Fed-Updates Financial Aid Newsletter – March 19, 2020

Newsletter topics: FA Solutions Update from our CEOGuidance -Interruptions of study due to Coronavirus, Site Visit Exemption During COVID-19 Outbreak, FWS Community Service Waiver Requests, First Pell Grant Administrative Cost Allowance Payments, Federal Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement Schedules, New Form – Forgery Loan Discharge Process for ED-held Loans,  Additional StudentAid.gov Website Features, Closeout of all 2018–19 Campus-Based program awards, CPS Reprocessing on March 10, 2020, Enforcement of Cybersecurity Requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment – April webinar, Borrower Defense to Loan Repayment Universal Form, and various resources

Note: Fed-Updates newsletter updates are excerpts from original announcements posted on the IFAP website. Please review the entire update by clicking the link included with each posting. We’re not able to include all Federal updates and deadlines, but you’ll find additional information on the IFAP website. Reminder: Deadlines and event dates are noted in our newsletters are subject to change as determined by the Department of Education.

FA Solutions – Update from our CEO – When FA Solutions was first established, we had the goal of being able to offer complete redundancy of coverage in the event Florida experienced a hurricane, or some other natural disaster. To do this, we invested heavily in cloud based technology to allow for remote staffing, and the ability for our employees to travel to unaffected areas if necessary so that work could be adequately performed, and service to students could continue with limited, or no interruption. We are happy to report that this has been heavily tested and fully operational. What we didn’t realize at the time was that together we built a business model that would be able to offer consistency of coverage even during a national emergency, such as the one being experienced today. As of now, FA Solutions expects full-service operations to continue without interruption. This includes the FA Solutions processing and leadership teams, as well as Student Communication through our Student Experience Center. We do ask that each of our school partners stay in complete communication with our teams, so that updates from both sides happen consistently. You are important to us!

Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement – Preliminary Implementation in Late April 2020, Borrower Completion Requirement Delayed until 2021: In response to school concerns and the unprecedented disruptions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), Federal Student Aid will be delaying the requirement that borrowers complete the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement prior to disbursement for the 2020–21 Award Year. Instead, the borrower completion requirement will begin with the 2021–22 Award Year. Please review the March 27, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19): This electronic announcement addresses concerns expressed by higher education leaders regarding how they should comply with Title IV, Higher Education Act (HEA) policies for students whose activities are impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19), either directly because the student is ill or quarantined, or indirectly because the student was recalled from travel-abroad experiences, can no longer participate in internships or clinical rotations, or attends a campus that temporarily suspended operations. This information provides flexibilities for schools that are working to help students complete the term in which they are currently enrolled. Please review the March 5, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information. This electronic announcement was updated on April 3, 2020.

Issuance of Dear CPA Letter CPA-20-01, Site Visit Exemption During COVID-19 Outbreak: On March 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General issued Dear CPA Letter CPA-20-01. This letter provides for a limited exemption from the site visit requirement during the outbreak of COVID-19 “Coronavirus” for audits conducted using the September 2016 Audit Guide, Guide for Audits of Proprietary Schools and For Compliance Attestation Engagements of Third-Party Servicers Administering Title IV Programs (Audit Guide). The limited exemption described in this letter applies to proprietary school audits of fiscal years ending between September 30, 2019 and December 31, 2019, that are conducted using the Audit Guide. The letter, which is available on the OIG Non-Federal Audit website, should be referred to for additional details. Please review the March 11, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

2020–21 Federal Work-Study Program Community Service Waiver Requests: Section 443(b)(2)(A) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) and the corresponding regulations at 34 CFR 675.18(g) set forth the Federal Work Study (FWS) community service expenditure requirements that a school must meet unless the school is granted a waiver from the Secretary. This electronic announcement explains how a school requests a waiver of the community service expenditure requirements under the FWS Program for the 2020–21 Award Year. The deadline for electronic submission of a school’s 2020–21 FWS Community Service waiver request is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time (ET) on Monday, April 20, 2020. Completed submissions must be accepted by the COD system by midnight ET. A waiver request that is received after April 20, 2020 will not be considered. Please review the March 16, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

First Pell Grant Administrative Cost Allowance Payments for 2019–20 Award Year: The Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant) regulations at 34 CFR 690.10 provide for an Administrative Cost Allowance (ACA) payment of $5.00 to each participating school for each student who receives a Pell Grant at that school for an award year. These funds may be used only to defray the costs of administering the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Work-Study programs. This electronic announcement reviews how these first payments for the 2019-20 Award Year were determined. Processing of these payments began on February 27, 2020. Please review the March 2, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

Operational Implementation Guidance – Federal Student Aid’s Implementation of 2020–21 Federal Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement Schedules: This Electronic Announcement provides institutions with important information about the system, web, and software modifications that are being made to reflect the 2020–21 Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant) payment and disbursement schedules, including changes that must be implemented to the Central Processing System (CPS), the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System, and the EDExpress for Windows software. Please review the March 4, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

New Form for Forgery Loan Discharge Process for ED-held Loans: The purpose of this electronic announcement is to provide Title IV, Federal student loan program participants with information concerning the existing false signature/identity theft discharge process used by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) and to explain the Department’s new process for addressing claims made by individuals that loans allegedly taken out by them are unenforceable due to forgery of their signatures. A copy of the new form that the Department will use to implement this process is attached and Title IV loan holders are encouraged to create a similar discharge process for loans that they hold if they have not already done so. Please review the February 12, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

Next Gen FSA – Additional StudentAid.gov Website Features Starting February 2020: As explained in a December 13, 2019 Electronic Announcement, Federal Student Aid (FSA) completed a first step in the Next Gen FSA initiative and consolidated several student-facing websites into an enhanced version of StudentAid.gov, FSA’s single front door on the web for students, parents, and borrowers. On February 23, 2020, additional features were introduced designed to promote financial literacy for borrowers and improve the information and self-service tools available to FSA’s customers. Please review the February 21, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

Closeout of all 2018–19 Campus-Based program awards has been completed based on the data submitted on the Fiscal Operations Report for 2018–19 and Application to Participate for 2020–21 (FISAP): The 2018–19 awards closeout for the Campus-Based programs is explained in this electronic announcement, which also includes important information regarding the notification process related to the awards closeout. Please review the February 21, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

CPS Reprocessing on March 10, 2020 for 2019-20 Application and Correction Records with Blank DHS Match Results: On March 10, 2020, the Central Processing System (CPS) reprocessed a small group of 2019-20 application and correction records with blank Department of Homeland Security (DHS) match results due to a processing error on February 27, 2020. Please review the March 10, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.

Enforcement of Cybersecurity Requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act: The Department of Education (Department) continues to take steps to ensure the confidentiality, security, and integrity of student and parent information related to the federal student aid programs. Protecting that information is a shared obligation among the Department, institutions, third-party servicers, and other partners in the financial aid system. We expect all of our partners to maintain strong security policies and effective internal controls to prevent unauthorized access or disclosure of sensitive information.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), which was signed into law on November 12, 1999, created a requirement that financial institutions must have certain information privacy protections and safeguards in place. This announcement explains the Department’s procedures for enforcing those requirements and the potential consequences for institutions or servicers that fail to comply. Please review the February 28, 2020 electronic announcement for additional information.


2020-3-06 – Live Internet Webinar – Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment – April 2 and April 23, 2020 (This webinar series has been cancelled as explained here:  https://ifap.ed.gov/dear-colleague-letters/ANN2004)


2020-03-04 – Comment Request; Borrower Defense to Loan Repayment Universal Form


2020-02-24 – FY 2017 Draft Cohort Default Rates Distributed February 24, 2020

2020-02-19 – Federal Student Aid Posts New Reports to FSA Data Center

2020-03-06 – SAIG Message Class File

2020-02-14 – NSLDS Death Status Conflict Report Extract File Layout for Data Providers (DSCGA1 & DSCGA2)

2020-02-14 – NSLDS Death Status Conflict Report Extract File Layout for Lenders/Lender Servicers (DSCLN1)

2020-02-14 – GA-2020-02: Death Status Conflict Report, Website Enhancements, and Record Layout

2020-02-13 – NSLDS GA Loan Discharge Submittal Template and Cover Letter

2020-03-06 – NSLDS GA TEF File Text File


Other helpful information pages  on the IFAP website: Grant and Direct Loan (COD) Processing Information, Gainful Employment, Cash Management, Processing Resources, FAFSA and the IRS DRT, Training Resources, and iLibrary, which includes many resources, such as a consolidated list of Electronic AnnouncementsDear Colleague Letters, and Federal Registers. Please review the IFAP website for additional guidance, resources, deadlines, and information related to the administration and processing of Title IV federal student aid.

Thank you for taking the time to review our newsletter!

Rob Wright

Disclaimer of Liability: Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in FA Solutions’ newsletters. However, FA Solutions makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of the newsletters and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of its newsletters. Although FA Solutions may include links providing direct access to other Internet resources, including Websites, FA Solutions is not responsible for the accuracy or content of information contained in these sites.