The Department of Education has modified its stance when working with overlapping academic years
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has modified its stance related to steps used when working with overlapping academic years in scenarios where students change schools. The updated guidance clarifies the authorized method for schools to use in determining the beginning date of the academic year at a student’s prior school in situations where there is a potential overlap of the academic year at the prior school and the student’s current school. Previously, and as remains an option, schools always had the choice to contact the prior school to obtain documentation of that school’s academic year begin and end dates in potential overlapping year cases. But, schools could also choose to assume the dates of the academic year at the prior school when the information was not available. Using this alternative assumption method, the new school could consider—in most cases—that the prior academic year began with the starting date of the student’s most recent loan period (as shown in NSLDS) and to have ended 30 calendar weeks later. ED no longer authorizes this alternative assumption method as an acceptable way for determining the dates of the prior academic year. The change in guidance is based upon the fact that academic year dates of the prior school are now available to schools. The statement from ED specifies that “since academic year dates are available from COD, it is no longer permissible to use the assumption method. Schools must use the data available on the ‘award detail information page’ in the COD Web interface.” Schools should ensure that all staff involved in processing loans is aware of this updated guidance from ED. ED has updated this current guidance as provided in the 2013-2014 Federal Student Aid Handbook. Any institutions that may have printed a hard copy of the FSA Handbook should ensure that they update their printed version with the recent guidance by including a copy of ED’s “Volume: Errata and Updates for 2013-2014 FSA Handbook” or by printing a new copy of page 3-109 of the 2013-2014 FSA Handbook.