Federal Student Aid - IFAP

Award Year: 2007-2008

Chapter: --What's New in the 2007-2008 Federal Student Aid Handbook

Section: --What's New in the 2007-2008 Federal Student Aid Handbook

Posted on 10-10-2007

handbook cover What's New in the 2007-2008 Federal Student Aid Handbook

This page lists the items that changed from last year's edition of the FSA Handbook. For questions about the Handbook contents, contact the Schools Publications staff at: fsaschoolspubs@ed.gov

To order copies of the Handbook after it has been shipped to schools, please see the FSA Publications Web page.

Application and Verification Guide

Most of the changes for this edition of the AVG arise from the Higher Education Reconciliation Act (HERA) that became law in February of 2006, though a few other revisions noted below are not related to the HERA.

Chapter 2   Filling Out the Application
P. AVG-12   We added to the margin note on income earned from work the instruction that now appears on the FAFSA on how to account for partnership income so that a more accurate social security tax allowance and employment expense allowance are included in the expected family contribution (EFC) calculation.
P. AVG-19   This page includes guidance pertaining to the exclusion of small businesses from assets, which is now effective because of the HERA.
P. AVG-19 and 20   we have updated the text for the newly uniform treatment in the need analysis of qualified tuition programs and Coverdell education savings accounts and for their categorization as qualified education benefits.
P. AVG-21   We amended the guidance regarding treatment of an asset that has a lien against it. The asset is still counted on the FAFSA, as previously, but now the amount of the lien is to be deducted along with any debt owed on the asset to determine its net worth.
P. AVG-23   We added a paragraph on the new category of independent students: active duty members of the military.
P. AVG-25   There was a margin note that dealt with schools added to transactions that contained a dependency override. These schools then received an ISIR that contained the override. Because the CPS does not now permit schools to be added to transactions with overrides, we removed the note.
P. AVG-30    This page discusses the new federal means-tested benefit option for the tax return requirement of the simplified needs and automatic zero EFC calculations.

Chapter 3   Expected Family Contribution
The EFC chapter contains the HERA-related changes to the elements of the need analysis: the income protection allowances, employment expense allowances, and student asset multiplication factors were all favorably adjusted by the HERA for the student.

P. AVG-37   We added a margin note on page 37 about claiming the tuition and fees tax deduction or the educator expenses deduction on the IRS's Form 1040. This need not make a student or parent ineligible for consideration for the simplified needs calculation or automatic zero EFC.
We received inquiries about why using a zero on the FAFSA in place of a negative AGI from the tax return yields a different EFC. Since the worksheets for the EFC formulas direct users to substitute a zero for a negative AGI, wouldn't it be proper to make the same substitution on the FAFSA? It is not proper, and we explain this in a margin note on page 37.

Chapter 4   Verification
P. AVG-84   We added text allowing for an e-signature option for verification documents and text excluding a signed IRS e-file Signature Authorization (Form 8879) as a substitute for a signature on a tax return.

Chapter 5   Corrections, Updates, and Adjustments
P. AVG-99   We added a margin note reminding you that the section of the Higher Education Act authorizing the use of discretion by financial aid administrators, Section 479A, contains not only the provisions for adjusting the cost of attendance or the data used in the EFC calculation (paragraph a), but also the provisions that permit an FAA to refuse to certify or originate a FFEL or Direct loan or to reduce the loan amount (paragraph c). The reason must be documented in writing, given to the student, and must not be based on discrimination.

Volume 1: Student Eligibility

The biggest change to this volume for 2007-08 is the addition of a new Chapter 6, ACG and National SMART Grant Eligibility (the former Chapter 6 became Chapter 7). Two new Title IV grants, the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (National SMART) Grant, were created as a result of the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (HERA), Pub. L. 109-171, enacted on February 8, 2006. Some of the other changes listed below relate to the HERA and some do not.

Chapter 1   School-Determined Requirements
P. 1-4   We noted two things about remedial coursework (if it is to be paid for with Title IV funds): that it cannot be below the educational level that would allow the student to pursue her program after one year of the coursework and that it cannot use direct assessment of student learning in lieu of credit or clock hours. On the same page we transferred some text from Volume 2 pertaining to ESL classes.
P. 1-5   The same restriction above regarding remedial coursework and direct assessment also applies to teacher certification coursework. We added a phrase to the bullet at the bottom of page 5 about the acceptability of foreign high school diplomas, and we amended the sidebar note regarding valid diplomas to indicate that state departments of education do not have oversight of all high schools.
P. 1-9   There is a new ability-to-benefit test entry on page 9: the ESL Placement Test. Also, the CELSA passing scores were raised from 90 to 97.
P. 1-12   The HERA brought changes to the drug conviction eligibility criterion.
P. 1-15   The treatment of telecommunications courses changed due to the HERA.

Chapter 2   Citizenship
Pp. 21, 23, and 24   Victims of human trafficking and their close relatives have been added as a category of eligible noncitizens; see the pertinent text on these pages.
Pp. 27-33   The G-845 form has replaced the G-845S; the differences between the two are reflected in the instructions on using the form found on these pages.
In the margin of page 27 we noted that the USCIS is gradually reducing the number of its field offices that are processing the G-845 form, and we give instructions on determining the field office that you will send the form to.
We also noted in the margin of that page that the purpose of the G-845 is to determine the student’s immigration status; you must use that information along with the guidance in Chapter 2 to determine if a student is eligible for Title IV aid.

Chapter 7   Other Program Requirements
P. 71   We specified the loan limits for preparatory coursework because they did not increase as did the other loan limits, and we added a margin note on taking preparatory coursework at a different school from the one offering the program the student is preparing for.
P. 75   There is a new sidebar note stating that the requirement that a student must meet the general eligibility criteria applies to all the component funds of the LEAP Program.

Volume 2: School Eligibility and Operations

IN GENERAL: The only substantive changes are the addition of new material in Chapter 4 on Direct Assessment programs, and the revision of Chapters 3 and 9 to cover HERA changes to school lender requirements, and the treatment of Distance Education programs, respectively.

Chapter 1
Pp. 2-5, 2-6, 2-11   Several corrections were made to eliminate references to the "ability to benefit limitation." (The limitation is not specifically directed to ATB students, but more broadly to any students who are admitted without a high school diploma or equivalent.)

Chapter 2
P. 2-17   Updated the steps in the application process and combined into a single chart.
P. 2-18   Added language on default management plans for new schools.
P. 2-20   Language added from 668.14(g) and (h), and 668.26(a) that explains when the Program Participation Agreement (PPA) expires.
P. 2-21ff   The list of PPA elements has been corrected and updated to conform to the current document; cross-references have been added to the relevant chapters in the Handbook for each requirement.

Chapter 3
P. 2-28   Discussion of school acting as lender has been updated to reflect HERA changes.
Pp. 2-34, 2-36   Descriptions of drug/alcohol prevention requirements and Anti-Lobbying Certification and Disclosure revised for clarity.
P. 2-39   Discussions of voter registration and preparatory programs revised for clarity and consistency with the regulations. These discussions have been moved to the end of the chapter, because they affect relatively few schools.

Chapter 4
Pp. 2-44 and 45   A description of ACG/SMART programs and direct assessment programs have been added from the HERA regulations

Chapter 5
Pp. 2-50 and 51   Definition for change of ownership/control revised for clarity; regulatory language for a 'closely-held corporation' has been added.
P. 2-52   Added sidebar notes to address partnership/sole proprietorship and parent corporation.
Pp. 2-59 and 2-60   The list of application changes that formerly appeared in the body text has been integrated with the chart that lists these changes.

Chapter 6
The reporting instructions for IPEDS, EADA, and Campus Crime have been eliminated, because newer and more comprehensive instructions are now posted on the respective Web sites for these surveys. We have retained the reporting deadlines and the description of the information that must be given to the student and parents, along with specific links to the survey Web sites.
The references to consumer information and counseling resources have been updated to match current products provided by ED.
P. 2-77   Updated the description of the Default Management Plan, which no longer appears in regulation, but was most recently issued as a part of a 2005 Dear Colleague Letter.
P. 2-85   Added sample notice that schools may use to announce the availability of the annual security report.

Chapter 8
This chapter has been extensively revised to reflect the HERA change to the treatment of telecommunications courses, and the creation of a new regulatory definition of telecommunications coursework.

Chapter 9
Pp. 2-108 to 2-111   The discussion of FERPA requirements has been revised for clarity.

Chapter 10
P. 2-121ff   The discussion of "Satisfactory Academic Progress" has been reorganized and subheadings have been added to clearly identify topics such as the quantitative standard and qualitative standard.
P. 2-133   The sample debarment/suspension certification statement (for lower-tier organizations) has been added to the sidebar, since the original document (DCL GEN-89-21) is unlikely to be accessible to schools.

Chapter 11
P. 2-137   Time frame for return of unearned funds changed from 30 days to 45 days, based on HERA. Time frame for endorsement of check changed from 45 days to 60 days.

Volume 3: Calculating Awards and Packaging

Chapter 1
p. 3-2   Updated Academic year requirements for Direct Assessment programs and clock-hour programs.
p. 3-5   Added new payment period citations for ACG/SMART and Direct Assessment.
p. 3-17   Added new citations: 1) Direct Assessment enrollment status and 2) Direct Assessment academic year & week of instructional time.
p. 3-17   Direct Assessment program payment periods discussion and reg citation added.

Chapter 2
p. 3-20   Added guidance on one time direct cost of obtaining first professional license or certificate COA component.
p. 3-20   Added guidance and DCL citation on reduced origination fees COA component.
p. 3-20-21   Added guidance, reg citation, HEA citation, and DCL citation on allowance for less than half-time room and board COA.
p. 3-22   HERA Change to EFA discussion, w/HEA and DCL citation.

Chapter 4
p. 3-59 through 76   New chapter added on Calculating ACG & SMART Grants.

Chapter 5
p. 3-84   Added Stafford/PLUS loan limits HEA, and DCL citations, revised loan limits discussion.
p. 3-90   Grad and Professional PLUS HEA, DCL citations and PLUS graduate/professional loan eligibility discussion added.
p. 3-97   Updated guidance on when to review unallocated amounts for an FFEL consolidation loan. Updated (removed) guidance on outdated unallocated loan amounts that are counted towards the aggregate limit.

Chapter 6
p. 3-106   Guidance on FSEOG awarding clarified.
p. 3-107   Establishing categories for FSEOG awards guidance expanded, FSEOG of less than $501 guidance added.

Chapter 7
p. 3-114-115   Revised discussion of Packaging rules for ACG/SMART, Campus-Based, and Stafford/PLUS. Updated guidance on language-Estimated Financial Assistance vs. resources, w/HEA and DCL citations.
p. 3-115   New sidebar on treatment of prepaid tuition plans, with DCL and HEA citations.
p. 3-115   Imported sidebar note from Ch 5 on packaging for a parent PLUS borrower who chooses not to apply for Stafford.
p. 3-115   Requirement to consider grants and sub loans first sidebar reg citations added.
p. 3-116   New example/graphic on grad/professional PLUS packaging added.
p. 3-119   New sidebar cross-reference for non 9-month EFCs added.
p. 3-122   Vocational rehabilitation packaging guidance sidebar added.
p. 3-123   ACG/SMART overaward limitation sidebar added.
p. 3-123   Campus-Based overaward packaging guidance added.

Volume 4: Disbursing & Managing FSA Funds

Chapter 1   The MPN and the Stafford/PLUS Loan Process
P. 4-11   We explain that as a result of the HERA, for loans certified or originated on or after July 1, 2006, graduate and professional students are now eligible to borrow under the PLUS Loan Program in both the FFEL and Direct Loan programs.
P. 4-11   We have added a section explaining the processing of PLUS loans for graduate and professional students.
P. 4-11   We note the limitations on using the multi-year feature of the PLUS MPN at foreign schools.
P. 4-12   We explain what graduate/professional students must do in order to be eligible to apply for PLUS Loans.

Chapter 2   Disbursing Federal Student Aid Funds
P. 4-40   We remind schools that a student begins earning Title IV funds on his or her first day of attendance, and that even if a student withdraws before a school's census date, the school must perform a Return calculation using the number of days or the number of scheduled clock hours the student attended class as the numerator in STEP 2, Part H.
P. 4-40   We remind schools that they must return funds disbursed to a student who failed to begin attendance immediately after discovering that he or she failed to begin attendance, and that a school may not ignore information available to any office at the school indicating that a student failed to begin attendance.
P. 4-41   We explain that the statutory provisions providing schools with low default rates leeway in disbursing Stafford loans have been restored.
P. 4-50   We describe the conditions under which a school may make a late disbursement of ACG or National SMART Grant funds.
P. 4-52   We explain what information a school must provide when it contacts a student before making a late disbursement of Title IV funds.
P. 4-52   We describe the flexibility schools have in contacting students before making late disbursements.

Volume 5: Overawards, Overpayments and Withdrawal Calculations

Chapter 1   Overpayments and Overawards
P. 5-5   The law provides that a student's ACG or National SMART Grant, when combined with a student's expected family contribution and estimated financial assistance may not exceed the student's cost of attendance under section 472 of the HEA. We have updated the text to reflect the way schools must resolve overawards containing ACT or National SMART Grant funds.
P. 5-9   We have added a section explaining how a resolved overaward may become an overpayment if the student ceases attendance before the end of the current payment period.
P. 5-13   We remind schools that although HERA increased the de minimus threshold for overpayments due to withdrawal, the de minimus amount for all other overpayments remains less than $25.
P. 5-14   We remind schools that regardless of the type of loan (FFEL or Direct) consolidated and no matter the type of consolidated loan the student obtained, if a student has consolidated the loan(s) that exceeded the annual or aggregate loan limit, he or she is considered to have made satisfactory arrangements to repay the debt, and no additional action on the part of the student is required in order to regain Title IV eligibility when the loss of eligibility was due solely to exceeding those loan maximums.

Chapter 2   Withdrawals and the Return of Title IV Funds
P. 5-22   We remind schools that a student begins earning Title IV funds on his or her first day of attendance, and that even if a student withdraws before a school’s census date, the school must perform a Return calculation using the number of days or the number of scheduled clock hours the student attended class as the numerator in STEP 2, Part H.
We updated the text to reflect the fact that under the HERA:
P. 5-25   the number of days schools have to return funds has changed from 30 to 45;
P. 5-44   the types of Title IV aid that must be included in a Return calculation has changed;
P. 5-77   schools include only scheduled hours when determining the percentage of the period completed by a student withdrawing from a clock-hour program;
P. 5-83   the required notifications and authorizations required before a school can make post-withdrawal disbursements has changed;
P. 5-83   schools may now give students more than 14 days to respond to an offer of a post-withdrawal disbursement;
P. 5-90   a school must return unearned funds for which it is responsible as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days from the determination of a student’s withdrawal;
P. 5-92   a student must repay to the amount by which the original overpayment amount exceeds 50 percent of the total grant funds received by the student for the payment period or period of enrollment;
P. 5-96   the de minimus amount a student must repay is now $50, and therefore a grant overpayment of $50 or less will not make the student ineligible to receive Title IV, HEA program assistance should the student return to school;
Beginning on p. 5-112   We provide new worksheets schools can use in performing return calculations, tracking postwithdrawal disbursements, and referring students to ED for collection.

Case Studies
Beginning on Page 5-121   As required, we have updated the case studies to reflect the changes made by the HERA.

Volume 6: Campus-Based Programs

p. 6-i New citation: DCL on New Process for Accessing the eCampus-Based System (CB-06-14).

Chapter 1
p. 6-14  Updated citation: DCL on use of state scholarships and grants as non-federal share of FSEOG (CB-06-03).
p. 6-23  Updated citation: DCL on Perkins Assignment (CB-06-23).

Chapter 2
p. 6-39  New citation: Work for Private for-profits (34 CFR 675.23).
p. 6-48  Updated citation: DCL on Application to participate in the Work-Colleges program (CB-07-02).

Chapter 3
p. 6-60  New citation: DCL on New Perkins eMPN (CB-06-11).

Chapter 4
p. 6-76   New citation: DCL on Total and Permanent Disability Loan Discharge Application (GEN-06-14).
p. 6-77   Updated URL: Searchable database of closed schools.
p. 6-86   Military Service Perkins Deferment discussion, regulatory citation (34 CFR 674.34(h)) added.
p. 6-94   New citation: DCL on Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application and Forbearance (CB-06-13).
p. 6-97   Updated URL: Directory of Low-Income schools for purposes of Perkins cancellation eligibility.
p. 6-102   Updated citation: DCL on Cancellation reimbursement (CB-06-07).

Chapter 5
p. 6-124   Updated citation: DCL on Revised Assignment Form and Procedures (CB-06-12).
p. 6-125   New Assignment under e-signed or Perkins MPN discussion.
p. 6-125   New Reporting Date(s) of First Disbursement on loan manifest discussion.
p. 6-126   Updated URL: Perkins Cohort Default Rate booklet.