Federal Student Aid - IFAP
   

Publication Date: July 27, 2005

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

Summary: Overview of Major 2006-2007 Application Processing System Changes

Posted on 07-27-2005

Federal Student Aid (FSA) is pleased to provide the community with an overview of the major enhancements we are making to the Application Processing System for the upcoming 2006-2007 cycle. The goal of this early overview is to assist you with your planning for the new award year. We will provide additional information and details about all of the changes we are making for 2006-2007 later this summer and fall in our regular series of messages and guides.

A preview of the major changes and enhancements for 2006-2007 is listed (by area) below:

** Renewal Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Changes **

1) Paper Renewal FAFSA Discontinued: Beginning with the 2006-2007 cycle, we will no longer generate and mail paper Renewal FAFSAs to students. As a result, we will retire the renewal application data (RAD) request options associated with paper Renewal FAFSA requests that were available in the past.

We are making these changes after analyzing Renewal FAFSA processing trends, which demonstrate that a majority of students are now using the Web to file their Renewal FAFSA, and students who filed a paper Renewal FAFSA in the past are spread out across all demographic and income ranges.

2) Distribution of Renewal Reminders Expanded: All students who meet the 2006-2007 renewal eligibility criteria, and who apply for the 2005-2006 award year by October 28, 2005, will be sent an initial Renewal Reminder. A Renewal Reminder e-mail will be sent if a valid e-mail address is present on the 2005-2006 renewal-eligible transaction. If we don't have a valid e-mail address, but have a valid mailing address, a Renewal Reminder letter will be sent instead of an e-mail. The Renewal Reminder letter replaces the standard tri-fold PIN Mailer, which we sent to renewal-eligible students in the past. The new letter format gives us the ability to provide more detail about the renewal application process and to describe what the student needs to do to participate.

Also new for 2006-2007, if an e-mail message is returned to us as undeliverable, we will send a paper Renewal Reminder letter to the applicant instead. We are taking this additional step to ensure that the applicant receives information about the renewal application process.

3) Second Renewal Reminder Added: At the request of many of you in the community, a subsequent Renewal Reminder e-mail or letter (as appropriate) will be sent. This notification will be sent to all students who meet the renewal eligibility criteria, but who have not filed a 2006-2007 Renewal FAFSA by the week of February 6, 2006. For students who also met the criteria for receiving the initial Renewal Reminder, this subsequent notification will be the second reminder of the availability of the online 2006-2007 Renewal FAFSA. It will provide further guidance on how to retrieve the PIN to access the online application.

** PIN Process Changes **

1) "I Forgot/Don't Know My PIN" Option Added: To assist PIN users who have misplaced or forgotten their PIN, the PIN Authentication page included as part of the standard Web login process will be updated to display an "I Forgot/Don't Know My PIN" option. This option will link to the Duplicate PIN Request page where the user can request a duplicate PIN.

2) Quicker Duplicate PIN E-Mail Distribution: We will increase the frequency with which we send duplicate PIN e-mails to users. Currently, we send these e-mails every 12 hours; in 2006-2007, we will send them every four hours.

3) PINs Disabled after 18 Months of Inactivity: To strengthen the security of the PIN, PINs that have been inactive for 18 months will be permanently disabled beginning in July 2006. Users who have had their PIN disabled will need to reapply for a PIN.

** FAFSA on the Web Changes **

1) FAFSA on the Web Worksheet Enhanced for Improved Usability: We heard from many of you that the term "Pre-Application Worksheet" was confusing to students, so the 2006-2007 Worksheet will be known simply as the "FAFSA on the Web Worksheet." We are also making several enhancements to the Worksheet to improve its appearance and increase its use by students. We redesigned the form to make its format and layout more user-friendly, we added the Department of Education seal, and we improved the differentiation between student and parent questions.

** FAA Access to CPS Online Changes **

1) Renewal FAFSA Access for Pacific Islander Students Now Available to Financial Aid Administrators (FAAs): A school will now be able to submit a 2006-2007 Renewal FAFSA for a Pacific Islander student using the same "888" identifier assigned to the student's 2005-2006 FAFSA, if the student is Renewal-eligible. In prior cycles, the Renewal FAFSA process was not available to FAAs performing application entry on behalf of these students.

** Central Processing System (CPS) Changes **

1) Multi-Year Applicant Data (MYAD) Edits Updated: To detect possible inconsistencies across application years, the CPS will continue to perform cross-year edit checks. Certain data from an applicant's 2005-2006 record will be compared to data submitted on the 2006-2007 application, which will help the CPS identify possible reporting errors from one year to the next. As in prior cycles, applicants will then be asked to review the data and make any necessary corrections.

In 2006-2007, due to the expansion of several cross-year edit conditions, we anticipate more students will be affected by these edits. The following cross-year edits will be expanded:

- Number of Family Members increased by two or more (edit previously looked for an increase of three or more) from previous year.
- Total Income decreased by 30% or more (edit previously looked for a decrease of 50% or more) from previous year.
- Taxes Paid increased by 30% or more and Adjusted Gross Income increased by 10% or less (edit previously looked for an increase in Taxes Paid of 50% or more).

While these edits are intended as warnings only and do not require resolution by the FAA, we encourage schools to work with students to address any issues the edits raise.

2) Signature Hold Waiting Period Reduced to Seven Days: Applications that are missing signatures are currently stored in the Signature Hold file for 14 days. If a signature page or electronic signature is not received in 14 days, the application is processed and the applicant is sent a rejected Student Aid Report (SAR) to sign. In 2006-2007, the waiting period for student records stored in the Signature Hold file will be reduced to seven days. We are making this change to speed up the processing of applications after determining that a majority of student applications with missing signatures are resolved and removed from Signature Hold in seven days or less.

3) School Code Corrections by Written Correspondence Discontinued: We will no longer allow a student to add or delete school codes on his or her record by mailing a letter to the CPS, due to difficulties in identifying how the student wants existing school codes on the SAR to be treated. All such school code requests will be returned to the applicant along with clear instructions describing alternative school code correction methods, which include contacting the Federal Student Aid Information Center by phone, using the Web to submit a correction, or submitting the school code corrections on a paper SAR. This change should impact very few students: for 2005-2006 we have received just 391 school code correction requests by letter.

4) School Code Corrections No Longer Processed in "Real Time:" We will no longer process a correction in "real time" if the correction includes the addition of a new school code. Currently, if a correction to a student's record does not require us to resend the record back through the database matches, a new "real-time" transaction containing official processing results is produced immediately upon submission. Because these types of corrections do not go through the matches, they do not contain updated information from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Instead, the new transaction contains NSLDS information from the most recent transaction that went to NSLDS for matching. Schools can use the NSLDS Database Results Flag on the ISIR to determine the status of a transaction: if the NSLDS Results Flag is "5" the transaction is a real-time correction that was not sent to NSLDS.

We have heard from schools that not doing an NSLDS match when school codes are added prevents the new school from receiving the most current NSLDS financial aid history for a mid-year transfer student. While the Transfer Monitoring Process is designed to provide the new school with the necessary information, many schools prefer the convenience of getting NSLDS data on the ISIR. This change to real-time corrections will ensure that when a school code is added to a student's record, the record will be sent to NSLDS and the resulting transaction will contain the most current NSLDS financial aid history information.

** ISIR Changes **

1) Redundant ISIR Comment Code Text Eliminated: Currently, SARs and ISIRs contain slightly different text for the comment codes that are applied to the student's record. To improve consistency and more easily accommodate mid-cycle updates, we will no longer maintain the separate set of comment code text for ISIR records. For 2006-2007, ISIRs will use the same set of comment code text as SARs, meaning that both the student and the FAA will see the same text. We polled FAAs from a diverse set of schools for their opinion before we made this change, and the unanimous opinion was that it would be preferable to see the same text the student sees.

Watch for additional detail and guidance on 2006-2007 Application Processing System changes, to be posted in a series of documents later this summer and fall. These additional documents include the ISIR Guide, Renewal FAFSA Process Guide, School Electronic Process Guide, the Student Web Application Products Process Guide and the Summary of Changes for the Application Processing System.

If you have any questions on the information provided in this message, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 or by e-mail at CPSSAIG@ed.gov.