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Latest from FSA: Ask a FED

November 26, 2014

bartnickiFederal Training Officer David Bartnicki recently shared these updates:

Verification

In lieu of a paper W-2, a school may accept a wage and income transcript from the IRS which contains all of the W-2 information as long as it is received in a timely manner to complete the verification process. We hope to include this information in a future notice.

Courses Outside a Program of Study

Based upon recent questions and compliance concerns I wanted to remind schools that Title IV aid cannot be used to pay for courses that fall outside of a student’s program of study, with the exception of remedial coursework or preparatory coursework. In the FSA HDBK Vol. 1 page 14 we state – “If a student is enrolled in courses that do not count toward his degree, certificate, or other recognized credential, and they cannot be used to determine enrollment status unless they are eligible remedial courses. This means you cannot award the student aid for classes that do not count toward his degree, certificate, or other recognized credential.”

This approach stems from our definition of a regular student in 34 CFR 600.2 which states that a regular student is one that – “ is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential offered by that institution.” In other words, Title IV funds are generally intended to pay for courses that go towards a student’s program of study to assist them in obtaining an academic credential.

As mentioned, two exceptions to this general understanding is remedial and preparatory coursework. If a student is accepted into a program of study and needs to take remedial coursework as part of their program, they can be paid Title IV funds for up to one academic year’s worth of remedial coursework (30 semester hours, 45 quarter hours, and 900 clock hours).

In addition, a student not enrolled in a degree or certificate program is eligible for Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans (and a parent may receive Direct PLUS Loans on behalf of a dependent student) for up to one year (one consecutive 12-month period) if he/she is taking coursework necessary for enrollment in an eligible program and is enrolled in those courses at least halftime. This coursework is often referred to as preparatory or prerequisite coursework since in order to receive any Title IV aid for these types of courses the coursework must be required to be admitted into a program of study. Please note that if a student is already admitted into a program, Title IV aid cannot be used to pay for preparatory or prerequisite coursework. For more information about preparatory and prerequisite coursework, please see the FSA HDBK Vol. 1, chapters 1 and 6.

Perkins Liquidation and Assignment

ED posted an electronic announcement on November 13, 2014 announcing that complete information about Federal Perkins Loan Portfolio liquidation and assignment is now available in a permanent, centralized location on the Campus-Based Processing Information Page on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site. From the IFAP Web site’s home page, click on the Processing Resources box then click on the Campus-Based Processing Information link. Perkins Liquidation and Assignment information is highlighted in an orange box on the right side of the page. Changes or updates to Perkins liquidation or assignment documents will be brought to the community’s attention through future electronic announcements.

FSEOG and FWS waivers

I have been getting a lot of questions lately on whether or not schools have to annually apply for a FSEOG and FWS waiver of matching funds. The timeframe really depends on whether you currently have a TITLE III/V grant or not. In order to obtain a waiver for matching funds for FSEOG or FWS, a school must be eligible to apply for a TITLE III/V grant. In order to see if a school would be eligible to apply for a TITLE III/V grant, a school must apply electronically with OPE. If approved, a school will obtain a waiver for matching funds for FSEOG and FWS for one year. However, if the school actually applies for and receives a TITLE III/V grant, the school can receive a waiver for FWS/FSEOG matching funds for the duration of their TITLE III/V grant.

For specifics about the electronic application process to apply for a new grant under the Title III or Title V programs or in requesting a waiver of the non-Federal cost share for FWS and/or FSEOG, please see the federal register dated 11/3/14 – http://ifap.ed.gov/fregisters/attachments/FR110314.pdf. Please note that all applications must be received by December 18, 2014. If you have questions about your current waiver duration or any concerns about the FSEOG/FWS waiver of matching funds process, please feel free to contact the Campus-Based Call Center at 877-801-7168.

FSA Training Conference

I cannot believe that the FSA Training Conference is just around the corner. For those schools planning on attending, here are just a few reminders:

1) Registration

  • Registration will close on Friday, November 21. If you are registered, but no longer plan to attend, you can cancel your registration by clicking on the cancellation link in your confirmation e-mail, or by contacting fsaconferences@ed.gov. If you would like to register, please go to the FSA conference website (http://fsaconferences.ed.gov/atlanta14.html) and click on registration.

2) Lodging

3) Ask-a-Fed Appointments

  • Do you have questions that may require more time than a quick visit to the Ask-a-Fed area? If so, you can schedule a 30-minute one-on-one appointment (on the hour or half hour) with an Ask-a-Fed representative. Appointment times are available Tuesday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.
  • To request an appointment, please send an e-mail with three date and time preferences to AskAFed@ed.gov no later than 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, November 26. We will schedule your appointment and send you an e-mail confirmation. Appointments are available on a first- come, first-served basis. If you are unable to schedule an appointment, there will be plenty of FSA staff available to assist you throughout the day at our Ask-a-Fed area in the Resource Center.

4) Session Presentations, Program and Agenda

  • Beginning on November 19, we will post session presentations as they become available. Please go to the FSA Conference website (http://fsaconferences.ed.gov/atlanta14.html) and click on the sessions and agenda link to view posted presentations.

Concierge Corner: Updating Borrower Demographics and Submitting Documents to Nelnet

November 25, 2014

Keeping your student borrowers’ accounts with Nelnet up to date is very important. If you are needing to submit a deferment or forbearance form or update demographic information for your student borrowers, there are a couple of ways you can do this:

  • Upload your document(s) and email them to submitmyforms@nelnet.net. Please include a brief description of what you are requesting on the student’s account.
  • Upload your document(s) and submit them through Nsight Plus, our free online school reporting tool. You will use the ‘Contact Us/Upload Docs’ tab.

If you do not already have an Nsight Plus account, it’s quick and easy to set one up. Just go to NelnetLoanServicing.com/Nsight and fill out our short electronic sign up form.

Of course, you may also contact Nelnet’s School Service Center to update a student borrower’s demographics by calling 866.463.5638 or email ssc@nelnet.net. The School Service Center is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern).

For more information about submitting borrower documentation or about Nsight Plus, feel free to contact your Nelnet Regional Director.

 

 

Angie Coleman, Concierge Representative, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Angie Coleman, Concierge Representative, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Nelnet Improving Website Security to Avoid POODLE Vulnerability

November 14, 2014

Google recently reported a vulnerability in SSLv3, an online security protocol that encrypts a website user’s data to keep it secure. The vulnerability, known as Padding Oracle on Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE), allows attackers to get past this security and access a user’s account without a password.

If no action was taken, POODLE could potentially affect any portion of our websites that requires a login and supports SSLv3, such as online borrower accounts and Nsight Plus. We want to reassure you that Nelnet is quickly taking necessary steps to protect you and your students. Here’s how:

  • We have made the decision to stop supporting SSLv3.
  • We have notified critical vendors of our decision to stop supporting SSLv3.
  • We are identifying all applications that could be affected by POODLE.
  • We are finalizing a plan to disable SSLv3 and ensure that more advanced security protocols are supported throughout Nelnet.

Our current timeline for these changes is targeted for November 25, 2014. You and your students will not see anything different when accessing our websites unless you have a very outdated browser (ten years or more). In that case, you will be redirected to a warning page that explains the danger of continuing and recommends upgrading to a more current browser version.

For more information, you can visit:

If you have further questions, feel free to fill out our contact form.

 

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

NEW Resource: What Student Loan Borrowers Need to Know About Nelnet

November 14, 2014

Educating student loan borrowers is no easy task. There is an overwhelming amount of information for students to absorb, and it can be difficult to capture their attention long enough to share it all. To help you more effectively and efficiently communicate these important details to your students who have loans serviced by Nelnet, we’ve created a new resource — Nelnet: What Borrowers Need to Know.

borrower pdfThis one-page document, available in color or black and white, covers the key things Nelnet borrowers need to know about their student loans. The information included is short, easy to understand, and broken up by topic, making this guide not only a great educational tool, but also a reference that students can keep and continually come back to. Covered in the guide is:

  • What a servicer does
  • How Nelnet can help students
  • First steps students should take after taking out a student loan
  • Federal student loan stages
  • Ways Nelnet borrowers can make a payment
  • How students can lower their payments
  • Where financial literacy resources can be found
  • Nelnet contact information
  • And more!

This resource was suggested by one of our school partners, so we’re excited by the potential it has to be useful in your financial aid office. Here are some ways we think you can implement Nelnet: What Borrowers Need to Know at your school:

  • Email it to student borrowers with loans serviced by Nelnet
  • Share printed copies with student borrowers with loans serviced by Nelnet during entrance/exit counseling or other in-person meetings
  • Add the link to the PDF to your website
  • Share the link to the PDF on your blog or social media

For additional resources, please visit our library.

 

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Kristin Tobias, Communications Coordinator, Nelnet

Latest from FSA: First Servicing Summit

November 13, 2014

The Department of Education recently announced that it will host its first Servicing Summit on Monday, December 1, 2014, in advance of the 2014 FSA Training Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The purpose of this one-day session is to explore various topics of interest to student borrowers, consumer advocates, financial aid administrators, and policy makers. The session will conclude with a town hall meeting hosted by Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, who, along with other senior Department officials, will be available to answer questions from participants.

Attendance for this event is limited to 200 participants, so if you are interested in joining, register now at http://fsaconferences.ed.gov/servicingsummit.html.

As a reminder, Nelnet will be attending this event, as well as providing support throughout the FSA Conference in the Resource Center located in GWCC Building A, Level 3 Open Foyer.

For more information, please see the original Electronic Announcement from FSA: http://ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/102914LSI2014ServicingSummit120114.html.

 

Ron Hancock, National Manager, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Ron Hancock, National Manager, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Latest from FSA: Confirmation of TG Numbers and Electronic Services User Accounts Required Soon

November 13, 2014

As a reminder, every organization enrolled for a Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) account is required to review and validate its assigned TG numbers by December 12, 2014. Currently, approximately 80 percent of accounts still require validation. Failure to complete this process by December 12, 2014 will result in loss of access to Federal Student Aid data systems, including services such as Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) deliveries, ISIR requests, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) corrections, and National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) enrollment reporting and updates.

For information, please see FSA’s original Electronic Announcement: http://ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/111014ReminderActiveConfirmTGNumbersRequiredby121214.html.

 

Ron Hancock, National Manager, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Ron Hancock, National Manager, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Nelnet’s Approach to Addressing Third Party Student Debt Relief Companies

November 13, 2014

alertRecently, Nelnet has been receiving a number of Limited Power of Attorney (LPOA) forms from third party student aid companies.These companies are claiming the ability to reduce or eliminate student loan debt and charging borrowers fees for services that Nelnet and other Title IV servicers offer for free. In addition, some are attempting to change borrower contact information to the contact information of their company so that our borrower communications go to the third party company instead of the borrower.

When an LPOA is received in which the borrower has granted a third party company overreaching powers to manage their loans, the form is denied and a denial letter is sent to the borrower. This usually generates a phone call from the borrower, during which the borrower is apprised of their repayment options and informed that the services they are paying for are available through Nelnet, free of charge.

In addition, a weekly report is run, matching the known contact information of these third party companies to those of our borrowers. If the borrower contact information has been changed to the contact information of one of these companies, we revert to the borrower’s original contact information and a letter will be sent to the borrower explaining why this occurred. If the borrower does not have a prior address on file, we will work to obtain current information.

Individual power of attorney requests or requests made outside the domain of third party debt relief companies are still honored by Nelnet.

At Nelnet, our customers come first. We want to make sure our borrowers are taken care of and will continue to combat this issue!