 37.8% reduction in the amount for which the student would have otherwise been eligible (e.g., not a 37.8% reduction from the 2012-2013 Scheduled Award of $5550 unless that is the amount for which the student would have been eligible).  For example, if the student was not enrolled full-time, the reduction is based upon what the student would have been eligible for at his correct enrollment status.  Likewise, for TEACH Grant similar guidance is given.  However, the reduction percentage is at 12.6% from the amount the student would have been eligible for prior to the impact of sequestration.

EA – Posted March 18, 2013 – (Loans).  FY 2011 2-Year Draft Cohort Default Rages Distributed March 18, 2013

The financial aid community is notified of the distribution of the FY 2011 2-year Draft Cohort Default Rate notification packages.  The packages were distributed via the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG).  The announcement states that the time period for challenging a school’s FY 2011 2-Year Draft Cohort Default Rate under 34 C.F.R Part 668, Subpart M begins on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 for all schools.  Schools have 45 days from that date to submit an appeal.  (Note that the eCDR Appeals System gives a running count of days remaining in which you may submit an appeal (under the “Cases” tab).  See the eCDR Appeals Web site.

Remember that any school that did not have a borrower in repayment, during the current or any of the past cohort default rate periods, did not receive a FY 2011 draft cohort default rate notification package.  These schools are considered to have no cohort default rate data and no cohort default rate.

EA – Posted March 25, 2013 – (Loans).  FY2010 3-Year Draft Cohort Default Rates Distributed March 25, 2013

The FY2010 3-Year Draft Cohort Default Rates were distributed on March 25, 2013.  Under regulations published October 28, 2009, beginning with the FY 2009 cohort year, a school’s Cohort Default Rate (CDR) is calculated as the percentage of borrowers in the cohort who default before the end of the second fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the borrowers entered repayment.  This, in essence, creates the 3-year CDR.  ED will continue to calculate and publish official 2-year CDRs until three sets of 3-year rates are published. The last of these 2-year rates will be for the FY 2011 cohort and was released on March 18, 2013.  Beginning in 2014, only 3-year rates will be published since at that time three 3-year rates would have been calculated (FY 2009 published in 2012, FY 2010 published in 2013, and FY 2011 published in 2014).

Schools should review this Electronic Announcement to be reminded of the impact that will be incurred if a school’s FY 2010 official 3-year CDR is equal to or greater than 30% when the official CDR is published in September 2013.

The time period for challenging a school’s FY 2010 3-Year Draft Cohort Default Rate under 34 C.F.R Part 668, Subpart M begins on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 for all schools.  The deadline for submitting an appeal is 45 days from that date.  Schools that did not have a borrower in repayment, during the current or any of the past cohort default rate periods, will not receive a FY 2010 3-year draft cohort default rate notification package.  These schools are considered to have no cohort default rate data and no cohort default rate.

EA – Posted March 25, 2013 – (General).  StudentLoans.gov Resources – Availability of Enhanced Loan Counseling Modules and New Repayment Estimator

This announcement makes Financial Aid Administrators aware of the newest resources available at the StudentLoans.gov Web site.  These new resources include three enhanced loan counseling modules.  They are the Entrance Counseling, Financial Awareness Counseling, and Exit Counseling modules.  It is important that schools realize that the Exit Counseling module has been removed from the NSLDS Student Access Web site.  Schools should update any references and links to the Exit Counseling module to ensure accurate information and direction is provided to students.  Also in this announcement is information about the new Repayment Estimator now on the same StudentLoans.gov Web site.  It provides an easy-to-use tool that offers borrowers the opportunity to obtain preliminary repayment information across all of the repayment plans.  It is not to be seen as a substitute for borrowers consulting with his or her loan servicer for more specific detailed information, but will give a preliminary indicator of repayment information.

EA – Posted March 27, 2013 – (Verification).  Program Integrity Questions and Answers (Q&A) Website Update

The Financial Aid community is alerted to the most recent update to the Program Integrity Q&As Web site.  This resource covers all of the main topics of the Program Integrity regulations published on October 29, 2010.  This particular update provides answers related to verification. Schools are encouraged to review this Web site regularly for updated Q&As.