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Latest from FSA: Ask a FED

September 8, 2014

bartnickiFederal Training Officer David Bartnicki recently shared these updates:

150% DL Sub Limits and NSLDS reporting

A lot of schools have been asking questions around the new reporting requirements in NSLDS due to the 150% DL Sub Limits.  ED recently hosted two webinars providing detailed information on the new NSLDS Reporting Requirements.  I am pleased to announce that the recordings of those webinars are now available for viewing.  Please see Dear Colleague Letter ANN-14-16 (http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/ANN1416.html) for specific instructions and links to view the recordings.

Annual Security Reports

ED recently posted a Dear Colleague Letter (GEN-14-13) reminding institutions that the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) amended the Clery Act to require institutions to compile statistics for incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and to include certain policies, procedures, and programs pertaining to these incidents in their annual security reports (ASRs).

Please note: the statute requires institutions to include this new information in their annual security reports beginning with the ASR that must be provided to students, employees, and prospective students and employees by October 1, 2014.   Though regulations have not been finalized yet, institutions must make a good-faith effort to comply with the statutory provisions as written and should use the statute as the basis for revising or developing policies, procedures, and programs in advance of the ASR that must be issued by October 1, 2014.  Please make sure the appropriate authorities on campus are aware of these changes.

For additional information about specific policy changes and statistic gathering requirements, please see GEN-14-13 and the May 29, 2014 electronic announcement.

Additional Guidance on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

ED published two recent DCLs that provided further guidance around the Supreme Court’s ruling on the DOMA.  In GEN-14-14, ED clarified that a stepparent, who meets the definition of “parent” in 34 CFR 668.2, and who is of the same sex as the dependent student’s biological or adoptive parent, may apply for a Direct PLUS Loan if the stepparent and parent were legally married in any domestic or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes the relationship as a valid marriage, regardless of where the couple resides. Of course, any stepparent will have to meet the eligibility requirements for a parent to receive a Direct PLUS Loan as stated in 34 CFR 685.200(c).

In addition, GEN-14-14 also indicated that in circumstances where a borrower’s spouse information is taken into consideration for an income-driven repayment plan, the term “spouse” includes a same-sex spouse if the borrower and spouse were legally married in any domestic or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes the relationship as a valid marriage, regardless of where the couple resides.  This includes both Direct Loan and FFEL programs.

In GEN-14-15, ED discusses section 135 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) which requires a State that receives assistance under the HEA not to charge a member of the armed forces who is on active duty for more than 30 days and whose domicile or permanent duty station is in the State more than the in-State tuition rate for attendance at a public institution of higher education. Section 135 also provides that the spouse or dependent child of such a service member may not be charged more than the in-State tuition rate.  Under the HEA, based upon the Supreme Court’s ruling, a “spouse” to whom a public institution of higher education must extend in-State tuition benefits includes a spouse in a same-sex marriage who is married to a member of the armed forces, provided that the couple was legally married in any domestic or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes the relationship as a valid marriage.

For more detailed information, please see GEN-14-14 and GEN-14-15.

FISAP

For those schools participating in the Campus-Based programs, or for those schools contemplating getting into the Campus-Based programs, the application for the Fiscal Operations Report for 2013-2014 and Application to Participate for 2015-2016 (FISAP) is now available on the eCB Web site(cbfisap.ed.gov).  Please note: the deadline for the electronic submission of the FISAP is 11:59 P.M. (ET) on October 1, 2014. Transmission must be completed by 12:00 midnight on October 1, 2014.

Online training to complete the FISAP should be available on IFAP in the near future.

New Experimental Sites

On July 31, 2014, ED published a federal register notice outlining new experimental site initiatives that schools could apply to participate in where the Secretary can waive certain statutory or regulation requirements for schools to test alternative methods of administering Title IV funds.  The new experiments we would like schools to test are: prior learning assessments, competency-based education, limited direct assessment, and FWS for near-peer counseling.   I know schools often talk about prior learning or competency-based programs so now is your chance to help the Department understand these learning methods and how we might incorporate them into our Title IV rules and regulations.

Letters of application to participate in any of the proposed experiments described in the notice must be received by the Department no later than September 29, 2014 in order for an institution to receive priority to be considered for participation in the experiment.

For detailed information about the experiments and the application process, please see the July 31, 2014 federal register (http://ifap.ed.gov/fregisters/FR073114ExperimentalSites.html).

FSA Training Conference

I am happy to report that registration and lodging for the 2014 FSA Training Conference is now open at http://fsaconferences.ed.gov.   This year’s conference will be held in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, December 2 – December 5, 2014.  Conference hotels fill up fast, so, if you have not made your reservations, please consider doing so as soon as possible.

 

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