Posted Date: February 8, 2018

Author:  Federal Student Aid

Subject: Potential Government Closure - Federal Student Aid Processing and Customer Service Guidance

In the event of a closure of the federal government (more commonly referred to as a shutdown or furlough), there will be minimal impact on students, borrowers, schools, lenders, and guaranty agencies and their ability to participate in the Title IV Programs. While our federal offices, including those located in the regional cities, would be closed during a federal government closure, the majority of our Title IV processors, contact centers, and websites will remain operational. In this announcement, we provide operational guidance about Federal Student Aid's communications, customer service contact centers, scheduled system outages, processing systems, and training events should a federal government shutdown occur.

If a federal government shutdown occurs, we will operate as follows:

Communications

We will provide updated information related to the shutdown on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website, as feasible. We will not post routine guidance. Please monitor the IFAP website for further information, particularly following the reopening of the federal government.

Many of our student-facing websites will be updated with general shutdown information for students, parents, and borrowers, including StudentAid.gov. Users will be able to log in to My Federal Student Aid on StudentAid.gov.

Customer Service Contact Centers

Most of our customer service contact centers will remain open. For complete information regarding the operational status of the various customer service contact centers, refer to the attachment to this announcement titled "Operational Status of Customer Service Contact Centers during Federal Government Closure."

Federal Student Aid Feedback System and FSA Ombudsman

As noted in the February 7, 2018 Electronic Announcement, the Federal Student Aid Feedback System will be unavailable for an extended period of time during the weekend of February 9-11 due to upgrades being made to the system. After the conclusion of the outage period on Sunday, February 11, the Federal Student Aid Feedback System will be available for users to file a complaint, report suspicious activity, or provide positive feedback. The FSA Ombudsman will also be available for customers to request informal dispute resolution assistance. However, resolution of pending and new cases may be delayed due to limited federal staffing.

Scheduled System Outages

Scheduled system outages and other weekly maintenance outages will occur, as planned.

Processing Systems

Campus-Based Program Processing

Schools can continue to make awards and disburse funds to students using their 2017–18 allocations.

As explained in a December 21, 2017 Electronic Announcement, as of February 6, 2018, the eCampus-Based (eCB) System is closed to schools, as we begin the transition of eCB business processes to the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System. After the federal government reopens, schools should monitor the IFAP website for additional Campus-Based System transition information.

As noted in the attachment to this announcement, the Campus-Based Call Center will be closed in the event of a shutdown.

The Perkins Loan Assignment System (PLAS) will remain operational, and authorized users will be able to submit assignments. Requests for user access will continue to be processed.

Central Processing System (CPS)

FAFSA.gov and FAFSA4caster will be operational for students and parents. FAA Access to CPS Online (including R2T4 on the Web) and the CPS Web Applications Demo System will be available to schools. CPS will accept data from schools and applicants and will process Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) and Student Aid Reports (SARs).

Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System

The COD System will continue to process Direct Loan promissory notes and will accept and process data from schools and send back responses/acknowledgments. Schools will be able to receive federal funds (see G5 information below). Users will be able to submit and retrieve data and access the COD Reports area of the COD Web site.

Borrowers and TEACH Grant recipients will be able to complete all actions and view correspondence on StudentLoans.gov.

Electronic Application for Approval to Participate in Federal Student Financial Aid Programs (E-App)

The E-App website will remain operational. 

Electronic Cohort Default Rate Appeals (eCDR Appeals)

The eCDR Appeals website will not be available to users. Challenges, adjustments, and appeals will not be processed until after the federal government reopens.

Federal Student Loan Servicing, Consolidation, and Debt Collection Systems

All federal student loan servicing, consolidation, and debt collection systems and related websites will remain operational.

There will be a delay in the funding process required to pay off underlying loans selected for inclusion in a Direct Consolidation Loan.

FSA ID

Students, parents, and borrowers may continue to create an FSA ID, as well as retrieve and edit account information on the FSA ID website.

G5

The G5 website will remain operational, and schools will be able to draw down funds.

HEAL Online Processing System (HOPS)

HOPS was transferred to the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) on September 29, 2017, and the transfer of all HOPS functionality to Federal Student Aid’s Virtual Data Center is complete. HEAL claims may be filed by lenders during a shutdown; however, there will be no claim processing until after the federal government reopens.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®)

The NSLDS Student Access website will be available to students and NSLDS Professional Access will be available to all authorized users. NSLDS users will be able to request and receive both automated and on-demand reports. Data providers will be able to submit information to NSLDS.

Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG)

The SAIG Enrollment website and the SAIG Mailbox Portal will be operational. Schools will be able to send and receive data using their SAIG mailbox.

Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge Processing

The Nelnet Total and Permanent Disability Servicer will process TPD applications, assignments, and referrals.

School Eligibility, Oversight and Monitoring

Schools can continue to submit eligibility actions using the E-App website: https://eligcert.ed.gov.

Compliance audits and financial statements can be submitted through the eZ-Audit website: https://ezaudit.ed.gov. All other inquiries can be sent to:

Any program reviews scheduled during a shutdown will be rescheduled. 

Lender/Guaranty Agency Processing Functions

FFEL Program lenders and guaranty agencies should maintain all operational activities, including the filing of claims and their review and payment. Federal Student Aid will accept for processing the Lender’s Interest and Special Allowance Request and Report (ED Form 799/LaRS). Guaranty Agencies will be able to submit the Guaranty Agency Financial Report (Form 2000) but they will not be reviewed for further processing.

Training Events

Any webinar or training workshop scheduled during the shutdown will be cancelled, including any Fundamentals of Federal Student Aid Administration training workshop that is scheduled during that time. If possible, we will notify affected participants through our registration system. Following the reopening of the federal government, we will provide information about rescheduled sessions through Training Announcements posted on the IFAP website.

Federal Student Aid staff will not be able to attend state and regional conferences in the event of a shutdown. Every effort will be made to contact the conference chair to inform them of the situation.

Contact Information

If a federal government shutdown does occur and you need assistance, contact the appropriate customer service contact center. As explained above, most of our contact centers will be open during a shutdown. Otherwise, we will be ready to serve you upon the federal government’s reopening.

Attachments/Enclosures:

Operational Status of Customer Service Contact Centers during Federal Government Closure in PDF Format, 302KB, 2 Pages

   

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