SFA Information for Financial Aid Professionals
U.S. Department of Education
Summary: Student Financial Aid Year 2000 Project Status As of 6 December, 1999
Author: PSS - Program Systems Service
Posted on December 6, 1999
As of 6 December, 1999
We have 26 days remaining to prepare for Year 2000! Please review the Department of Education's Web pages for the latest in Y2K preparations.
New! Amendment to the Department's Y2K Act:
This is to bring to your attention concerning a recently enacted amendment to the Y2K Act (P.L. 106-37) and to remind institutions of the importance of testing student aid data exchanges with the Department's systems. Section 311 of the Department of Education's fiscal year 2000 appropriations act (P.L. 106-113) amends the Y2K Act to preclude the award of punitive damages in a Y2K action against an institution of higher education (IHE) relating to a computer-based student financial aid system under certain conditions. In particular, institutions should know that the prohibition against the award of punitive damages applies only to IHEs that have either passed Y2K data exchange testing with the Department of Education, or were in the process of performing data exchange testing at the time the Department terminates such testing.
For details refer to the Department's "Dear Partner" letter (GEN-99-38)--signed by SFA's Greg Woods, the Chief Operating Officer--discussing the new Y2K liability legislation affecting higher education institutions, along with the legislation itself and a set of Q's and A's providing the Department's advice and interpretations.
New! Acknowledgement of Institutions passing the test:
There are three ways an institution will know it has passed the tests. The first notice comes when an institution receives an electronic acknowledgement or rejection from the Department. This happens within 24 hours of each data exchange submission. Second, the Office of Student Financial Assistance sends the President of an institution a letter confirming positive test results for each system exchange tested. Finally, the Department places institutions that have passed particular tests on its student aid data exchange Honor Roll for that particular test. Please note that the second and third steps mentioned above may take a week or more from the test date to be completed.
New! Information on School Y2K Testing termination by the Department:
The testing windows for NSLDS, CPS, and Pell Grant system test close at midnight on December 17. The window for Direct Loans Origination system testing closes at midnight on December 21. Refer to the Department's WEB page for requirements to test. Schools testing with NSLDS should contact NSLDS by 10 December. This prior communications with NSLDS is required to facilitate the electronic transfer of test data to the school for testing. Testing with Pell Grant RFMS and Direct Loan Origination should start no later than 15 December and 20 December, respectively, to complete the data transfers within the last cycle of testing. The Department will not process test cases received out of the test schedule submission or after the testing windows close.
Scheduled Dates for Institution Testing
Contact Persons for the Y2K School Testing:
For general questions: Dan Callahan (202) 260 - 8644
For individual systems:
Central Processing System (CPS)
Frank Kidd (202) 260-0533 primary
Customer Service (800) 330-5947
Direct Loan Origination System (DLOS)
Chuck Mahaney (202) 708-7365 primary
Spencer Page (703) 294-4319
National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
Sandra Fowler (202) 260-1115 primary
George Moy (703) 560-5000 x 3556
Recipient Financial Management System (RFMS / Pell)
Jana Henderson (202) 708-8698 primary
Customer Service (800) 474-7268
If calling the CPS Customer Service number be sure to mention that your issue is related to Y2K testing so that your school will not be billed for the call. This is stated in the CPS Test Plan.
Statistics on Y2K Participating School Testing (as of 11/26/1999):
Servicer Role in Testing: (Updated on 12/06/99)
Our largest contingent of partners consists of the schools, and we have strongly urged that every school test its system with ours. Since many schools rely on third-party service providers for student aid servicing, we are soliciting those providers to test their data exchanges with each of our systems. Responses from the schools to our outreach program have included several requests that we encourage service providers to test with our systems, and to publicly acknowledge successes on our web site. If your school employs a servicer for processing postsecondary student aid programs with the Department, you are strongly encouraged to ask your servicer to test with the Department.
However, there is one exception. If an institution normally uses the National Student Loan Clearinghouse for submission of Student Status Confirmation Reports (SSCRs) to the Department, the institution should not have to perform the SSCR aspect of the NSLDS data exchange testing in order to qualify for this protection from Y2K liability. This is because, as part of the Department of Education's End-to-End testing process, the National Student Loan Clearinghouse SSCR process was tested satisfactorily with the Department. This test was performed to validate the data exchange between the Department and the Clearinghouse. This exchange test did not validate the data exchange between the institution and the Clearinghouse.
Business Contingency Planning: (Updated on 11/26/99)
The Office of Student Financial Assistance posted to the Department's web site (http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocio/index.html) its contingency plan that was submitted to OMB on June 15, 1999. This plan provides business continuity should there be a disruption related to the Year 2000 problem in any of the OSFA mission critical business processes. We have revised the plan and recently posted the revisions to the web site. The following individual business process plans are revised: Student Aid Origination and Disbursement; Lender and Guaranty Agency Payments; Repayment and Collections; Customer Service; and FFEL Origination, Disbursement, Repayment, and Collections. These revisions include plans that replace the previous ED plans that would have advanced funds to schools in December 1999 from what would have been normal January 2000 disbursements. We encourage you to review and comment on this plan. We also encourage you to develop contingency plans for your critical business processes so that there will not be any disruptions at your institution. To ensure that the OSFA contingency plan will work in the unlikely event that there is a Y2K disruption, we are testing the plans. This testing will continue through early December. We will be conducting a session on Y2K readiness, including contingency planning, at the upcoming Department's San Antonio Electronic Access Conference (EAC). The session "Are Your Systems Ready to Power Up for YR - 2000" (Session #38) will be from 10:30 AM to 11:45 AM on December 16th and from 1:15 PM to 2:30 PM on December 17th.
In conclusion, OSFA wants to ensure that the student financial assistance community will not be disrupted on account of the Year 2000 problem. The SFA Year 2000 project team may be reached via email at: OPE_Y2K@ED.GOV.