Posted Date: April 7, 2011

Author:  William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Issue Alert Update: New 2011-2012 Comment Codes Indicating Use of Asset Threshold Screening Question on FAFSA on the Web

As described in the March 11, 2011 and March 24, 2011 electronic announcements posted to the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site, we recently implemented several updates to the 2011-2012 Central Processing System (CPS) and reprocessed specific 2011-2012 Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) and Student Aid Report (SAR) transactions to address an issue that caused Reject 1 (i.e., missing asset information on the FAFSA) to be incorrectly set in some cases.

During our assessment of the Reject 1 issue, we also became aware of a related but unique issue that one or more proprietary software systems were experiencing with the blank field values for the asset questions, based on the new skip logic on 2011-2012 FAFSA on the Web.

We worked with the vendors to research this issue and identify the best solution. As a result, we will implement two new 2011-2012 comment codes (901 and 902) on April 24, 2011. Note that this solution does not include reprocessing of existing SAR/ISIR transactions.

Below is a description of the vendor issue for the rest of the community and how the two new comment codes will help resolve it.

Issue Background

In 2011-2012 FAFSA on the Web, we added new logic that allows some applicants to skip asset-related questions if the applicant’s eligibility is not affected by providing asset information (and their state grant agency does not require it). This logic is enabled by asking applicants a new asset threshold screening question. When an applicant submits his or her FAFSA with blank responses to the asset questions as a result of answering "No" to the asset threshold screening question, the CPS accepts the omission of the asset data and suppresses Reject 1, which would otherwise be applied to the transaction.

After implementing this change for 2011-2012, we became aware of issues some vendors were encountering due to the lack of information on the ISIR to indicate the applicant was presented with and answered the asset threshold screening question.

Issue Resolution

After consulting with the vendors impacted by this issue, we have determined that the most effective solution is to implement two new 2011-2012 comment codes, 901 and 902, which will identify whether the applicant or parent was presented with and answered “No” to the asset threshold screening question on FAFSA on the Web. This solution resolves the issue of the missing data while avoiding mid-cycle changes to the 2011-2012 ISIR record layout.

Therefore, beginning on April 24, 2011, we will assign comment code 901 or 902 to 2011-2012 ISIR transactions based on the following logic:

  • Comment 901 will be placed on the ISIR if the parent of a dependent student was presented with the asset threshold screening question on FAFSA on the Web and answered “No.”

  • Comment 902 will be placed on the ISIR if an independent student was presented with the asset threshold screening question on FAFSA on the Web and answered “No.”

There will be no text associated with these comment codes. The codes will be included on the ISIR and displayed in the FAA Information section of FAA Access to CPS Online. Neither the comment number nor comment text will print on the SAR.

Next Steps

We will post updated versions of the 2011-2012 Application Processing System Specification for Software Developers, the 2011-2012 SAR Comment Codes and Text Guide, and the 2011-2012 ISIR Guide to reflect the addition of comment codes 901 and 902. Please monitor the IFAP Web site for forthcoming announcements about the availability of these updates.

We also continue to review additional changes we might need to make for the 2012-2013 Award Year for the asset threshold screening question. We will communicate those decisions to you when available.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this message, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806), or by e-mail at


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