As explained in a December 13, 2019 Electronic Announcement, we completed a first step in the Next Gen FSA initiative and consolidated several student-facing websites into an enhanced version of StudentAid.gov, our single front door on the web for students, parents, and borrowers. On February 23, 2020, we will introduce additional features designed to promote financial literacy for borrowers and improve the information and self-service tools available to our customers. The new features provide our customers clearer information about the aid they have received and personalized guidance in the loan repayment process.
This announcement summarizes the three new features that will be available – Aid Summary, Loan Simulator, and Make a Payment pilot.
New StudentAid.gov Website Features
On February 23, 2020, we will add the following features to the StudentAid.gov website—
Aid Summary – This feature will provide authenticated users with an aid summary dashboard that displays information about all of the Title IV aid they have received (populated using National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) data). Customers will be able to “drill down” to view detailed information about each individual grant, loan, and aid overpayment. Customers will also be able to keep track of their remaining eligibility for Direct Subsidized Loans (Subsidized Usage Limit Applied – SULA) and Federal Pell Grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants (Lifetime Eligibility Used – LEU). In addition, by using dropdown menu options to navigate to other sections of their aid summary, students will be able to view detailed information about their demographic/contact data, campus/program enrollment and lender/lender servicer access authorizations.
Borrowers will be able to see their progress toward repaying their loans, receive alerts about their accounts, and if applicable, track the number of qualifying payments made toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). In addition, the aid summary will include information about a borrower’s loan servicer and a link to the loan servicer’s website.
Note: Following the implementation, financial aid administrators (FAAs) and call center support will have limited access to the “Student View” from the NSLDS Professional Access (FAP) website. FAAs will be able to see some of the content available to students, but it will not be an exact match, nor will it be as interactive as a student’s experience. We encourage FAAs to rely on the professional view for more detailed data. In the future, we plan to develop a similar resource that will allow FAAs and call center support to have a more consistent view of the student experience.
Loan Simulator – This new tool will provide borrowers more personalized information about their federal student loan repayment options. It replaces the existing Repayment Estimator which will be retired following implementation weekend.
In addition to pulling borrowers’ loan data from NSLDS, the tool will guide borrowers through a series of questions about their situation (to gather information such as earnings and family composition). Loan Simulator lets borrowers chart a course that accounts for their desired repayment strategy, offering the ability to choose a repayment plan that provides them with the lowest monthly payment, the fastest payoff, or the lowest amount paid overall. Borrowers who are interested in PSLF can factor that option into their repayment strategy.
The result will include repayment amount estimates as well as a repayment strategy that reflects the borrower’s situation and eligibility. Borrowers can easily compare options or use a different repayment strategy simply by changing their answers to the guided questions.
Loan Simulator will be available to users even if they are not logged in to the StudentAid.gov website. However, the results will not be personalized using the authenticated borrower’s data from NSLDS; instead the results will be based only on the information manually entered by that user.
Users of Loan Simulator will note that some functionality is marked as “Coming Soon.” We plan to launch, over the coming months, the ability for users to compare their options when in financial hardship, as well as simulate borrowing more loans or going back to school. We will provide more information about this functionality when it becomes available.
Note: As was the case with the Repayment Estimator, the new tool is not intended to provide final eligibility determination for a repayment plan or final repayment amount information. Only the borrower’s servicer can determine repayment plan eligibility or actual repayment amounts under a selected repayment plan.
Make a Payment Pilot (for Great Lakes and Nelnet borrowers only) – This pilot will be available only to borrowers whose loans are in repayment and assigned to Great Lakes or Nelnet as their federal loan servicer (for their loans owned by the Department). These borrowers will be able to schedule their upcoming payment on their loan(s) directly through the StudentAid.gov website. Note: For the pilot, the payment amount will be limited to a borrower’s scheduled payment amount only; if a borrower wants to pay more than the scheduled amount, he or she will need to use the servicer’s website to make the payment.
As noted in the earlier announcement, eventually we plan to provide the ability for borrowers to make payments on all federally owned student loans through the StudentAid.gov website. Until we expand the pilot beyond Great Lakes and Nelnet, borrowers assigned to the other federal loan servicers will continue to be directed to their servicer’s website to make payments.
Additional Tools and Features Available Throughout 2020
As we move forward in 2020, additional tools and features will be introduced to improve our customers’ understanding of the Title IV aid programs. Details about new tools and features, including information about the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement process coming in April 2020, will be provided in forthcoming Electronic Announcements posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website. Additional information about the Next Gen FSA initiative will also be provided through partner emails, social media posts, and targeted outreach campaigns to ensure everyone knows what to expect going forward.
We appreciate your patience and support as we implement the Next Gen FSA initiative.