Federal Student Aid - IFAP
   

Publication Date: June 14, 2006

Author: G. Kay Jacks, General Manager, FSA Application, School Eligibility and Delivery Services

Summary: HERA Operational Implementation Guidance (CPS, COD System, EDExpress Suite) -- Student Eligibility Requirement Regarding Drug-Related Offenses

Posted on 06-14-2006

The Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (the HERA), Pub. L. 109-171, modified the student eligibility provision regarding the suspension of Title IV eligibility for drug-related offenses. As described in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-06-05 (http://www.ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN0605.html), effective July 1, 2006, a student loses eligibility for Title IV aid only if the drug-related offense for which the student was convicted occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving Title IV aid. The HERA did not change the period of ineligibility and provisions for regaining eligibility.

This communication provides further detail about how we will implement this change for the 2006-2007 Award Year, including the following information:

  • How applicants who file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or after July 1, 2006 will be presented with the new provision;
  • A one-time process to notify applicants who filed before July 1, 2006 of a potential change to their eligibility;
  • How applicants can make corrections;
  • Schools' responsibility.

We will also briefly describe how the provision will be implemented in 2007-2008.

Applicants Who File on the Web on or After July 1, 2006

To accommodate the change to the student eligibility provision, all 2006-07 Web applicants who apply on or after July 1, 2006 will be presented with a revised drug conviction question on FAFSA on the Web and a revised drug conviction worksheet.

For students who apply or make corrections on the Web on or after July 1, 2006, question 31 will read:

"Has the student been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while the student was receiving federal student aid (grants, loans, and/or work-study)?"

Students who answer "Yes," will be prompted to complete the revised interactive online drug conviction worksheet to determine whether their conviction affects their eligibility.

Applicants Who File a Paper FAFSA on or After July 1, 2006

Students who complete the paper 2006-2007 FAFSA on or after July 1, 2006 and answer "Yes" to the drug conviction question will be sent a Student Aid Report (SAR) along with the revised drug conviction worksheet where they can determine whether their original answer needs to be corrected. Because we made the change to the drug conviction worksheet and not to the wording of the question on the paper FAFSA, we can maintain the current process for paper filers who answer "Yes" to question 31, and avoid reprinting and redistributing millions of copies of the paper application.

A copy of the revised drug conviction worksheet is included as an attachment to this announcement. Also note, the Federal Student Aid Information Center's (FSAIC) automated response system will be updated to reflect the revised worksheet questions.

Applicants Who Answered "Yes" to Question 31 Prior to July 1, 2006

For applicants who answered "Yes" to the drug conviction question prior to July 1, 2006, the Department cannot determine whether the drug-related offense was for conduct that occurred while the applicant was receiving Title IV aid. Therefore, on or about July 1, 2006, we will send a special one-time notification (e-mail or paper letter) to each 2006-2007 applicant whose latest transaction shows limited or total ineligibility (value of 2 or 3 in SAR field #31). We will also send a notification if the student did not answer the question.

As with our other student notifications, an e-mail notification will be sent if we have an e-mail address for the student with valid syntax (for more information about valid syntax, please refer to "Important Information about E-mail" in the 2006-2007 Summary of Changes for the Application Processing System). A student who does not have an e-mail address with valid syntax or whose e-mail notification was returned as undeliverable will be mailed a letter, provided there is a deliverable mailing address.

The e-mail notification will contain a link to the revised drug conviction worksheet on the Web that the student can use to determine if his or her response to the drug conviction question needs to be corrected. Similarly, the letter will contain a revised worksheet for the student to complete. Both the e-mail and the letter will contain instructions to the student for how to make a correction, if necessary.

Making a Correction

Any student whose answer to question 31 changes based on results from the revised drug conviction worksheet can submit a correction online if he or she has a Federal Student Aid PIN. The student can make the correction by going to FAFSA on the Web (http://www.fafsa.ed.gov) and selecting "Make Corrections to a Processed FAFSA."

A student who has his or her Data Release Number (DRN) from his or her SAR can call the FSAIC at 800/4-FED-AID (800/433-3243) to correct the answer to question 31. In addition, a student who completes the revised drug conviction worksheet using the FSAIC's automated response system may also submit a correction to question 31, if the student has his or her DRN. A correction to question 31 can also be submitted on the paper SAR or electronically by the school.

A new transaction will be generated for students who change their answer to the drug conviction question. The student will be sent a new SAR and a new Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) will be sent to all schools listed on the transaction.

School Responsibility

Institutions can, but are not required to, identify applicants whose eligibility has been restricted because of the drug conviction eligibility question and direct them to the revised drug conviction worksheet on the Web or to the updated FSAIC automated response system. As always, if an institution receives a new SAR or ISIR, it must consider whether there is any change to the student's eligibility for Title IV assistance and revise the student's aid package accordingly.

2007-2008 Award Year

In addition to carrying forward the changes to the Web, the drug conviction worksheet, and to the FSAIC that are described above, we will also revise the drug conviction question on the paper 2007-2008 FAFSA. The new question number will be "30."

For More Information

If you have any questions regarding the worksheet on the FAFSA on the Web site, contact the FSAIC at 800/4-FED-AID or 800/433-3243 (TDD/TTY 800/730-8913).

If you have other questions regarding the HERA provision, contact the Federal Research and Customer Care Center (RCCC) at 800/433-7327.

Attachments/Enclosures:

2006-2007 Student Eligibility Drug Worksheet in PDF Format, 124KB, 2 pages