ED Releases Details on Reprocessing ISIRs, FAFSA Student Corrections

By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter

The Department of Education (ED) on Tuesday evening, provided more details on when institutions can expect to receive reprocessed FAFSA applicant records and when students will be able to make corrections to their FAFSAs. The EA did not address when the school correction process will be available.

This comes after last week’s announcement from the department that about 20% of FAFSAs were affected by three issues concerning tax data reported on Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs). Initially, ED was planning to reprocess only affected ISIRs where it would benefit the student, meaning they’d potentially be eligible for more financial aid.

But NASFAA, along with many financial aid professionals, advocated for the department to reprocess all affected ISIRs if it could be done in a timely manner so institutions can have accurate data to build financial aid offers. And the department on Friday announced that it would be reprocessing all affected ISIRs — including those where students would potentially see a decrease in student aid eligibility.

According to ED, about 30% of FAFSA forms are potentially affected by known processing or data errors. Two-thirds of these affected FAFSAs (or about 20% of all FAFSAs) are affected by two of the three tax data issues ED identified last week, related to education tax credits and amended tax returns. ED said it plans to reprocess these ISIRs and begin sending them to institutions by May 1.

The other third of affected FAFSAs (or about 10% of all FAFSAs) are from errors within the FAFSA processing system (FPS), according to ED. A subset of the FAFSAs affected by FPS issues may also require corrected tax information. The largest FPS issue affecting these FAFSAs is an incorrectly calculated Student Aid Index (SAI) for records of dependent students with assets, which ED identified in March. ED stated it plans to reprocess these ISIRs with FPS-related errors during the week of April 15.

In the electronic announcement, ED created a chart of potential paths forward for institutions to make aid offers. For instance, for ISIRs unaffected by known processing or data errors, the department recommends that institutions move forward “expeditiously” with processing.

But for ISIRs that will be reprocessed through the FUTURE Act Direct Data Exchange (FA-DDX) or FPS, the department stated that institutions and states may use their judgment and rely on the original ISIR — not the reprocessed record — if the original ISIR results in more financial aid eligibility. And if the reprocessed ISIR results in greater financial aid for the student, institutions may make estimated offers now, but must use the more accurate, reprocessed record for final offers and disbursement of funds, the department stated. The department expects that most of these reprocessed ISIRs will reduce student aid eligibility.

ED is also aiming to make student corrections available broadly next week. The department is in the final phases of testing student corrections, and some students may be available to make corrections for brief periods of time over the next few days.

Once corrections are broadly available, the department said it will communicate publicly that  students who need to make corrections can do so by logging into their accounts. ED noted that the corrections process should only take a few minutes for most students and contributors. Institutions and states should expect a new ISIR transaction within one to three days of the applicant’s submission of a correction.

Currently, as many as 16% of FAFSAs require a student correction, according to ED, and some students may need to send their applications to additional institutions or make other student-initiated corrections.

Most of the required student corrections — 95% — involve six issues, ED said. Four of the issues are that the FAFSA is missing a student’s signature, a parent’s signature, consent and approval from the student to retrieve federal tax information (FTI) as required by the FAFSA Simplification Act, or consent and approval from the parent to retrieve FTI. The other two issues involve dependent students choosing to only be considered for eligibility for Direct Unsubsidized Loans or “making selections on the FAFSA that place them in a provisionally independent status at historically high rates.” While the latter two issues may not always require corrections, the high response rates indicate that a high proportion of the positive responses may have been made in error.

Along with the announcements related to student corrections and ISIR reprocessing timelines, ED stated that later this week it will send additional data to SAIG mailboxes to help institutions and states identify additional records for which they can package aid.

The department is providing the new list in response to feedback that earlier lists, which included all FAFSA filers at all institutions and therefore did not include any personally-identifiable information, were not user-friendly and were difficult to work with due to their large file size. The additional data will be school- or state-specific and will include Social Security numbers for the applicant and all required contributors, or the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if the contributor doesn’t have a SSN, FAFSA UUID, transaction UUID, person UUID, and transaction number.

Additionally, each record will also include an identification of the known issue that triggered reprocessing and whether the record will require reprocessing through the FPS system, the FA-DDX system, or both. ED notes that most records will include “an indication of whether the student’s SAI on the reprocessed ISIR will be higher or lower than the original ISIR.”

As of Tuesday evening, the department said it has now transmitted the ISIRs from approximately 7 million FAFSA forms to institutions, states, and designated scholarship organizations. Additionally, students’ ISIRs are now being sent within one to three days of submission.

 

Publication Date: 4/10/2024


Nikisha A | 4/10/2024 10:28:07 AM

It is nice to know that our school isn't the only school feeling left out in the dark.

David V | 4/10/2024 10:5:03 AM

I don't blame if some incoming freshmen delay their enrollment to '25-'26. This entire thing was botched from the start and a rep from our local ED office has admitted no testing was done on this. They knew this was inevitable and kept us in the dark.

Nathan W | 4/10/2024 9:50:27 AM

This timeline is unacceptable!

Karl W | 4/10/2024 9:33:52 AM

If millions of ISIRs are available why is there still no 2024-2025 dropdown on FAA Access to CPS Online?

Gregory G | 4/10/2024 9:24:59 AM

We do not plan to award on incorrect data.

Sheree T | 4/10/2024 8:59:32 AM

I still have not seen in writing a resolution or reprocessing for ISIRs that imported incorrect taxes paid amounts. They did mention it in one of the live, training updates, but I would feel a lot better about it if one of the written updates included it.

Also, it is pretty gross that the DOE is stating we can award students based on incorrect data if it gives them higher awards. Are any schools actually going to do that?

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