Summary: This letter announces the availability of the National
Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to meet the
regulatory requirements for obtaining financial aid
transcript (FAT) information for purposes of determining
student eligibility for Federal Title IV student assistance.
I am pleased to announce that, beginning with the 1996-97 award
year, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) may be
used by postsecondary educational institutions to meet the regulatory
requirements for obtaining Financial Aid Transcript (FAT)
information for most Title IV student aid applicants.*1* The
NSLDS may be used for FAT purposes as described in the Question
& Answer (Q&A) pages that are enclosed. Schools are reminded
that they remain required to respond to requests for FAT information
from other institutions in accordance with Section 668.19(b), (c), and
(d) of the regulations.
With the exception of mid-year transfer students, using the
information from the NSLDS will allow schools to meet the
regulatory requirements for obtaining FAT information for those
Federal student aid applicants who have previously attended other
eligible postsecondary institutions. Schools may obtain FAT
information from the NSLDS through several methods, (each of
which is discussed in Q&A #22), including the Student Aid Report
(SAR) and the NSLDS History section of the Institutional Student
Information Record (ISIR). Once a school has obtained financial aid
history information from the NSLDS, including using the NSLDS
information included on a student's SAR or in the ISIR, it will not be
required to re-check the NSLDS prior to disbursing Title IV student
I wish to thank all data providers, including postsecondary
institutions, for their assistance and patience during the development
of the NSLDS. In addition to providing significant burden
reduction to schools and students by virtually eliminating the need or
schools to prepare paper FAT requests, the NSLDS will pre-screen
student aid applicants, simplify and enhance Student Status
Confirmation Report (SSCR) processing, track loan history
information, calculate default rates, and provide the Department
and others with a rich database for research and other analytical
The attached set of Q&As was developed by Department staff to
explain the use of the NSLDS as an alternative to the paper FAT
process. Although there is a great deal of detail provided in
the Q&As, we urge you to review all of the information provided so
you become familiar with the capabilities of the NSLDS and the
conditions under which the NSLDS can be used to obtain
information previously available only through the paper FAT
Included are the following enclosures to assist you in working with
- A sample of the SAR NSLDS Financial Aid History page.
- The record layout for the NSLDS Financial Aid History section
of the ISIR.
- The NSLDS documentation for the Financial Aid Transcript
(FAT) process which includes:
- A facsimile of two of the NSLDS FAT screens (Summary and
- The record description for the NSLDS FAT batch request file.
- The record description for the NSLDS FAT batch data file.
- A facsimile of the NSLDS FAT produced from the batch print
Finally, I want to remind you of the special security and privacy
issues related to school access to the NSLDS. In addition to the
normal issues of privacy and confidentiality related to all
information submitted by or about an applicant for Title IV aid,
access to the NSLDS by schools creates additional privacy and
security concerns. These are discussed in the Q&As beginning
with Q&A #56.
Again, I thank you for your support of our continuing efforts to
provide you and your students with the tools needed to simplify and
enhance the Federal student aid delivery system.
If you have further questions on accessing the NSLDS you may call
the NSLDS Customer Service Center at 1-800-999-8219, Monday
through Friday between the hours of 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM
(Eastern Time), Federal holidays excluded.
The Department's SFA Customer Support Inquiry Service staff is
available to answer other questions related to the use of data from the
NSLDS for FAT purposes. Staff members are available Monday
through Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM (Eastern
Time) at 1-800-433-7327. After hours calls will be accepted by an
automated voice response system. Callers leaving their name and
phone number will receive a return call the next business day.
You may FAX an inquiry to the Customer Support Inquiry Service
at (202) 260-4199.
Elizabeth M. Hicks
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Student Financial Assistance Programs
*1* The use of the NSLDS for students transferring into a school
during an award year, as opposed to those that transfer into a new
award year, is limited. Specific guidance on the use of the NSLDS
for mid-year transfers is included in the enclosed set of Q&As.