Posted Date: December 9, 2019

Author:  Federal Student Aid

Subject: COD School Testing for the 2020–21 Award Year

The Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) School Relations Center will allow for COD School Testing for the 2020–21 Award Year from January 2, 2020 through December 18, 2020.

The purpose of COD School Testing is to provide organizations (schools, third-party servicers, and software providers) 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 4.0d. 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 organizations that wish to participate in COD School Testing must submit the “COD School Testing 2020–21 Sign-Up Document” to the COD School Relations Center. Sign-up documents can be submitted starting on Monday, December 9, 2019.

Complete testing information will be available in the COD School Testing Guide (Volume V of the 2020–21 COD Technical Reference) posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website. In this announcement, we provide useful high-level information about COD School Testing for the 2020–21 Award Year in the following order:

  • Participation in COD School Testing for the 2020–21 Award Year

  • School Testing Phases

  • COD School Testing Sign-Up Process

  • Contact Information

Participation in COD School Testing for the 2020–21 Award Year

Any school that will participate in the Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, or Direct Loan program for the first time in the 2020–21 Award Year must complete school testing with the COD System before sending data into production. The only exception to this requirement 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 three phases:

  • Phase I for Common Record Manual Verification
  • Phase II for Structured Application Testing
  • Phase III for Unstructured Testing

An organization must complete Phase I testing before participating in Phase II testing. Following the completion of Phase I and Phase II testing, an organization may participate in Phase III.

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. Organizations are not required to test for the full duration of a testing phase, and 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

01/02/2020

10/02/2020

Phase II

Structured Application Testing

 

04/13/2020

11/18/2020

Phase III

Unstructured Application Testing

 

04/13/2020

12/18/2020

Phase I – Common Record Manual Verification

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

During this testing phase, the COD School Testing Support Team manually reviews a Common Record document that an organization emails to the COD School Relations Center and assists the organization in the identification of potential updates to its Common Record submissions. This testing phase will be available from January 2, 2020 through October 2, 2020.

Phase II – Structured Application Testing

The purpose of Structured Application Testing is to ensure that an organization can send, receive, and process batches of records using comprehensive input instructions with detailed expected results issued by the COD School Relations Center. The organization 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, an organization sends Common Record documents to the COD System and receives response documents back from the COD System. The organization must verify that these files can be loaded and processed correctly in its system.

This testing phase will be available from April 13, 2020 through November 18, 2020. To participate in Phase II testing, an organization must complete Phase I testing first. If an organization completes Phase I testing before April 13, 2020, it must wait until the Phase II testing window opens.

Phase III – Unstructured Application Testing

The purpose of Unstructured Application Testing is to allow an organization 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 organization 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 13, 2020 through December 18, 2020.

COD School Testing Sign-Up Process

An organization registers for testing by completing the “COD School Testing 2020–21 Sign-up Document” posted on the COD Web Site's Home page under the “COD Resources” link.

An organization may register to participate in Phase I testing, in both Phase I and Phase II testing, or in Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III. To ensure enough time to complete all testing before the established testing end dates, organizations must register no later than September 18, 2020.

An organization 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 organization via email to obtain school-specific information and to schedule specific test dates.

Note: Upon receipt of the sign-up document, the COD School Testing Support Team must complete a considerable setup process to establish the organization/school in the COD test environment before testing can begin. Allow 7-10 business days for completion of the sign-up and set-up processes. An organization 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 1-800-848-0978. You may also email CODSupport@ed.gov.

   

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