GENERAL AND VARIED ANNOUNCEMENTS
EA – Posted April 2, 2013– (Direct Loans). Updated Guidance on Making Direct Loan Refunds of Cash
In its annual reminder, ED points out that Direct Loan funds are not student-specific, but are program and award year-specific. This means that when one student will not use the funds or returns them to the school, they can be disbursed to other eligible students who will be receiving Direct Loans for the same Direct Loan award year. If the funds cannot be disbursed within the regulatory timeframes, they must be returned. Schools are also reminded of the methods for returning funds, with the use of G5 strongly encouraged. (Use of G5 is required when the amount of cash being refunded exceeds $100,000.) ED further reminds schools that DL disbursements, adjustments, and refunds of cash should be reported in whole dollars only. Failure to do so will negatively impact a school’s ability to complete its monthly reconciliation.
EA – Posted April 5, 2013– (General). Update: Impact of Sequestration on the Title IV Student Aid Programs [Note: Subsequent Updates to the Impact of Sequestration were provided in EAs posted April 26, 2013 and May 31, 2013.]
In this April 5, 2013 announcement, ED provided further clarification on the impact of sequestration. Specifically, ED states that the then impending increased fee percentages would be applicable to loans with a first disbursement on or after July 1, 2013. Additionally, COD was not able to accept loan records until June 28, 2013 for loans with a first disbursement date scheduled for July 1, 2013 or later. An important reminder was given that for any loans with a second or subsequent disbursement of a loan with a first disbursement prior to July 1, 2013, such loans’ disbursements must be made and reported to COD using the original 1.0 percent fees (or, 4.0 percent for PLUS Loans) rather than the new post-July 1, 2013 fee percentages.
Also, additional information was given regarding the final 2013-2014 Campus-Based funds authorizations. These programs (FWS and FSEOG only) will realize a 5.52% reduction in overall funds available for 2013-2014. Schools were alerted that they should be receiving their final funding worksheets and 2013-2014 Campus-Based Statement of Accounts around April 8, 2013.
In a subsequent EA posted April 26, 2013, ED alerts the financial aid community to modifications to the previously provided impact detailed in the April 5th EA. This later EA stated that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recalculated the required percentage reduction for the Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grants (IASG) and TEACH Grants programs to be 10.0 percent for IASG and 7.1 percent for TEACH Grants. The percentages previously announced were 37.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively.
In the most recent announcement from ED on May 31, 2013 on the subject of sequestration, a further adjustment was made in OMB’s projections for the TEACH Grant program only. This adjusted calculation now stipulates that the required reduction amount has now been lowered yet again to 6.0% for any TEACH Grants first disbursed after March 1, 2013. Note that this last announcement only impacted the projections for the TEACH Grants. There were no other adjustments to the earlier projections for Campus-Based funds or the IASG awards.
EA – Posted April 5, 2013– (Loans). StudentLoans.gov Resources – Enhanced Loan Counseling Clarifications
If a financial aid administrator needs to know more about what changes were recently implemented regarding loan counseling, this EA, with its attachment, will be a useful resource. It expounds upon changes implemented in March to ED’s loan counseling Web sites. The clarifications highlighted include ED’s plans to provide borrowers’ repayment plan preferences to federal loan servicers, and a description of what reports are available to schools via COD and NSLDS, etc. ED also indicates in this announcement that Spanish versions of the counseling modules should be available later this year.
EA – April 12, 2013– (Campus-Based). Federal Perkins Loan Program Status of Default as of June 30, 2012 (Orange Book)
The latest version of the Federal Perkins Loan Program Status of Default, commonly known as the Orange Book, is now available. This edition lists the cohort default rate for each school that participated in the Perkins Loan program during the 2011-2012 award year.
EA – April 19, 2013– (Campus-Based). Federal Perkins Loan Portfolio Liquidation and Assignment Procedures (Updated June 12, 2013)
In this announcement ED provides updated guidance and forms for institutions that may choose to liquidate its Federal Perkins Loan portfolio, or are otherwise required to do so. The announcement provides reminders, tips, and an overview of the changes in the process—which includes complete repayment histories of loans being submitted for assignment and disbursement records for assignment of loans made using the Master Promissory Note. The new forms and procedures are included as attachments to the EA. The original EA dated April 19, 2013 was updated most recently on June 12, 2013.
EA – April 19, 2013– (Loans). Clarification of November 9, 2012 Packaging and Repackaging of Title IV Student Aid Announcement
ED provides clarification of a scenario that was used as an example in the original EA last November. The key point of clarification is that for a student who is enrolled in both payment periods of an award year but did not apply for aid until the second payment period, and the student did not meet all student eligibility criteria the first payment period, he or she may only receive Pell Grant and Campus-Based aid, if applicable, for the second payment period, even though the student was enrolled in both periods. However, the student may obtain a Direct Loan for both periods of enrollment in the loan period in the award year, if otherwise eligible. That is where the clarification was made in the example given (Example B in the November EA) since the example student had not met all general student eligibility criteria in the first period, the student would not thus be eligible for the Direct Loan for both payment periods, but only in the second period if all eligibility criteria is met. If the student had met all general eligibility criteria for the whole year, the student could have received the DL for the full award year loan period, if otherwise eligible, which is in contrast to the Pell Grant which would still only be for the second period.
EA – April 19, 2013– (Direct Loans). PLUS Loan Applicant Communication
The financial aid community is made aware of ED’s efforts to contact Direct PLUS Loan applicants that were previously denied PLUS Loan eligibility based upon an adverse credit history, but whom ED believes may likely be approved if the applicant requests reconsideration. ED notes that it cannot guarantee that a previously denied applicant will be approved upon reconsideration, but points out that most such targeted applicants are subsequently approved. Of interest to schools, as well, is the fact that beginning June 28, 2013, the COD Web system will include a flag that indicates an applicant has been sent the special communication that he or she may qualify for a PLUS Loan under the reconsideration process. A report will be available in COD Release 12.2, effective June 28th, which lists the applicants who received the communication.
EA – Posted May 3, 2013– (Verification). Program Integrity Questions and Answers (Q&A) Website Update
In this EA the Department advises the community of updates to the verification section of the Program and Integrity Questions and Answers (Q&A) Website. There were no less than 5 updates to guidance previously provided, or new guidance issued, since the last Q&A update in March. Financial aid administrators are encouraged to frequently visit this resource for the latest guidance from ED. The information may be accessed through IFAP, or directly at the Program Integrity Q&As Web site.
EA – Posted May 6, 2013– (Loans). New NSLDS Median Borrowing Backup Detail Report
A new tool is made available with the release of this EA. The NSLDS Median Borrowing Backup Detail Report is the source of the data that is included in the calculation of the school’s Median Borrowing as it is reported on the College Scorecard. It provides schools with both the student and loan information used in the calculation of the median. Schools may obtain the report under the Report Tab on the NSLDS Professional Access Web site.
EA – Posted May 8, 2013– (General). SAIG Data Retention Period Decreasing to 90 Days
Effective June 9, 2013, the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) only retains files for 90 days. This is a reduction from the 180 days that had previously been the data retention period. The data retention period is how long ED retains files in the system that are transmitted via the SAIG.
EA – Posted May 16, 2013– (Loans). 150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit: Electronic Announcement #1 – Interim Final Regulations Published
This announcement is the first in a new series to be coming in the near future pertaining to the legislation and regulations related to the 150% limit on Subsidized Direct Loans. This particular EA highlights the publication of interim final regulations implementing the legislation, training opportunities that ED will provide related to the 150% limit, and a synopsis of ED’s responsibilities related to the 150% limit, as well as the school’s responsibilities. The school responsibilities are highlighted by immediate actions, as well as things being required later for 2014-2015.
EA – Posted May 17, 2013– (General). TPD Discharge Information – Changes to Total and Permanent Disability Regulations Effective July 1, 2013
The Financial Aid community is alerted to the most recent update to the changes in the Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) regulations that went into effect on July 1, 2013. The changes in the regulations include the fact that all TPD applications must now be sent directly to the Department of Education rather than the loan holder or servicer. Only one application will be required for all loans that may be eligible for the TPD. An additional change in the regulation that will benefit borrowers is that an individual may now qualify for discharge if he or she is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and submits the applicable documentation. This EA also gives a high-level overview of the process for a TPD discharge.
Other key Electronic Announcements related to the TPD regulation and process changes were put forth on May 24th (addresses schools updating their Perkins Loan designee to receive TPD discharge information, etc.); two separate EAs on June 12th (the first highlights changes in processing that guaranty agencies must follow, but also informs of the change in process related to Veterans Disability Discharges; the second one provides the TPD discharge assignment procedures that Perkins Loan schools must follow as of July 1, 2013); and, June 20th [reminds of prior EAs since May 17 and stresses the need to update the school’s Perkins Loan designee to receive TPD discharge information via the TPD Loan Holder Notification (TPD LHN) File].
EA – Posted May 17, 2013– (OPE Announcements). Notice to Further Delay Implementation Date for Certain State Authorization Regulations
ED makes known the Notice that will appear in the Federal Register regarding the delay of implementation of certain aspects of the State Authorization regulations. (The actual publication date of the Federal Register was May 21, 2013.) This specifically deals with the scenario of when an institution’s State does not yet have processes in place that would allow for an institution to meet the requirements of 34 CFR 600.9(a) and (b). The delayed effective date of implementation is now set to be July 1, 2014 for this component of the regulations. In order for a school to receive the deadline extension, the school must obtain from the State an explanation of how a one-year extension will permit the State to comply with the modified 34 CFR 600.9.
EA – Posted May 28, 2013– (General). Net Price Calculator Template Update and Updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In this announcement ED reminds the financial aid community of the updated template available at the Net Price Calculator Information Center as part of ED’s IPEDS Web site. This updated template, available since February (see prior Dear Colleague Letter GEN-13-07), allows for the input of 2011-2012 data, which is the most recently completed award year’s data that is available. (Typically, ED is scheduled to update the template in January of each year. ED’s guidance has been that schools should update their NPC within 30 days of when ED posts the updated template.) This EA also informs that the FAQs on the Net Price Calculator Web site have been updated. It is important to stay abreast of the newest responses to questions presented by reviewing these latest updates.
EA – Posted May 29, 2013– (General). Implementation of Changes to the Clery Act by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
ED reminds institutions of the changes in the reporting of crime statistics as a result of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 that was signed into law on March 7, 2013. These changes are subject to negotiated rulemaking for the implementing regulations. The first Annual Security Report for which the new required information must be included will be the report due October 1, 2014. However, ED states that schools should make a good faith effort to comply with the statutory requirements in accordance with the effective date of the law. The years for which the new data will cover in the first affected Annual Security Report will be 2011, 2012, and 2013. Some of the new data to be included will be incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, as well as providing with the report copies of certain policies, procedures, and programs pertaining to these crimes. Schools should review this EA and the related Notice linked to in the announcement and plan for the upcoming changes.
EA – Posted June 20, 2013– (General). 150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit: Electronic Announcement #2 – Phase One of COD System Changes Scheduled for June 28-30, 2013
This EA points out the changes to COD and NSLDS that occurred over the weekend of June 28-20, 2013 that are important for the implementation of the 150% Direct Subsidized Loan limit. In this first phase of changes, COD is modified to identify for schools first-time borrowers who are impacted by the 150% limit. This enables schools to be able to provide the required enhanced loan entrance counseling required by new regulations associated with this new 150% limit. To assist schools in identifying affected students, a new field—the Subsidized Usage Limit Applies (SULA) field—is added in COD. The SULA field identifies first-time borrowers with no Direct Loan (or older FFELP Loan) outstanding balance at the time the student is scheduled to receive a first DL Subsidized or Unsubsidized disbursement on or after July 1, 2013. Additional items addressed in this EA include new warning edits and system reports available to assist financial aid administrators.
EA – Posted June 25, 2013– (General). Overview of July and September 2013 Enhancements to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Web
The financial aid community is informed of enhancements that are being made in the FAFSA on the Web (FOTW). In July, ED has updated the 2012-2013 corrections deadline to accurately state that the deadline is September 21, 2013 rather than the previously displayed date of September 24, 2013. Additionally, the application and correction entry screens are being enhanced to dynamically display the correct IRS tax form line number associated with the question being asked. The numbers shown will be dependent upon the tax filing status the applicant indicates is filed. Further enhancements planned for September will include the ability of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import to the FAFSA the total “Income Earned from Work” for those with marital statuses of single, divorced, separated, or widowed. If the marital status is married/re-married, the “Income Earned from Work” field will pull in the total figure, but will not populate the fields. The figure will be in a display-only box. The student and/or parent will then have to appropriately allocate the correct amount of the total that is applicable to each wage earner. There are also a number of other items being enhanced and thus, schools will want to review this EA carefully.
EA – Posted June 27, 2013– (General). Guidance on the Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used Dispute Escalation Process
Guidance is given in this posting that relates to situations when a school may dispute a student’s Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU) as it is reported in COD. Schools are also reminded that the reporting timeframe for disbursements and adjustments was changed from 30 days to 15 days for all disbursements and adjustments made on or after April 1, 2013. The timely reporting of the transactions helps to ensure accurate Pell LEU data in COD and thus lessen the need to dispute data reported in COD. It is important to note that the student’s current school is the school typically responsible for resolving discrepant or disputed data with a student’s prior school. Part of the dispute process may include an escalation. ED provided an attachment to this EA that outlines the steps for dispute and escalation of the dispute if necessary.