ED Commits to February 16 Delivery Date for Test ISIRs and Provides Additional Details on its FAFSA College Support Strategy

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

The Department of Education (ED) in an electronic announcement on Friday evening provided additional information on three key components of its “FAFSA College Support Strategy,” and also committed to releasing test versions of Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) by no later than February 16, 2024.

The department said they are “on track” to release test versions of ISIRs, which will enable institutions to prepare their own systems and processes for assembling financial aid award packages.

ED also said that they are working directly with vendors and states to discuss how the test data can be used.

“Specifically, we are working with these critical links to campuses to understand how they build their aid management software, how they use these test ISIRs, and which aspects they are keen to test first,” the February 9 notice reads. “The Department will also provide open-source tools to support institutions using test ISIRs next week.”

As a part of Friday’s announcement the department also outlined key components of their recently unveiled “FAFSA College Support Strategy.”

Those key areas include the department's efforts to deploy federal personnel and expertise to assist with the delivery of the 2024-25 FAFSA form, details on the funding partnership being used to bolster technical assistance and support, and tools to help schools process student records and deliver aid packages.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced the department’s new FAFSA strategy at NASFAA's Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo on Tuesday, where he said that the administration would focus on providing assistance to lower-resourced schools that may have fewer administrative staff in their financial aid offices and older software systems.

NASFAA has prepared to meet the department’s call for support and has begun to reach out to financial aid experts by seeking an “emergency corps of consultants.” These individuals will utilize their expertise to assist with financial aid management systems, or financial aid processing for the 2024-25 FAFSA rollout.

ED also detailed its newly launched concierge service, housed within Federal Student Aid (FSA), which will provide institutions with direct financial aid experts who can provide them with additional support in order to prepare for, and send, financial aid award letters to students.

During the week of February 12, FSA will begin to proactively contact lower-resourced colleges that the department has identified based on factors like known past challenges in administering a Title IV program – including heightened cash management – the percentage of enrolled students that receive Pell Grants, imminent critical deadlines, which include decision dates or start of summer semester, and the level of resources currently available to the institution.

 

Stay tuned to Today’s News for further information on the latest developments concerning the department “FAFSA College Support Strategy.”

 

Publication Date: 2/12/2024


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