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Latest from FSA: Department of Education Releases CDRs

September 28, 2016

FSA recently announced that the Department of Education distributed the FY 2013 3-Year official cohort default rate (CDR) packages on September 26, 2016. The rates are scheduled for public release on September 28, 2016.

To help schools manage this information, FSA offers information about the distribution of the official rates and the appeal process in its announcement.

For more information, including details on downloading eCDR packages, check out FSA’s original announcement.

Bringing Educational Dreams to Life

September 23, 2016

s059qdgbogAt Nelnet, helping families achieve their educational goals is not just a dream; it’s a reality. In line with our core values, Nelnet’s charitable efforts are centered around building a more educated and fiscally responsible world.

This summer, Nelnet associates participated in the Good Starts Here campaign for the United Way. A large portion of the money raised will go toward supporting educational advancement in the communities in which Nelnet associates work.

“One of the primary focus areas for United Way across the country is education,” Susan Hoover, United Way Coordinator at Nelnet, said. “Focusing on academic achievement early in a child’s educational career leads to learning and opportunities for better employment over a lifetime. By supporting United Way, Nelnet is supporting pre-K programs, family literacy, summer enrichment, workforce development and mentoring.”

In addition to raising funds to help further these community goals, many associates joined together on June 21 for the United Way Day of Action. On this day, associates volunteered at educational institutions across Lincoln.

Nelnet associate Jackie Green, along with colleagues, spent the day at the Malone Community Center reading to school-age children.

“During our time together, we were able to share about how reading helps us in our jobs and how it helped us in school and college,” Jackie said. “I believe this kind of exposure and interaction helps to support what parents and teachers tell their children in the home and at school.”

From first-hand experience, Nelnet knows that an important step to building a more educated and fiscally responsible world begins with higher education. That is why, for more than a decade, the Nelnet Scholars program has been an important focus for the Nelnet Foundation.

Nelnet Scholars grants scholarships to children of Nelnet associates to help begin or continue higher education. During the last school year, the Nelnet foundation donated more than $90,000 in scholarships. This year, 15 children of associates will receive scholarships through Nelnet.

“As a company with such a large focus on making educational dreams a reality, we wanted to make educating the children of associates a priority,” Ben Kiser, Managing Director of Communication Services and President of the Nelnet Foundation, said. “Through Nelnet Scholars, we’ve helped more than 100 families access education.”

One of the 2016-2017 recipients is Alex Stogdill, the son of the Traffic Supervisor for Nelnet Communications, Ron Stogdill. Alex is entering his sophomore year at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska, where he plays football and is studying biology.

“I hope to attend medical school after receiving a biology degree from Hastings, and the Nelnet Scholars Program scholarship is playing an important part in providing me a foundation to achieve that goal,” Alex said. “College has allowed me to sample the realities that life has to offer. I have had to step out of my comfort zone quite a bit and grow as a more well-rounded individual.”

Whether it’s through mentoring, volunteering, or raising money, Nelnet continues to encourage its associates and the community to share the vision of a world that never stops learning.

3 FAFSA Resources for Your Students

September 22, 2016

092216October is near, and with it comes the new FAFSA submission date. Students may begin submitting FAFSAs for 2017-18 as early as October 1, 2016. But will they be ready? Today we offer three resources to help your students prepare to submit their FAFSAs.

For students unsure of what documents they will need or clueless when it comes to dependency status, FSA has them covered. Through their website, they offer a load of good tips for filling out the FAFSA. Their intuitive online library is easy to search and can help ease many of the frustrations than can accompany “FAFSA time.”

Students can sneak a peek of their estimated federal student aid through FAFSA4caster. This free calculator is recommended for any student who is not ready to file a FAFSA – from adults down to middle school students. FAFSA4caster uses the student’s answers to a variety of financial and other questions to estimate federal student aid eligibility.

What happens once a student submits his or her FAFSA? We offer answers through our infographic “The Life of a Student Loan.” Available through our library, the infographic illustrates the student loan process, from planning for college to post-college and beyond.

The changes to the FAFSA process allow students to submit their FAFSAs earlier than ever before. We’re excited about this change, and we’re always ready to help. If you have any questions about the new process – or anything else for that matter – please reach out to us.

Ask a Fed:Verification, GE, Pell Recalcs, and More

September 19, 2016

Federal Training Officer David Bartnicki recently provided these updates.bartnicki


ED posted an electronic announcement on July 29, 2016 providing schools with the suggested text for the 2017-18 processing year. The suggested text may be used by schools in developing their verification documentation. Please remember, however, that schools must use the exact language provided in the ‘Statement of Educational Purpose’ in APPENDIX A for students who are placed in Verification Tracking Groups V4 or V5.

In addition, ED published the long awaited GEN-16-14 Dear Colleague Letter that addresses how ED will handle 2015 tax and income information differences between 2016-17 and 2017-18. CPS will identify conflicting information between two years that once resolved would have significant impact on an EFC. If deemed conflicting information by ED, a C-flag will appear with a code of 399 ONLY on the 2017-18 ISIR. If no code 399 appears, the school is not required to resolve income and tax information, but normal conflicting information rules applies for other areas (i.e. citzenship, etc.). When comparing ISIRs, any required adjustments must be corrected and any potential overpayments resolved. Please see GEN-16-14 for more information.

Third-Party Servicers

Many of you have asked questions about what constitutes a third-party servicer for Title IV purposes, and if you have to report certain entities to ED as a third-party servicer. In addition, several businesses have asked me if their services would cause them to be deemed a third-party servicer by ED. I am happy to announce that ED recently provided GEN-16-15 which contains over 20 Q&As addressing common issues related to third-party servicers.

The DCL provides the following information:

  • Key definitions, including a chart with examples of functions and services that are or are not considered to be 3rd party servicing
  • Servicers cannot be located outside the U.S. or owned by non-U.S. citizens/nationals or permanent residents
  • Information on what constitutes working on behalf of an institution
  • Compensation not required to be a 3rd party servicer
  • Written contracts between school and 3rd parties servicers are required
  • Third-party servicer contract requirements and restrictions
  • Notification requirements to ED
  • Data protection requirements (PII)
  • Third-party servicer audit and audit letter requirements and timeframes

For more information, please review GEN-16-15.

Campus Policing

GEN-16-17 provides information and resources to ensure schools are properly policing campuses, adhering to Cleary Act requirements and meeting all Civil Rights obligations. The DCL contains links to the updated Department’s Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, the President’s Task Force Report, plus several other websites and contact information. We remind schools that the Department’s Campus Security webpage can be found at For more information, please review GEN-16-17.


DON’T FORGET – as mentioned in the July 25, 2016 electronic announcement, the eCampus-Based application for the Fiscal Operations Report for 2015-2016 and Application to Participate for 2017-2018 (FISAP) are now available on the eCampus-Based (eCB) website. The deadline for the electronic submission of the FISAP is 11:59 P.M. (ET) on September 30, 2016.

Any questions should be directed to the Campus-Based Call Center – 877-801-7168.

Gainful Employment

Please remember that all schools with GE programs need to report their 2015-16 program and student GE data by October 1, 2016. To assist with this process, ED posted an electronic announcement on September 13, 2016 – GE electronic announcement #89.

The EA contains information and tips for reporting 2015-16 GE data by October 1, 2016 and correcting previously submitted data. Tips on reporting GE data include:

  • Private loans, tuition/fees, books/supplies/equipment
  • Institutional debt
  • Changing CIP codes
  • Adding new programs

Please note: GE Completers List corrections approved by ED should be corrected by the institution by October 1, 2016. The GE Completer List correction process does NOT update the GE records originally submitted to NSLDS.

In addition, as mentioned in the August 31, 2016 electronic announcement #87, the program tracking functionality in NSLDS has been removed. For this reporting cycle schools should review disbursement records sent to the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System, enrollment records sent to NSLDS, and their GE certifications that were submitted to FSA’s School Participation Division to ensure all required GE reporting is done by October 1, 2016.

ITT Students

Lots of schools are calling me asking for information about helping ITT students. We appreciate all of your efforts to assist these students. ED posted an electronic announcement on September 15, 2016 with our most recent guidance, links, websites and contact information surrounding the recent ITT closures.

Pell Recalculations and Modules

Policy recently provided guidance surrounding Pell recalculation policies and modules that I wanted to share.

In general, an institution can only disburse Pell Grant funds for classes that a student has started. The institution may have a policy to recalculate a student’s enrollment status when the number of classes in which a student is enrolled within the term (see 34 CFR 690.80(b)(1)). The policy must be written and needs to be consistent for increases or decreases.

There are two general concepts that apply to recalculation policies and programs offered in modules:

  1. If an institution provides a program offered in modules, the institution can choose to maintain a recalculation policy that applies to coursework within a given module, or it can choose to maintain a recalculation policy that applies regardless of whether the student enrolls during a given module;
  2. If the institution maintains a recalculation policy that is specific to coursework in a module, that recalculation policy is not taken into account unless the student begins attendance in at least one course during the module to which the recalculation policy applies.

Therefore, if an institution maintains a recalculation policy that provides for recalculation dates that are specific to modules within a payment period, the recalculation policy only applies to modules in which a student has begun attendance. However, if an institution’s policy does not specify that a recalculation date is specific to a module, and simply specifies multiple recalculation dates within a payment period, then a student’s Pell Grant enrollment status must be reviewed and adjusted at each recalculation date regardless of whether the student enrolls in coursework during a module.

As always, if any recalculation date does apply, on that date the school must take into account all adjustments to the enrollment status, both increases and decreases, up to that point.

Student Complaints

FSA recently launched a new online feedback system. The new online portal will allow students, parents, borrowers, and others to:

  • Submit complaints and compliments
  • Report allegations of suspicious activity related to their experience with federal student aid programs
  • Receive timely, meaningful resolution to their issues

The feedback system can be found at If any students want to file a complaint with the Department, please direct them to our new online feedback system.

I hope to see many of you on the fall conference and workshop circuit as I travel throughout the southeast.

Latest from FSA: 7 Myths About the 2017-18 FAFSA Debunked

September 15, 2016


Do students need to update their 2017-18 FAFSA with 2016 data after they file taxes?

Can they choose which year’s tax information they provide on the FAFSA?

Are students allowed to reuse their 2016-17 FAFSA, since their 2015 income and tax information will be the same?

The changes to the FAFSA process have spurned a variety of questions from students, and a few myths as a result. FSA recently set out to dispel a few of those myths via blog post.

This post is perfect for students and parents who have questions about the new FAFSA process. Please feel free to pass it along.

For the full post, check out the HomeRoom blog.


Latest from FSA: FY 2013 3-Year CDRs to be Distributed in Late September

September 8, 2016

FSA announced today that it plans to release Cohort Default Rates on Monday, September 26, 2016. Schools enrolled in the Electronic Cohort Default rate (eCDR) process will receive their CDR and accompanying documentation via their Student Aid Internet Gateway mailbox. Schools not enrolled in eCDR will be able to download their CDRs from NSLDS.

For more information, please see FSA’s original announcement.

Latest from FSA: Learn on Your Schedule with Three New Quick Takes Videos

September 6, 2016

09-06-16FSA recently published three new Quick Takes videos, designed to provide important training information on student aid topics in quick, digestible bites.

The three new videos cover the following topics:

  • What is a “Year” in Federal Student Aid?
  • Establishing Cost of Attendance
  • Ineligible to Eligible – The When and How (Student Eligibility)

All three video training sessions last less than 15 minutes, meaning they can fit into even the busiest schedules.

Check these videos out at or select the carousel slider on the home page that displays the Quick Takes video announcement.