Federal Student Aid - IFAP
   

Publication Date: December 5, 2006

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

Summary: HERA Operational Implementation Guidance (CPS, COD System, and EDExpress Suite) -- Implementation of HERA-Related Additional COD System Functionality

Posted on 12-05-2006

As we have explained through a number of Electronic Announcements posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site, we have implemented Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System functionality required by the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (the HERA), Pub. L. 109-171, through a series of releases since July 1, 2006. This announcement provides information about the fourth release.

During the period December 15-16, 2006, we will implement additional HERA-related COD System functionality that supports the processing of Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) awards for the 2006-2007 Award Year. After this COD System functionality is available on December 16, 2006, a school will be able to complete the following ACG and National SMART Grant processing functions:

  • Submit award originations and disbursements to the COD System via batch and the COD Web site;
  • Receive responses from the COD System;
  • Access award origination and disbursement data via the COD Web site; and
  • Access grant information in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

In this announcement, we provide information related to the implementation in the following sections:

  • COD Batch Processing Suspension and Web Site Outage Information
  • COD System Processing Function Enhancements and Modifications (multiple subsections)
  • Information for EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 4.0 Users
  • Information in the NSLDS
  • Contact Information

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we complete this important activity.

COD Batch Processing Suspension and Web Site Outage Information

In order to install the HERA-related system changes-

  • We will suspend COD batch processing beginning at 8:00 P.M. (ET) on Friday, December 15, 2006. Records submitted after 8:00 P.M. (ET) will be held and processed after 6:00 P.M. (ET) on Saturday, December 16, 2006.

  • The COD Web site will be unavailable from 8:00 P.M. (ET) on Friday, December 15, 2006 until 6:00 P.M. (ET) on Saturday, December 16, 2006.

Additionally, for William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program participants-

  • The Direct Loan Electronic Master Promissory Note (MPN) Web site will be unavailable from 8:00 P.M. (ET) on Friday, December 15, 2006 until 6:00 P.M. (ET) on Saturday, December 16, 2006.

    Individuals starting the process by 7:00 P.M. (ET) on December 15th will be able to complete their MPNs before the Web site becomes unavailable. Individuals attempting to access the Web site after the cutoff time will see a Web site maintenance message and will not be able to start the process or retrieve an existing MPN.

Note: The COD System will undergo routine maintenance on Sunday, December 17, 2006 from 2:00 A.M. until 8:00 A.M. (ET). The Direct Loan Electronic MPN Web site will be unavailable for an extended period from 2:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. (ET) on December 17th while the routine maintenance is performed. Detailed information about these outage periods will be included in the "COD Processing Update" and posted as messages on the COD and Direct Loan Electronic MPN Web sites.

COD System Processing Function Enhancements and Modifications

Beginning December 16, 2006, COD System functionality will be in place to support ACG and National SMART Grant origination and disbursement processing. This will include the COD System sending ACG and National SMART Grant disbursement information to the NSLDS.

In conjunction with the December 16, 2006 implementation, the COD School Relations Center is conducting HERA School Testing for the 2006-2007 Award Year. Schools, third party servicers, and software vendors interested in this optional testing opportunity can refer to the Electronic Announcement posted on the IFAP Web site for detailed information.

To date, the Department of Education (the Department) has posted a number of Dear Colleague Letters and Electronic Announcements that communicate regulatory, policy, and operational information related to the implementation of the ACG and National SMART Grant programs. In addition, we have updated the 2006-2007 COD Technical Reference. A school should refer to the communications posted on the IFAP Web site and to the 2006-2007 COD Technical Reference for complete information about the ACG and National SMART Grant programs.

At this time, we want to remind schools of key ACG and National SMART Grant operational information. This information is presented in the following sections:

  • Origination and Disbursement Submission for ACG and National SMART Grant Beginning December 16, 2006
  • COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e Required for ACG and National SMART Grant Batch Processing Beginning December 16, 2006
  • CFL Increases Based on ACG and National SMART Grant Disbursement Activity Beginning December 16, 2006
  • Acceptance of Actual Disbursements for ACG and National SMART Grant Beginning December 16, 2006
  • Additional COD Functionality for ACG and National SMART Grant Available April 14, 2007

Origination and Disbursement Submission for ACG and National SMART Grant Beginning December 16, 2006

Beginning December 16, 2006, a school will send origination and disbursement information about ACG and National SMART Grant awards using new COD Common Record Extensible Markup Language (XML) Schema Version 2.0e blocks or by submitting individual records via the COD Web site.

Notes:

  1. A school will use the Academic Competitiveness Grant Block for ACG awards. This block will include basic award data, an element for Eligibility/Payment Reason, an element for Rigorous High School Program Code, if the Eligibility/Payment Reason is "01" (Rigorous High School Program), and an element for Student Level (academic year in school).

    The Rigorous High School Program Code is the six-digit, alphanumeric code assigned to each rigorous secondary school program. All approved rigorous secondary school programs are included in the 2006-2007 COD Technical Reference and posted as a quick reference operational resource attached to an Electronic Announcement on the IFAP Web site.

    A school may receive a Rigorous High School Program Code for a student who completes the Department's ACG self-identification process. The code that the student provides will be included in the ACG Data file (Message Class ED2007OP) sent to a school and available via FAA Access to CPS Online. The student-provided code may not be the code that accurately reflects the basis for the school's determination of ACG eligibility. The school must submit to the COD System the code for which the school's documentation supports determination of ACG eligibility.

  2. A school will use the National SMART Grant Block for National SMART Grant awards. This block will include basic award data, an element for Major/CIP Code, and an element for Student Level (academic year in school).

    Dear Colleague Letter GEN-06-15 provides the list of eligible academic majors and their respective Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes. All eligible CIP Codes are also included in the 2006-2007 COD Technical Reference.

  3. As explained in Volume II, Section 1, "Implementation Guide," of the 2006-2007 COD Technical Reference, a school will include Award ID for ACG and National SMART Grant awards. Also, if a school wants the COD System to use citizenship status based on documentation in its files rather than the citizenship status determined through Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) processing, the school must include the citizenship info in the Person Block.

COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e Required for ACG and National SMART Grant Batch Processing Beginning December 16, 2006

We posted the COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e on June 15, 2006. The COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e includes the Academic Competitiveness Grant Block and the National SMART Grant Block.

Beginning December 16, 2006, all 2006-2007 Common Record documents that contain ACG and/or National SMART Grant origination and disbursement information must be sent by a school and will be acknowledged by the COD System using COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e. In addition, the COD System will send all unsolicited system-generated responses, including Web responses, using the new schema version.

Notes:

  1. At this time, a school may continue to submit Pell Grant and Direct Loan records in Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0d. The COD System will acknowledge these records in Version 2.0d. However, if a school processes transactions via the COD Web site, Web acknowledgements will be returned in the new Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e.


  2. After implementation of 2007-2008 COD System functionality scheduled for April 14, 2007, a school must send and the COD System will acknowledge all Common Record documents using COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e.


  3. COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e includes a DL Graduate PLUS Block. This block is reserved for possible future use and will not be used for 2005-2006, 2006-2007, or 2007-2008 award year processing. As such, a school should not use the DL Graduate PLUS Block for 2005-2006, 2006-2007, and 2007-2008 Direct PLUS Loans made to eligible graduate and professional students.


  4. Complete information about COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0d and Version 2.0e is available in the 2006-2007 COD Technical Reference.

CFL Increases Based on ACG and National SMART Grant Disbursement Activity Beginning December 16, 2006

As explained in previous Electronic Announcements posted on August 1, 2006 (http://www.ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/0720ACGAwdYrIniitialAuth.html and http://www.ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/0801HERAOperationalImplementationGuidance.html), we processed the ACG and National SMART Grant Initial Authorizations, known in the COD System as Current Funding Levels (CFLs), for the 2006-2007 Award Year. At that time, we sent an Electronic Statement of Account (ESOA) for each program that listed the amount of a school's Initial CFL for the ACG Program and for the National SMART Grant Program for the 2006-2007 Award Year.

The initial CFL was an estimate that we anticipated would be sufficient for the school to disburse funds for the first (fall 2006) term-before the school would be able to submit ACG and/or National SMART Grant disbursement records to the COD System. To obtain additional ACG and/or National SMART Grant funds for spring 2007 disbursements, the school will need to submit disbursement records to the COD System, and we will adjust the CFL accordingly.

Until December 16, 2006, a school in need of additional ACG and/or National SMART Grant funds to cover disbursements for the first (fall 2006) term requests a funding increase via e-mail to the COD School Relations Center. The implementation of COD System functionality on December 16th will eliminate the routine use of this e-mail process. As such, on December 16th, the e-mail process will be used only on an exception basis for schools that are unable to submit ACG and National SMART Grant disbursements to the COD System due to a school system issue.

Beginning December 16, 2006, if a school has an exceptional situation and must request a funding increase, its e-mail to the COD School Relations Center at CODSupport@acs-inc.com must include-

  • "ACG Authorization Increase Request" or "National SMART Grant Authorization Increase Request," as applicable, in the subject line of the e-mail.


  • At a minimum, the following information in the body of the e-mail:

1. School's name, contact person and telephone number, Pell ID, and GAPS Award Number (P375A06xxxx for the ACG Program and P376S06xxxx for the National SMART Grant Program, with "xxxx" being the school's GAPS award sequence number that currently exists for the Pell Grant and Direct Loan programs);

2. Total amount of additional ACG or National SMART Grant funding, as applicable, needed to fund disbursements for eligible students; and

3. Reason school is unable to submit disbursements to the COD System (including the school's software type if school software is the issue).

The COD School Relations Center will receive and manage requests for Federal Student Aid staff decision and action. If a request is approved, the school will receive a new ESOA that reflects the funding increase.

Note: A school that uses the Reimbursement or Heightened Cash Monitoring 2 (HCM2) funding method will not qualify for funding using the exception process described above. The school must contact its Payment Analyst for further guidance.

Acceptance of Actual Disbursements for ACG and National SMART Grant Beginning December 16, 2006

Since August 2, 2006, a school has been able to draw down funds for ACG and National SMART Grant awards, as applicable, via the Grant Administration and Payment System (GAPS). The school has been required to draw down and disburse ACG and National SMART Grant funds in accordance with the cash management regulations in 34 CFR 668 Subpart K.

Note: The GAPS Award Number for the ACG Program is P375A06xxxx. The GAPS Award Number for the National SMART Grant Program is P376S06xxxx. In each of these numbers, the "xxxx" is populated with a school's GAPS award sequence number that currently exists for the Pell Grant and Direct Loan programs.

Beginning December 16, 2006, the COD System will accept actual disbursements for 2006-2007 ACG and National SMART Grant awards. As previously explained, the earliest date on which a school may have disbursed an ACG or National SMART Grant for the 2006-2007 Award Year, either with Federal funds or its own funds, was July 1, 2006. Accordingly, the actual disbursement date submitted to the COD System must be July 1, 2006 or later.

In some cases, more than 30 days will have elapsed between the date a school disburses ACG or National SMART Grant funds and the date the school submits a record of that disbursement to the COD System. We will consider the school to be in compliance with the 30-day disbursement-reporting requirement and suspend related e-mail notifications regarding ACG and National SMART Grant awards until January 17, 2007.

Note: Until January 17, 2007, we will continue to monitor disbursement-reporting compliance for Pell Grant and Direct Loan awards.

After implementation of the ACG and National SMART Grant disbursement acceptance functionality, we plan to perform the following COD System-wide jobs:

  • A job that reduces a school's ACG CFL and/or National SMART Grant CFL for the 2006-2007 Award Year if the CFL is greater than the school's Net Accepted and Posted Disbursements (NAPD) for the applicable program.


  • A job that reduces to zero ($0.00) ACG and/or National SMART Grant actual disbursements made to a student who does not have a Pell Grant award for the 2006-2007 Award Year in the COD System.

Prior to performing these reductions, we will inform schools through Electronic Announcements on the IFAP Web site. In the Electronic Announcements, we will provide instructions for how schools can inform us of exceptional circumstances before we perform the reductions.

Additional COD Functionality for ACG and National SMART Grant Available April 14, 2007

We plan to implement COD System functionality that supports the processing of ACG, National SMART Grant, Pell Grant, and Direct Loan awards for the 2007-2008 Award Year during the period April 13-14, 2007. We plan to implement the following ACG and National SMART Grant functionality as part of the 2007-2008 release:

  • A school will receive COD reports, such as reconciliation and year-to-date, for both the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 award years that reflect ACG and National SMART Grant information.

    Note: Shortly after the April 14, 2007 implementation, we will automatically send 2006-2007 reconciliation reports for ACG and National SMART Grant to schools as applicable. Prior to sending these reports, we will inform schools through an Electronic Announcement on the IFAP Web site.

  • A school will receive an edit code message (Edit 115) when the COD System receives a new award for a student who has an ACG or National SMART Grant overpayment.

Information for EDExpress 2006-2007, Release 4.0 Users

On December 15, 2006, Federal Student Aid will post EDExpress for Windows 2006-2007, Release 4.0, the second of three planned EDExpress 2006-2007 enhancement releases that implement provisions of the HERA, to the Department's Federal Student Aid Download (FSAdownload) Web site.

Release 4.0 will enable users to export ACG and National SMART Grant origination and disbursement data for transmission to the COD System and to import responses for ACG and National SMART Grant data sent by the COD System. The COD Common Record XML Schema Version 2.0e will be implemented in Release 4.0 and used for all EDExpress Pell Grant, ACG, National SMART Grant, and Direct Loan data processing.

Information in the NSLDS

After the December 16, 2006 COD System implementation, a school will be able to access ACG and National SMART Grant information in the NSLDS. ACG information will include Student Level (academic year in school), Eligibility/Payment Reason, and Rigorous High School Program Code, if the Eligibility/Payment Reason is "01" (Rigorous High School Program). National SMART Grant information will include Student Level (academic year in school) and CIP Code.

After January 1, 2007, ACG and National SMART Grant information will be reflected on the 2007-2008 Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), through NSLDS Transfer Student Monitoring, and in the NSLDS Financial Aid History batch file.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about this announcement, contact the COD School Relations Center at 800/4PGRANT (800/474-7268) for ACG, National SMART Grant, and Pell Grant or 800/848-0978 for Direct Loan. You may also e-mail CODSupport@acs-inc.com.