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Rob Wright – (813) 435-6227
Pamela Notemyer Rogers – (617) 967-7955

Note: Fed-Updates newsletter updates are excerpts from original announcements posted on the IFAP websitePlease review the entire update by clicking the link included with each posting. We are not able to include all Federal updates and deadlines, but you’ll find additional information on the IFAP website – including Electronic Announcements and Dear Colleague Letters back to thru 2019. Important Reminder: Deadlines and event dates noted in our newsletters are subject to change as determined by the Department of Education.

 

Mandatory Software Upgrade – Deadline Extension to June 5, 2021 to Maintain Access to the SAIG (EA ID: GENERAL-21-08): To comply with this federal mandate, a new version of SAIG software—TDClient or EDconnect—that supports TLS 1.2 must be installed by all users. To allow users additional time to complete this required software upgrade, we are extending the deadline to upgrade from April 17, 2021 to June 5, 2021. After June 5, older versions of TDClient and EDconnect will no longer connect to the SAIG and cannot be used to send/receive transmissions. Please review the February 12, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

Direct Loan Closeout Information for 2019–20 Program Year (EA ID: DL-21-01): The Direct Loan established data submission (closeout) deadline for the 2019–20 Program Year is Friday, July 30, 2021. This is the last processing day of the program year, so all school data must be received and accepted by this date to be included in a school’s final Ending Cash Balance for the year. Please review the February 5, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

Designation as a Title III or Title V Institution and Waiver of the Non-Federal Share Requirement for FWS and FSEOG (EA ID: CB-21-04):  This announcement provides the information regarding the designation of Title III or Title V status for institutions and the resulting waiver of the non-federal share requirements for the Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) programs. Please review the March 5, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

Update on the use of “Professional Judgment” by Financial Aid Administrators: This letter reminds financial aid administrators of their ability to exercise documented professional judgment when determining eligibility of students for federal student aid and encourages aid administrators to consider the special circumstances that may arise for students and families during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially as they relate to unemployment or reduction in work. Please review the January 29, 2021, Dear Colleague Letter for additional information.

First Pell Grant Administrative Cost Allowance (ACA) Payments for 2020–21 Award Year (EA ID: GRANTS-21-02): The first ACA payment for the 2020–21 Award Year is based on records that the COD System has processed from the start of the Pell Grant 2020–21 Award Year up to the date that we process the first ACA payments for the 2020–21 Award Year. We began processing the Pell Grant ACA payments for all schools on Feb. 25, 2021. Please review the March 1, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

Operational Implementation Guidance – Federal Student Aid’s Implementation of 2021–22 Federal Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement Schedules (EA ID: GRANTS-21-03): This Electronic Announcement provides institutions with important information about the system, web, and software modifications we are making to reflect the 2021–22 Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant) payment and disbursement schedules, including changes we must implement to the Central Processing System (CPS), the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System, and the EDExpress for Windows software. Please review the March 4, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

Federal Pell Grant Program Reconciliation (EA ID: GRANTS-21-01):  In this announcement, we provide specific information to assist your school in reconciling the Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant) Program. Both the Financial Aid Office and Business Office should review the enclosed information. Please review the January 29, 2021 electronic announcement for additional information.

2021-2022 Federal Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement Schedules: Attached to this letter are both PDF and Excel versions of the Payment and Disbursement Schedules for determining Federal Pell Grant awards for the 2021-2022 award year (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022) for full-time, three-quarter-time, half-time, and less-than-half-time students.  All 2021-2022 Federal Pell Grant awards must be based on the attached schedules.  With the release of the 2021-2022 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) on October 1, 2020, the Department is providing the Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement Schedules so that institutions may inform students and their families of their potential eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant. Please review the January 22, 2021, Dear Colleague Letter for additional information.

COD System Operational Update – Reporting Deadlines and Reminders for CARES Act Relief, Coronavirus Indicator and R2T4 (EA ID: COD-21-01): This announcement provides a Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System update about reporting deadlines and related reminders for reporting disbursement information qualifying for CARES Act relief. Please review the January 22, 2021, electronic announcement.

Guidance on Accreditation and Eligibility Requirements for Distance Education (EA ID: OPE-21-06):  On August 31, 2020, we published a Federal Register notice concerning the rescission of guidance that was outdated. That notice announced that Dear Colleague Letter GEN-06-17, Institutional Accreditation for Distance Learning Programs, was rescinded.

Attached to this announcement is Department guidance to accrediting agencies and institutions about the rescission of Dear Colleague Letter GEN-06-17 and our requirements with respect to institutional eligibility for distance education, which currently are waived until after the national emergency related to COVID-19 ends. Please review the January 19, 2021 electronic announcement for additional information.

Issuance of Dear CPA Letter CPA-21-01, Extension of Site Visit Exemption During COVID-19 National Emergency (EA ID: GENERAL-21-03): On January 20, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General issued Dear CPA Letter CPA-21-01. The letter extends the audit site visit exemption provided in Dear CPA Letter CPA-20-01 by tying its expiration to the COVID-19 national emergency and provides the site visit exemption to foreign school audits and attestation engagements as well. Please review the January 22, 2021 electronic announcement for additional information.

Loan Servicing Information – Reporting Student Loan Interest Payments for 2020 (EA ID: LOANS-21-02): As tax time approaches, we want to share general information with the financial aid community about our reporting of student loan interest payments. If a borrower made federal student loan payments in 2020, the borrower may be eligible to deduct a portion of the interest paid on the borrower’s 2020 federal tax return. Student loan interest payments are reported to both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the borrower on IRS Form 1098-E, Student Loan Interest Statement. This January 29, 2021, electronic announcement provides information about reporting student interest for 2020.

Protecting Student Information – Compliance with CUI and GLBA: As instances of data and information breaches rise, it is vital that institutions of higher education (IHEs) protect Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) used in the administration of federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV, of the Higher Education Act, as amended1. FSA is finalizing the Campus Cybersecurity Program framework. A multi-year phased implementation will begin with a self-assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800–171 Rev. 2, Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems (NIST 800–171 Rev. 2) readiness and outreach activities. We are committed to fully advancing and encouraging all postsecondary institutions implementation of NIST 800-171 controls. This Electronic Announcement is meant to inform IHEs and their third-party servicers about upcoming activities to ensure compliance with NIST 800–171 Rev. 2. Please review the December 18, 2020, electronic announcement for additional information.

Streamlined Loan Death Discharges Options (EA ID: LOANS-21-04): This announcement is our designation under the death discharge regulations, of a specific NSLDS report, . . . as verification of a borrower or student’s death through an electronic database approved for use by the Secretary that can support the granting of a death discharge without further documentation. Please review the February 22, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

– March 05, 2021

IRS Data Retrieval Tool and Inaccurate $1 Adjusted Gross Income (EA ID: VERIF-21-01): Recently Federal Student Aid (FSA) has become aware of instances where applicants have completed a 2021–22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA©) form, used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to transfer their tax return information, and had their adjusted gross income (AGI) inaccurately reported as $1 for Title IV purposes. We were alerted to these instances after institutions questioned these $1 AGIs while resolving conflicting information or when providing financial aid counseling to the student. Please review the March 5, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

Next Gen FSA – FSA Partner Connect Website Launch Planned for Late March 2021 (EA ID: GENERAL-21-12): During the December 2020 virtual training conference, Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced that FSA Partner Connect—a new portal for our community of institutional and financial partners—will launch in spring 2021. We plan to launch the FSA Partner Connect site at fsapartners.ed.gov on March 28, 2021.

 

In this announcement we provide background about FSA Partner Connect and a brief summary of the new features that will be available to the community. We also provide preliminary information about our training and communication plans for the next several weeks. Please review the February 25, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

Next Gen FSA – StudentAid.gov Website Enhancements Starting February 2021 (EA ID: GENERAL-21-10): Forward progress continues on the Next Gen FSA initiative and StudentAid.gov, our single front door on the web for students, parents, and borrowers. This announcement summarizes new and updated features that are now available. Please review the February 22, 2021, electronic announcement for additional information.

RESOURCES

Federal Register:

Federal School Code List:


Federal Student Aid Handbook:

 

Loan Rates:

Department of Education:

NASFAA:

Other helpful information pages: The following are a few helpful links to information pages available on the IFAP websiteEarly FAFSA, Grant and Direct Loan (COD) Processing InformationTraining Resources, and iLibrary, Federal Registers, and NSLDS reference materials and more. 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

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