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Shoptalk 613, July 19, 2011

Industry Update

ED provides guidance on FAFSA information to be verified for the 2012-13 award year

The Program Integrity final rules published on October 29, 2010, include several new requirements for the verification process beginning with the 2012-13 award year. The new federal regulation §668.56(a) requires that ED publish an annual Federal Register notice announcing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) information that a school or an applicant selected for verification may be required to verify. On July 13, 2011, ED published the required notice for the 2012-13 award year, which includes the acceptable documentation to verify each FAFSA data item. To help schools, ED also published Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN-11-13 that provides additional details and also a summary of how the verification process will be implemented for the 2012-13 award year.

2012-13 verification selection process and ISIR flags
The October 29, 2010, final rules change the verification process by replacing a uniform approach — all five FAFSA items must be verified — and targeting verification to "those items reported on the FAFSA that are most prone to error, based on a set of criteria that identifies which items are most likely to contain erroneous data." The targeted selection of FAFSA information to be verified is intended to result in a more efficient and effective verification process.

However, this "customized FAFSA information selection approach" is not in place for the 2012-13 award year. Instead, ED will implement a variation of the current verification process. Student Aid Reports (SARs) and Institutional Student Information Reports (ISIRs) will continue to include one verification flag to indicate if an applicant has been selected for verification. If selected, the applicant must verify all applicable FAFSA data items listed in the notice.

FAFSA information for all applicants selected for verification
There are four non-income-related FAFSA items that must be verified for all selected applicants who complete a FAFSA on or after January 1, 2012, for the 2012-13 award year. These include:

  • Number of household members;
  • Number of household members enrolled at least half-time in eligible postsecondary institutions;
  • Food stamps-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), if receipt is indicated on the 2012-13 FAFSA; and
  • Child support paid, if reported on the 2012-13 FAFSA.

The following income-related information also must be verified depending on the selected applicant's tax-filing status:

For tax filers

  • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
  • U.S. income tax paid
  • Certain untaxed income, if reported on the 2012-13 FAFSA

For non-tax filers

  • Income earned from work

The FAFSA information must be verified for the applicant and, if applicable, his or her parents or spouse.

Acceptable documentation
As required by federal regulations in §668.57, the notice includes documentation that ED will accept to verify each of the FAFSA data items listed above. The DCL advises schools to carefully review the notice to determine what documentation, including information from the IRS Data Retrieval Process, is acceptable to meet the verification requirements.

IRS Data Retrieval Process
ED asks schools to encourage their FAFSA applicants to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process to help simplify the verification process. Applicants selected for verification who use the IRS Data Retrieval Process will have verified the FAFSA IRS information (i.e., AGI, taxes paid, and any of the applicable untaxed income items). No additional documentation is required if the transferred information is unchanged (02 IRS Request FLAG). However, if changes were made to the transferred information, or if the school has reason to believe that the transferred information is inaccurate, the applicant must provide other acceptable documentation.

IRS tax return transcript required
Under certain conditions, an applicant selected for verification will need to submit to the school an IRS Tax Return Transcript of 2011 tax year information for the applicant, his or her spouse, and his or her parents, as applicable. See DCL GEN-11-13 for a complete listing of such conditions. A transcript is not required to be signed by the tax filer, but ED encourages schools to obtain a signature. If a school is unable to obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript for an applicant selected for verification, ED permits the school to accept a signed copy of a 2011 income tax return. In this case, the school must document the reason for allowing an applicant to submit the tax return in lieu of the transcript.

For more information
In addition to carefully reviewing the Federal Register notice and DCL GEN-11-13, schools are encouraged to visit the Information for Financial Aid Professionals website for publications on the verification process, including the 2012-13 Application and Verification Guide. For questions, please contact TG's Customer Assistance team at (800) 845-6267, or send an email message to cust.assist@tgslc.org.

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ED introduces the Federal Loan School Support Team

To ensure that schools receive enhanced and ongoing program support for Direct loans and other federally owned loans (including FFELP and Federal Perkins loans that have been purchased by or assigned to ED), ED has created the Federal Loan School Support Team (FLSST). This team will offer assistance to schools and solicit feedback about processing, from origination through repayment. The team's primary duties include the following:

  • Provide assistance to schools in resolving complex Direct loan processing issues
  • Provide a line of communication through which schools offer feedback and discuss concerns related to the origination and disbursement processing of Direct loans and the servicing of all federally-owned loans
  • Solicit school input on system processing improvements, issue resolution, and training needs

The FLSST will augment, not replace, ED's established customer service call centers. Schools should continue to use the established customer service call centers to support their day-to-day operations. ED has assigned a FLSST point of contact to each school based on the school type and geographic region. Over the next few weeks, schools will receive an email from its FLSST point of contact.

For more information
For further details, view the July 14, 2011, electronic announcement. If you have questions about the FLSST or do not receive an email from a FLSST point of contact, send an email message to dlops@ed.gov.

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New Default Prevention Resource Information Web page available

In an electronic announcement dated July 14, 2011, ED publicized the availability of a new Default Prevention Resource Information Web page that will help schools with their default prevention efforts. ED has consolidated all of its delinquency and default prevention resources on this page to provide schools with a single, convenient location for information. Information is organized by these key subjects:

  • Encouraging successful repayment
  • Addressing delinquency
  • Reducing default risk
  • Delinquency reports
  • Cohort default rates
  • Training at your fingertips

Also included on the Default Prevention Resource Information Web page are helpful links to contact information for the following areas:

  • Default Prevention Assistance
  • Operations Performance Division (for CDR assistance)
  • Default Resolution Group
  • Loan Servicing Centers for Schools
  • Loan Servicing Centers for Students

In September 2005, ED published Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN-05-14, which provided schools with a sample default prevention and management plan. On July 15, 2011, ED added a note to GEN-05-14 advising schools that Federal Student Aid launched a new Default Prevention Resource Information Web page that links schools to this Sample Default Prevention and Management Plan. The note also states that various resource links in the sample plan are outdated and will not work properly. ED further notes that finalized updates to the sample plan will be posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website in the near future.

Learn More
To find out more, visit the Default Prevention Resource Information page. To learn more about TG's varied default prevention offerings, contact your TG account executive at (800) 252-9743, or send an email message to relationship.management@tgslc.org.

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ED provides update on SAIG Message Class file update

In electronic announcement #13 posted on July 15, 2011, ED informed schools that on July 22, 2011, it will send a message class "MESSAGTB" via the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) to all user mailboxes. This new message class table will include four new message classes that will be used in the reporting process for gainful employment. Information about the SAIG message classes for gainful employment (GE) reporting process can be referenced in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) Gainful Employment User Guide.

Electronic announcement #13 refers schools to another July 15, 2011, electronic announcement, which provides details on the transmission of the SAIG message class file and the message classes that will be used for reports associated with exit counseling for FFEL and Direct loan borrowers and for TEACH Grant recipients and gainful employment.

Contact information
If you have questions about the information contained in this announcement, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at (800) 330-5947, or by TDD/TTY at (800) 511-5806; or send an email message to CPSSAIG@ed.gov.

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