Posted Date: December 27, 2011

Author:  William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Operational Implementation Guidance - The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 and January Start-Up of 2012-2013 FAFSA on the Web, FAA Access to CPS Online, and the CPS

The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 made several changes to the Title IV student assistance programs. Among them is a reduction in the maximum income that makes an applicant eligible for an automatic zero Expected Family Contribution (auto zero EFC). Prior to this change the income threshold for the 2012-2013 Award Year would have been $32,000. Under the amended law that amount will be $23,000. This announcement informs the financial aid community that the 2012-2013 FAFSA on the Web and 2012-2013 FAA Access to CPS Online Web sites will be available to users on schedule on January 1, 2012 with the updated auto-zero EFC income threshold amounts. In addition, the Central Processing System (CPS) will begin processing 2012-2013 Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSAs) on schedule on January 3, 2012 using the updated amounts.

Note: On December 27, 2011 we posted an update to the 2012-2013 Application Processing System Specifications for Software Developers to include the change in the Auto Zero EFC edits from $32,000 to $23,000. We will be posting updates to other technical documentation in the near future.

While the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 maintains, for the 2012-2013 Award Year a maximum Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant) award amount of $5,550, it does include a change to the calculation of eligibility for a student to receive the minimum Pell Grant award. This change results in 4995 being the maximum EFC for a 2012-2013 Pell Grant award. Details on the changed calculation for determining an applicant’s eligibility for the minimum award, as well as the 2012-2013 Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement schedules will be provided within the next two weeks.

While the January start-up for the 2012-2013 Award Year will include the revised auto-zero EFC income threshold, we will need to initially process 2012-2013 transactions using 2011-2012 Pell Grant amounts. Once the Pell Grant calculation details have been confirmed to reflect the changes noted above, and the payment schedules finalized, we will inform the community of the schedule for reprocessing the expected small number of applicants whose EFC will change.

Please monitor the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site for additional information about other changes made to the Title IV student aid programs by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 as well as further information regarding operational implementation of these legislative changes in all of our impacted systems and the anticipated completion dates for these modifications.

Contact Information

If you have questions regarding the updates to FAA Access to CPS Online or to the CPS, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806) or by e-mail at

If your students have questions about FAFSA on the Web, ask them to contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800/4-FEDAID (800/433-3243) or by e-mail at TDD/TTY service is also available at 800/730-8913.


End of Page