School Corrections and Paper Processing Unavailable ‘Until Late June,’ Per ED’s Latest FAFSA Guidance

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

The Department of Education (ED) in an electronic announcement on Friday afternoon detailed updated processing timelines for the 2024-25 FAFSA form, including that schools will be able to submit corrections electronically “by the end of June,” along with important guidance concerning paper FAFSA submissions, and temporary changes to Title IV aid disbursements. 

According to the notice, institutions will be able to submit corrections through the FAFSA Partner Portal (FPP), which will allow schools to manually enter data through the portal’s electronic submission process. In the weeks following the FPP corrections process opening, ED will make batch institutional corrections available through the Electronic Data Exchange (EDE).

The department also highlighted updated processing guidance for individuals who submitted paper forms. Per ED’s notice processing of paper FAFSA forms, including those from incarcerated students, will begin “by the end of June.”

“With the launch of the new FAFSA, the Department strongly encouraged students and contributors to complete the online form, rather than submitting and sending paper forms in the mail,” the notice read. “Currently, fewer than one-half of one percent of 2024-25 FAFSA submissions are paper FAFSA forms.”

ED recommends that students complete an online FAFSA, even if they had previously submitted a paper FAFSA, unless a student previously filed a paper FAFSA to meet an aid or scholarship deadline. Per the department, submitting an online application will negate the filing date associated with a paper FAFSA.

In order to enable schools to award and disburse Title IV aid before the corrections process opens, ED will also take several steps to allow schools to make awards and disburse some, but not all aid types, based on estimated SAIs.

ED clarified in today’s guidance that it views institutions’ awarding aid based on an estimated SAI generated by their internal systems to be “consistent with requirements to provide accurate student financial assistance information under 34 CFR 668.42” so long as the institution indicates awards could change once the school received an official ISIR.

In order to provide additional support for the 2024-25 award year, schools that receive federal Pell Grant funds under the Advance Funded method will receive an initial Current Funding Level (CFL) for the Pell Grant program to assist with summer disbursements.

The CFL will depend on a number of factors for the summer term. Per the guidance schools will be responsible for “determining immediate need for eligible students and drawing only that portion of funds.” Schools who receive funds through heightened cash monitoring or the reimbursement funding method will not qualify for the CFL.

ED will also extend the 2024-25 deadline for reporting Direct Loan, Pell Grant, and TEACH Grant program disbursements to the COD System to 30 days after the date that school corrections become available. NASFAA has asked ED to clarify if the 30 day clock begins when manual correction functionality is available via the FPP, or weeks later when batch correction processing is available. Schools typically must report disbursements to COD within 15  days of disbursement.

Additional flexibility will be granted to schools who receive funds under the Advanced Funded or HCM1 funding method and enable those institutions to make Pell grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) disbursements based on an estimated SAI, even if the school does not yet have a valid ISIR for their student. However those schools must notify recipients in writing that those amounts may change based on an official ISIR from ED.

Further, institutions may originate, but not disburse, a Direct Subsidized Loan and they may allow Federal Work-Study employment for the first 60 consecutive days after enrollment.

These flexibilities do not extend to schools on the HCM2 or reimbursement payment method, or to any school if there is conflicting student information present or if the student has ceased attendance.

“A school that chooses to make an interim disbursement based on an estimated SAI before school-initiated corrections are available takes full responsibility for submitting corrections or changes due to professional judgment and, once the school receives a valid revised ISIR, ensuring that award and disbursement amounts are correct,” the notice stated.

Institutions who make interim disbursements based on an estimated SAI will not be able to report the disbursement to the COD System until school-initiated corrections are available, the school has made the appropriate corrections, and the FAFSA Processing System (FPS) produces a valid ISIR for the student. These interim disbursements would be subject to the same interim disbursement rules currently in place related to verification, aside from the fact that in this case interim disbursements would not be based on a valid ISIR.Once the corrections process  is available schools will have 30 days to submit corrections and make any necessary corrections to disbursement amounts based on discrepancies between the estimated and the official SAI.

The electronic announcement also included a number of resources under “Get Help” for schools looking for technical assistance and general FAFSA information.

 

Publication Date: 5/10/2024


Peter G | 5/13/2024 11:18:57 AM

The only positive in this is if it the experiment convinces them to permanently change Pell to a CFL system. I'm not sure how many schools will want to change their process to take advantage of this for a single term, however, but it would be great if it were just the norm.

In line with what others have said here, the only actual small silver lining here is they're confirming it's not even worse than it is. We'll be 3-4 weeks into our 24-25 year before they unlock the option to submit batch corrections.

Jesse H | 5/13/2024 11:9:12 AM

I'm not a panicker, but a "no electronic corrections till the end of June" timeframe is absolutely unacceptable. Several higher-ups at the Department of Education either need to make it happen this month or resign *effective immediately* to make room for more competent people who can.

Aaron R | 5/13/2024 10:41:08 AM

24-25 needs to be canceled and schools allowed to use 23-24 through the end of 24-25 Award Year. If we have to use PJ it would be a lot easier then to continue this clown show of 24-25.

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