Part: 2 - - The Application Process
SectionTitle: The Application Process
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Federal law requires the Department to ensure that students can apply for federal aid without paying a fee. To be considered for most of the federal student aid programs (such as Federal Pell Grants, Direct Loans, and Federal Stafford Loans), a student must fill out the FAFSA, which collects financial and other information used to calculate the EFC.
Currently, the Department contracts for two different kinds of processing services. The FAFSA Processor inputs students' FAFSA data and transmits that data to the Central Processing System (CPS). The CPS uses this information to calculate the EFC and to produce an output document (or record) reporting that EFC. The student will receive an output document, either the Student Aid Report (SAR) or SAR Information Acknowledgement, from the CPS within four weeks of submitting the FAFSA.
A school gets the student's output record electronically, in the form of an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR). Only a school listed in Part G of a student'S FAFSA will automatically receive an ISIR through either the Applicant Data Service (on tape or cartridge) or through the Electronic Data Exchange (EDE). (See page 12 for information on EDE.) A student can list up to six schools in Part G.
The application processing cycle lasts 18 months. For the 1998-99 award year, application processing began in January 1998, and applications for that year will be accepted until June 30, 1999. However, schools should advise students to submit their applications as soon as possible.
Dear Colleague Letters and Action Letters sent to schools each year provide further information on deadlines and procedures. These letters, as well as other information from the Department, are available on the World Wide Web (the web) at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/Professionals. The Department also posts system updates and technical guidance announcements on the SFA Bulletin Board System (BBS). In addition, the SFA BBS has Dear Colleague Letters, Title IV Federal Registers, and the Federal Student Financial Aid Handbook. To order free BBS software for dial-in access, an FAA should call 1-800/433-7327. The BBS is available at http://sfa.ed.gov.