Federal Student Aid - IFAP
   

Publication Date: August 31, 2006

Author: G. Kay Jacks, General Manager, Application, Operations and Delivery Services, Federal Student Aid

Summary: HERA Operational Implementation Guidance (CPS, COD System, EDExpress Suite) -- Availability of EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007 Release 3.0

Posted on 08-31-2006

Federal Student Aid is pleased to announce the availability of EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 3.0 to the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Download (FSAdownload) Web site (located at http://fsadownload.ed.gov/). Release 3.0 is the first of three planned EDExpress 2006-2007 enhancement releases that implement provisions of the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (the HERA), Pub. L. 109-171.

In addition to other changes, the HERA implemented two new Title IV grant programs-the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (National SMART) Grant. The HERA also extends Federal Direct PLUS Loan (Direct PLUS) eligibility to graduate or professional student borrowers.

Note: The HERA provides for eligible graduate and professional students to receive Direct PLUS Loans on or after July 1, 2006. The HERA provision does not create a new loan program, but rather, allows a new type of borrower-an eligible graduate or professional student-to borrow under the existing Direct PLUS Loan Program. In EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 3.0 and forward, a Direct PLUS loan for a graduate or professional student is referred to as a "Grad PLUS" loan.

EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 3.0, enables you to create ACG and National SMART Grant origination and disbursement records and updates Direct Loan functionality to uniquely identify Grad PLUS loan records on entry tabs, reports, and in other software features. Release 3.0 also enables you to import and print ACG and National SMART Grant versions of the Electronic Statement of Account (ESOA) and adds separate print options for the Grad PLUS MPN, List-Grad PLUS MPN, MPN Manifest, and Disclosure Statement.

Other changes related to the HERA, including updates to ISIR comment code text and existing Pell functionality, are also implemented in Release 3.0.

In addition to the Release 3.0 software, the following EDExpress 2006-2007 documents are now available on the FSAdownload Web site:

  • The EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 3.0 Cover Letter
  • The EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 1.0 Desk Reference (HERA Addendum)
  • The EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 2.0 Desk Reference (HERA Addendum)

The EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 3.0 Cover Letter includes a detailed list of Release 3.0 enhancements to the EDExpress Global, Application Processing, Pell, and Direct Loan modules related to the HERA. The HERA addendums to the EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 1.0 Desk Reference and the EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 2.0 Desk Reference contain additional information and guidance regarding EDExpress 2006-2007 enhancements related to the HERA.

The 2006-2007 COD Technical Reference, Volume III: Pell Grant, ACG, National SMART Grant & Direct Loan Combination System Supplement has also been updated on the FSAdownload Web site to add information and guidance related to the HERA, including importing ACG, National SMART Grant, and Grad PLUS origination and disbursement data from an external system into the EDExpress software (in addition to Pell and other Direct Loan loan types).

Upcoming EDExpress 2006-2007 Enhancement Releases

Additional changes related to the HERA will be implemented in EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 4.0 (available December 2006) and Release 5.0 (available April 2007):

  • EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 4.0, will enable you to export ACG and National SMART Grant origination and disbursement records for transmission to the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System and to import responses for ACG and National SMART Grant data from the COD System.

Note: While Release 3.0 will allow you to create ACG and National SMART Grant origination and disbursement records, you will not be able to export ACG or National SMART Grant records from EDExpress 2006-2007 for transmission to the COD System or import responses to ACG and National SMART Grant data sent by the COD System until you install Release 4.0. In addition, the COD System will not accept ACG or National SMART Grant origination or disbursement data until December 16, 2006.

  • EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 5.0, will enable you to export ACG and National SMART Grant Data Requests to the COD System and import ACG and National SMART Grant-specific versions of files such as the Year-to-Date (YTD) and Multiple Reporting Record (MRR).
  • EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 5.0 will also update Direct Loan functionality, including the origination process, to follow increased annual loan limits established for Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized loan awards by the HERA. For more information on the HERA's annual loan limit changes for the Direct Stafford Loan Program, see Dear Colleague Letter GEN-06-02, posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site, located at ifap.ed.gov, on March 10, 2006. Note: The COD System will not accept subsidized or unsubsidized loan originations at the higher loan limits if the origination date is prior to July 1, 2007.

The EDExpress Package/Repackage process will not be modified to award subsidized (Aid Type S) or unsubsidized (Aid Type U) loans at the new loan limits until EDExpress 2007-2008, Release 1.0. EDExpress 2006-2007 Packaging users can increase subsidized and unsubsidized awards manually to the new limits on Packaging records at any time. However, the higher loan limits cannot be originated prior to July 1, 2007 in the Direct Loan module. Users may need to create an additional loan origination record for the student.

Database Update Process for PLUS Records for Graduate or Professional Students

In August 2006, Federal Student Aid posted two EDExpress 2006-2007 two program files that, when copied to the EDExpress program directory, updated data edits in the Direct Loan module to allow the creation of PLUS loan records for independent students with a college grade level equal to or greater than 6 (1st year graduate/professional).

If you loaded the two program files included in the August 2006 release and subsequently created PLUS loan records for graduate or professional students in EDExpress, a database update process that runs following the installation of Release 3.0 will modify PLUS loan records with a college grade level equal to or greater than 6 to be uniquely identified as PLUS loan records for graduate or professional students (or "Grad PLUS" records) within EDExpress functionality.

Note: Due to the availability of enhanced Grad PLUS functionality in EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 3.0, the August 2006 release has been removed from the FSAdownload site.

Before You Install Release 3.0

If you are upgrading to Release 3.0, ensure you have a valid, reliable backup copy of your current production 2006-2007 EDExpress database (expres67.mdb).

You must also make sure there are no record locks on the database and that no user IDs are logged in by following the steps listed below:

1) To check for record locks, select Tools, Utilities, Clear Locks from the menu bar. If you receive the message "No records selected," there are no record locks. If the Clear Locks dialog box appears, click Select All, then OK to clear any record locks.

2) To check for logged-in user IDs, select Tools, Setup, Global, Security Users from the menu bar, and then click Retrieve. The user ID you are currently using should be the only ID with the checkbox selected in the Logged In column (you can disregard the Locked column). Select any user ID displayed as logged in and click OK. Clear the Logged In? checkbox and click OK. Repeat the process for each logged-in user ID except the one you are using.

3) After clearing any record locks and logging out any user IDs, run the Compact and Repair Database and Verify Database utilities by selecting Tools, Utilities from the menu bar before installing Release 3.0. You should run Compact and Repair Database first, then Verify Database, and lastly run Compact and Repair Database again.

Release 3.0 Download/Installation Process

Release 3.0 is available on the FSAdownload Web site in two formats. You can download the entire software in one file, called Express67r3.exe, or you can download the software in twelve separate "disk" installment files which can be copied to a local area network (LAN) drive or CD-ROM.

You are required to have Windows 2000 or Windows XP as your PC workstation operating system to run Release 3.0. You must also meet the minimum hardware and software configuration requirements outlined in the September 2004 Federal Register Notice, available on the IFAP Web site at http://ifap.ed.gov/fregisters/FR09142004.html. Additional details and frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the hardware and software requirements are available on IFAP at ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN0408.html. Other hardware, software, and LAN requirements are outlined in the 2006-2007 Installation Guide for EDExpress for Windows.

Important Installation Note: You must be an Administrator on your workstation to install EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 3.0 in the Windows 2000 or Windows XP operating systems. If you are not an Administrator, you will receive a warning when you try to install EDExpress. After an Administrator has installed EDExpress, you can run Release 3.0 as a member of the Power Users group. If your database is on a LAN, you must be a Power User or higher on the network (or "domain") as well as on your workstation. There are no workarounds for these Windows rights issues. Consult with your school's technical department if you receive a warning that an Administrator must install the EDExpress software.

EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 3.0 can be installed as an upgrade to Release 1.0 or Release 2.0. You must have Release 1.0 or Release 2.0 installed in order to run an upgrade (or "custom") installation.

To upgrade to Release 3.0, select either the Stand Alone Custom or Workstation Custom option during installation, depending on your EDExpress operating environment. Do NOT mark the "Database" checkbox unless you are performing a first-time installation or want to overwrite your Release 1.0 or Release 2.0 database. If you choose to overwrite your database, all data previously entered will be lost.

Note: If you have not installed Release 1.0 or Release 2.0 on your system, you can proceed directly to a Stand Alone Full or Network Server/Workstation Full installation of Release 3.0. Please be aware, however, that a Stand Alone Full or Network Server/Workstation Full installation will load a completely new, blank 2006-2007 EDExpress database to your system. If a database already exists for 2006-2007 on your system, a full installation of Release 3.0 will overwrite it and all data previously entered will be lost.

If you receive any prompts during the Release 3.0 installation indicating an existing file was found and asking if you want to overwrite, click Yes.

After you upgrade your standalone or LAN workstation(s) to Release 3.0, reboot the PC, then log on to EDExpress 2006-2007 to allow the software to perform a one-time only database update. This update loads important changes to your database structure.

If You Have Questions

If you have any questions regarding downloading, installing, or using EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 3.0, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806) or by e-mail at CPSSAIG@ed.gov.

If you have questions regarding the COD System, or if student or parent borrowers have questions regarding Direct Loan PLUS and Grad PLUS loans, contact the COD School Relations Center at CODsupport@acs-inc.com or at the numbers listed below for assistance:

  • Pell Grant, ACG, and National SMART Grant: 800/474-7268 (800/4PGRANT)
  • Direct Loan School Services: 800/848-0978
  • Direct Loan Applicant Services: 800/557-7394 (for student and parent borrowers)

For other questions about the HERA, contact the Federal Research and Customer Care Center (RCCC) at 800/433-7327, 202/275-5532 (fax), or by e-mail at fsa.customer.support@ed.gov.