Posted Date: November 17, 2017

Author:  Federal Student Aid

Subject: COD School Testing for the 2018-19 Award Year

The Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) School Relations Center will allow for COD School Testing for the 2018–19 Award Year from January 2, 2018 through December 21, 2018.

The purpose of COD School Testing is to provide schools, third party servicers, and software vendors an opportunity to test Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) business processes and system software with the COD System prior to the transmission and processing of actual production data using COD Common Record XML Schema Version 4.0c. It also allows schools, third party servicers, and software providers the opportunity to make corrections or enhancements to software applications and processes prior to sending data to the “live” production environment.

All entities that wish to participate in COD School Testing must submit the “COD School Testing 2018–19 Sign-Up Document” to the COD School Relations Center.  Schools, third party servicers, and software vendors can submit the sign-up document beginning Monday, December 4, 2017.

Complete testing information will be available in the COD School Testing Guide (Volume V of the 2018–19 COD Technical Reference) posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website and the Federal Student Aid Download (FSAdownload) website.  In this announcement, we provide useful high-level information about COD School Testing for the 2018–19 Award Year in the following order:

  • Who Should Participate in COD School Testing for the 2018–19 Award Year

  • School Testing Phases

  • COD School Testing Sign-Up Process

  • Contact Information

Who Should Participate in COD School Testing for the 2018–19 Award Year

Any school that will participate in the Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, or Direct Loan program for the first time in the 2018–19 Award Year must complete school testing with the COD System before sending data into production.  The only exception to this is schools using EDExpress or software from software providers or third party servicers.

While other schools are not required to test with the COD System, all schools, software providers, and third party servicers may participate in testing.  We encourage schools using a solution developed in-house (mainframe system, server, software, or other) to send and receive the COD Extensible Mark Up Language (XML) Common Record to test with the COD System.

Software providers and third party servicers may perform their own product testing on behalf of their customers.  Schools should contact their software provider or third party servicer to discuss testing plans/concerns.  The Department of Education (the Department) will test the EDExpress software before releasing it to schools.

School Testing Phases

School testing is comprised of two phases—Phase I for Common Record Manual Verification and Phase II for Structured Application Testing.  A school must complete Phase I testing before participating in Phase II testing. Following the completion of Phase I and Phase II testing, a school may participate in Unstructured Testing.

Note: The COD School Relations Center will supply the test student data that must be used during testing.

The table below shows when each testing phase is available. Note that school testing is self-paced. Schools are not required to test for the full duration of a testing phase, and schools often complete a testing phase before the end date of that phase.

TESTING PHASE

TESTING PHASE DESCRIPTION

START
DATE

END
DATE

Phase I

Common Record Manual Verification Testing

 

01/02/2018

10/05/2018

Phase II

Structured Application Testing

 

04/09/2018

11/09/2018

Unstructured

Unstructured Testing

 

04/09/2018

12/21/2018

Phase I – Common Record Manual Verification

The purpose of Common Record Manual Verification testing is to ensure that a school's COD XML Common Record is well formed and properly structured according to the rules of the COD Common Record XML Schema Version 4.0c.

During this testing phase, the COD School Testing Support Team manually reviews a Common Record document that a school emails to the COD School Relations Center and assists the school in the identification of potential updates to its Common Record submissions.  This testing phase will be available from January 2, 2018 through October 5, 2018.

Phase II – Structured Application Testing

The purpose of Structured Application Testing is to ensure that a school can send, receive, and process batches of records using comprehensive input instructions with detailed expected results issued by the COD School Relations Center.  The school uses a test Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) file supplied by the COD School Relations Center to create a test data set of students to use with the structured test cases. 

During this phase, a school sends Common Record documents to the COD System and receives response documents back from the COD System.  The school must verify that these files can be loaded and processed correctly in its system.

This testing phase will be available from April 9, 2018 through November 9, 2018.  To participate in Phase II testing, a school must complete Phase I testing first.  If a school completes Phase I testing before April 9, 2018, it must wait until the Phase II testing window opens.

Unstructured Testing

The purpose of Unstructured Testing is to allow a school that has completed Phase I and Phase II testing to ensure that it can correctly create and submit all possible transactions needed for the future award year.  The school uses the test ISIR file data and submits minor variations to test cases such as adjustments to the person information, award amounts, or disbursement amounts throughout the award year.

This optional testing phase will be available from April 9, 2018 through December 21, 2018.

COD School Testing Sign-Up Process

A school registers for testing by completing the “COD School Testing 2018–19 Sign-up Document” attached to this announcement.  The sign-up document is also posted on the COD Web Site's Home page under the “COD Resources” link.

A school may register to participate in Phase I testing, in both Phase I and Phase II testing, or in Phase I, Phase II, and Unstructured testing.  To ensure enough time to complete all testing before the established testing end dates, a school must register no later than September 14, 2018.

A school should submit the completed sign-up document to the COD School Relations Center by faxing it to 1-877-623-5082 or emailing it to CODSupport@ed.gov with “School Testing Sign-up” in the subject line.  After the sign-up document is received, the COD School Relations Center will contact the school via email to obtain school-specific information and to schedule specific test dates with the school.

Note: Upon receipt of the sign-up document, the COD School Testing Support Team must complete a considerable setup process to establish the school in the COD test environment before testing can begin. Please allow 7-10 business days for completion of the sign-up and set-up processes.  A school should take this timeframe into account before beginning to test and provide enough lead-time in its schedule. It is also important that the sign-up document is complete and includes accurate information.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about COD School Testing or signing up for testing, contact the COD School Relations Center at 1-800-474-7268 for Grants or 1-800-848-0978 for Direct Loans. You may also email CODSupport@ed.gov.

Attachments/Enclosures:

COD School Testing 2018–19 Sign-up Document in Microsoft Word Format, 165KB, 1 Page

   

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