Posted Date: August 29, 2017

Author:  Dr. A. Wayne Johnson, Chief Operating Officer, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Guidance related to Title IV participants affected by Hurricane Harvey

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is taking numerous steps in response to the devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey, which is a federally declared major disaster (disaster) as defined in The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122(2)).

First, the Department has activated its emergency response contact center in response to the disaster.  If you are seeking informational resources or seeking relief from Department-based administrative requirements, you may contact the Department toll free at (844) 348-4082 or by email at HarveyRelief@ed.gov.  Information for students, parents, and borrowers is also available at https://studentaid.gov.

Institutions of Higher Education in the affected region with specific questions about Hurricane Harvey’s impact on their administration of the Title IV programs should contact the Dallas School Participation Division.  Questions should be directed to Cynthia Thornton, Division Director, at (214) 661-9490 or via email DallasSPD@ed.gov.  Institutions in other regions should contact their School Participation Division representatives.  For a list of contacts, go to https://eligcert.ed.gov/.  Third party servicers should contact the Department’s Third Party Servicer and Oversight Group at (816) 268-0543 or by email at Fsapc3rdpartyserviceroversight@ed.gov.

Guaranty agencies in the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program with questions about the disaster should contact its regional Financial Partners representative.  For a list of regional Financial Partners representatives, go to the Financial Partners’ portal at http://www.fp.ed.gov.  Locate the “Contact Resources” button at the top of the page, and then choose the “Financial Institution Oversight Service” link to get a listing of the regional office representatives.

Second, to help affected parties, the Secretary has published Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-08, which provides general guidance for regulatory relief to students, institutions, lenders, guaranty agencies, and their servicers in administering the federal student financial aid programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).  That regulatory relief applies to:

  • All recipients of Title IV aid and their families who at the time of a disaster were residing in, employed in, or attending an institution located in the federally declared disaster area; and
  • Institutions, guaranty agencies, and their servicers that are located in such areas.

To determine whether a student, institution, guaranty agency, or servicer is located in the federally declared disaster area, please refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Web site (www.fema.gov/disasters).  Please note that while the FEMA Web site lists numerous Federal disaster declarations, only disasters designated for “Individual Assistance” are eligible for the relief described in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-08.

The relief and resources described above should prove to be helpful as you assist students and their families who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

   

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