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ED Dear Colleague Letters

ED’s Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs) on IFAP (FIR-Q3-2013)

ED’s Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs) on IFAP – (listed by DCL category by date)

DCL – GEN-13-11: April 17, 2013 – Contact Information for the FSA Student Loan Ombudsman

Schools are updated with the latest contact information for the Department’s Student Loan Ombudsman.  This information is important for schools to use in their student loan entrance and exit counseling, as well as other general student consumer information.

DCL – GEN-13-12: April 29, 2013 – 2014-2015 FAFSA – Parental Information Collection

In this Dear Colleague Letter ED provides notice of significant changes in the collection of parental data on the FAFSA.  Historically, the FAFSA has requested parental information by indicating income earned, etc., of the father/step-father and mother/step-mother.  For 2014-2015, ED is implementing a change to collect parental FAFSA data based upon the dependent student’s legal parents (biological or adoptive) regardless of the parent’s marital status or gender, if those parents live together.  The resulting information will be used to determine the student’s EFC, and therefore, the student’s eligibility for Title IV aid.

DCL – GEN-13-13: May 10, 2013 – Reporting of Academic Year and Loan Period to COD for Direct Loans

The much awaited guidance from ED on how to handle various scenarios of enrollment as it relates to Direct Loan processing and the 150% Subsidized DL limit is provided in this DCL.  Specific examples are provided to illustrate the appropriate manner in which to report a student’s Direct Loan academic year and loan period dates to COD.  The letter stresses the critical importance of accurately reporting the applicable dates.  This includes the requirement to update previously reported loan period dates or academic year dates when a student’s attendance varies from what was originally anticipated when a loan was initially originated and reported to COD.  Schools will find it helpful to become very familiar with the content and principles outlined in this letter.

DCL – GEN-13-14: May 16, 2013 – Federal Pell Grant Duration of Eligibility and Lifetime Eligibility Used

Another area of importance for which the financial aid community had been waiting more detailed guidance is addressed in this important Dear Colleague Letter. Since the impact of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 that limited Federal Pell Grant eligibility to the equivalent of 12 semesters (6 years) actually began effective with 2012-2013, financial aid administrators had been awaiting additional guidance on the use of the Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU) in implementing the duration of a student’s eligibility.  This letter provides such guidance, to include examples of how to determine a student’s Pell award when the student has only limited duration of eligibility remaining, as well as how a student or school may dispute the accuracy of the Pell Grant LEU data in COD.  The letter also gives a thorough breakdown of how ED determines the “equivalent” of 12 semesters, as well as how to calculate a reduced Pell Grant award. Of further note, is that this letter re-emphasizes the change from 30 days to 15 days as the timeframe within which a school must report Pell disbursements, or changes to previously reported disbursements, to COD.  This change was effective with disbursements or adjustments made on or after April 1, 2013.  Schools will find the information in this letter to be extremely useful.

DCL – GEN-13-15: June 12, 2013 – Renewal of Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form (Updated June 21, 2013)

ED distributes information about the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) approval of a new Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification form (Self-Certification form).  This newly approved form does not contain any substantive changes from the prior Self-Certification form that had an expiration date of February 28, 2013.  The new Self-Certification form is attached to this DCL and is available for use.  The older, expired form has still been accepted thus far even though the expiration date had passed.  ED states that the older form may continue to be distributed by schools through July 31, 2013, and may be accepted through September 30, 2013.  (NOTE:  These dates have been changed by ED since the original release of the DCL and as reported in FAME’s “Did You Know?” blog on June 20, 2013.  The dates were extended to allow continued distribution of the older form longer than previously announced.)  After these dates, all schools that distribute the Self-Certification form must use the newly released version that became available on June 12, 2013.  The new form has an expiration date of May 31, 2016. For more details on the Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form, please see FAME’s “Did You Know?” blog posted June 20, 2013 and ED’s DCL referenced above.

DCL – GEN-13-16: June 13, 2013 – 2014-2015 Award Year:  FAFSA Information to be Verified and Acceptable Documentation

This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) offers additional information to that provided in the Federal Register on June 13, 2012 regarding 2014-2015 verification requirements and processes, etc.  Specifically, the letter highlights the required verification items for 2014-2015 and acceptable documentation for verification purposes.  Additionally, the DCL discusses the verification selection process and associated ISIR flags, describes pertinent details related to the use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and IRS Tax Return Transcripts.  Also of note is that the DCL highlights areas where ED’s guidance has changed or expanded, e.g., dealing with non-tax filers, documentation of high school completion if the student graduated in another country and is not able to obtain a copy of the high school diploma or transcript, changes in the verification tracking groups, etc.  The information in this letter is fundamental to schools being able to appropriately comply with the 2014-2015 verification requirements and should be well understood by all involved in the financial aid application and verification processes at their schools.

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