Summary: This letter describes the telecommunications services provided under the General Electronic Support (GES) system and the procedures which institutions must follow to become enrolled for 1995-96.
ACTION LETTER #5
Summary: This letter describes the telecommunications services
provided under the General Electronic Support (GES)
system and the procedures which institutions must follow
to become enrolled for 1995-96.
Dear Financial Aid Administrator:
We are pleased to announce enhancements to the software products
and services available through the Department of Education's
General Electronic Support (GES) network. These enhancements
will make it easier to manage your Federal financial aid data as well
as provide you with more options and greater flexibility.
Beginning with the 1995-96 award year:
- EDEXPRESS. EDExpress has modules which allow schools to
manage data exchanged with the Central Processing System
(CPS) and Direct Loan Servicer. It also has a module that allows
for the creation of student financial aid packages.
EDExpress is being enhanced to offer users more flexibility
when creating reports; additional printing options; a streamlined
menu structure; mouse support; additional security options; and
more features to help users manage their databases. We expect
that the 1995-96 version of EDExpress will be distributed in
December 1994 to all postsecondary institutions which subscribe
to GES. The Direct Loan software will be distributed in January
- APPLICANT DATA. Participating schools will continue to use
the GES to submit electronic application and correction
information to the Central Processing System (CPS) and receive
Electronic Institutional Student Information Records, or ISIRs.
(The Electronic SAR, or ESAR, is being renamed the Electronic
ISIR for 1995-96.) Beginning this fall, users will be able to
request renewal application data for 1995-96 by dialing directly
to the CPS. Schools will have the option of requesting that the
renewal application data be transmitted to Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) processor for printing and bulk
mailing to the institution. Downloading renewal information for
printing at the school will continue to be an option. In addition,
ED will not charge destination points for the costs associated
with the transmission of EDE requested renewal application
records. More information about the 1995-96 renewal
application system is provided in Action Letter #3.
- DIRECT LOAN SYSTEM. Schools which have been notified
that they have been selected to participate in the Direct Loan
program will continue to use the GES to exchange information
with the Direct Loan servicer and ED's Payment Management
System. EDExpress will be sent to all GES subscribers, but only
Direct Loan participants will be able to transmit Direct Loan
data. Enhancements to the 1995-96 Direct Loan software
include increased speed in performing functions such as
importing and printing, and more flexibility in adding records
to/exporting records from the loan databases and in printing
various reports. ONLY SCHOOLS NOTIFIED OF SELECTION
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM SHOULD SIGN UP
FOR DIRECT LOAN SERVICE ON THE LETTER OF
APPLICATION (ENCLOSURE 1).
- NATIONAL STUDENT LOAN DATA SYSTEM (NSLDS).
The NSLDS will go into production this fall. Schools may
request authorization to use the NSLDS to access current
information on their students. Schools required to provide data
to NSLDS will receive a copy of the DataPrep software, an ED-
provided software package to perform data verification. Schools
will use the communications package provided by the GES
(currently called expEDIte) to transmit their data to NSLDS.
Complete the appropriate entries on the Letter of Application
(Enclosure 1) to obtain the DataPrep software. A section at the
conclusion of this letter describes the NSLDS service in more
The GES network itself will be undergoing change during the 1995-
96 award year. The contract which provides the GES
telecommunications network and support services is currently under
re-competition. We expect that the new network contract, titled Title
IV Wide Area Network, will be awarded during the fall of 1994 and
will go into operation during the spring of 1995. Current data
transmission and on-line services will continue under the new
contract. However, there will likely be some modifications to the fee
schedule that is presented as Enclosure 2. We will keep you
informed about how the new Title IV WAN network will affect your
processing operations. IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER,
HOWEVER, THAT THE CURRENT GES NETWORK WILL
CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE START-UP OF THE 1995-96
PROCESSING ACTIVITIES AND THAT WE WILL MAKE
EVERY EFFORT NOT TO DISRUPT CONTINUING SERVICES
WITH THE SWITCH IN CONTRACTS.
Instructions to Current Participants
In December, all current GES participants will receive software
packages for 1995-96 (EDExpress, without Direct Loan, and
expEDIte), together with a new multi-volume set of User's Guides.
SERVICE TO CURRENT PARTICIPANTS WILL CONTINUE
AUTOMATICALLY INTO THE 1995-96 PROCESSING CYCLE.
UNLIKE PRIOR YEARS, YOU DO NOT NEED TO PLACE A
TELEPHONE CALL TO GO INTO OPERATION FOR THE NEW
YEAR. If you receive 1994-95 Electronic SARs, you will
automatically begin receiving 1995-96 Electronic ISIRs when the
system goes into production in mid-January 1995. If you do not
want your institution to begin receiving 1995-96 electronic ISIRs
when the system goes into production for 1995-96, call NCS User
Services at (800) 553-2159. If you do not call, you must be ready to
receive transmissions when the system goes into production. Data
not retreived will be archived after residing on the network for 30
Current participants should note that the GES fee schedule, as
detailed in the Enclosure 2, has not changed, with the exception that
ED will no longer charge schools for fees associated with providing
renewal application data. However, fees will likely change later in
the year upon implementation of the new Title IV WAN contract.
National Student Loan Data System
The NSLDS will be going into production in the fall of 1994.
NSLDS is a national database of loan-level information and selected
grant data on aid disbursed under Title IV of the Higher Education
Act of 1965, as amended. Data in NSLDS is provided by schools,
guaranty agencies, and other Department of Education Title IV
systems. Schools will provide data on the following Title IV
- Perkins Loan Program (including National Direct Student Loans
and National Defense Student Loans)
- Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
Once fully implemented, NSLDS will perform the following
- Prescreen Title IV applicants for eligibility
- Calculate default rates for schools, lenders, and guaranty
agencies (GAs) participating in the FFEL program, and provide
backup data for these calculations on request
- Support research by users at ED, schools, GAs, and other
- Standardize Student Status Confirmation Reporting
- Pre-claims Assistance/Supplemental Pre-Claims support
- Borrower tracking
- Central source for Financial Aid Transcript information
Schools participating in the Perkins Loan program are required to
provide loan-level and SEOG overpayment information to NSLDS.
The GES communications software will be used to transmit data to
and receive data from NSLDS. ED will provide a software package
called DataPrep, to assist institutions in the preparation of their data
for transmittal to NSLDS. This software is available for either an
IBM or compatible PC running DOS or an IBM or compatible
mainframe with a MVS/XA or MVS/ESA operating system.
To receive the DataPrep software package, check the appropriate box
in the NSLDS section of the Letter of Application. Be sure to
indicate the specific media on which the DataPrep software is to be
sent to you. If you work in a non-DOS PC or IBM mainframe
environment, check the "other" box in the NSLDS section of the
Letter of Application for your particular operating mode, and you
will be provided with a copy of the NSLDS DataPrep PC DOS
software. The software is intended to assist you in determining the
record formats, and data requirements that your program must
support to meet your data submission requirements to NSLDS.
All schools, regardless of whether they participate in the Perkins
Loan Program or not, are eligible to access data on their students that
is stored in NSLDS. If you wish to access data in NSLDS, check the
appropriate box in the NSLDS Section of the Letter of Application.
Additional information and user participation request forms will be
sent to you.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT NSLDS, YOU MAY
CONTACT THE NSLDS CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTER AT
The remainder of this letter is directed to financial aid administrators
who are considering subscribing to GES services. We first describe
the services offered by the GES, which will continue under the Title
IV WAN. We then discuss the sign-up procedures; the computer
equipment you need to have to participate; and the billing
What Services are Provided?
The GES provides three basic services which allow you to:
- Send and receive batches of financial aid data. This service is
called Electronic Data Exchange (EDE.)
- Access bulletin boards and electronic mail. This service is
- Access the Title IV data bases, such as the CPS, in an on-line
mode. This service is called Query.
EDE establishes a link between ED's Title IV databases--the CPS,
NSLDS, and Direct Loan System--and participating schools and
servicers. Currently, almost 6,000 institutions benefit from the speed
and ease of EDE. EDE allows participants to perform one or more
of the following:
- Complete and send electronic initial and renewal applications
- Receive electronic Institutional Student Information Records
- Make electronic corrections
- Send and receive electronic payment information for Federal
Pell Grant recipients
- Receive electronic Statements of Account for the Federal Pell
- Transmit to, and receive data from, the Direct Loan servicer to
originate, drawdown, disburse, reconcile, and report student
status for the Direct Loan program
- Transmit to, and receive data from, the NSLDS
Institutions may submit and receive data electronically using a
mainframe or personal computer. The site responsible for
transmitting and retrieving the data from the network is called the
destination point. A school may become a destination point or
acquire EDE service from existing destination points known as
EDE uses batch store-and-forward data transmission for the
processing functions listed above. Using software provided at no
cost by ED, a destination point sends batches of formatted records to
the network. The transmissions are stored there until one of the Title
IV systems (CPS, NSLDS, or the Direct Loan servicer) retrieves
them. The data is processed and the results are sent back to the
network, from which the destination point can retrieve them.
OPEnet is a menu driven system that allows access to a wealth of ED
information directly from a personal computer. OPEnet includes
electronic bulletin boards that contain Federal regulations, Dear
Colleague letters, policy directives, and information about special
initiatives of agencies and institutions. Additionally, using electronic
mail, users may send messages to other OPEnet subscribers,
including ED, the GES contractor, and other destination points.
Query allows on-line access to Title IV data bases for GES users
who have a personal computer, modem, and telecommunications
software. Using Query, GES subscribers are able to:
- Request 1994-95 data for printing a 1995-96 renewal
application. The destination point is able to print renewal
applications itself, or request that the FAFSA contractor perform
- Request all ISIRs for your destination point since the beginning
of the processing cycle. (PARTICIPANTS MAKING USE OF
THIS SERVICE, KNOWN AS"YEAR-TO-DATE DATA,"
ARE CHARGED A FEE.)
- Check the status of batches in the GES and at the CPS. (You
can use this service to check where your EDE data is in the
- Receive an on-line summary of monthly and year-to-date
Who is Eligible to Enroll in GES?
EDE is available to any postsecondary institution that participates in
at least one of the Title IV programs and to organizations providing
services to such institutions. OPEnet and Query are available to any
organization, including state educational agencies, scholarship
agencies, lenders, guarantee agencies, and need analysis servicers.
How Do I Enroll?
Organizations subscribing to any service--EDE, OPEnet, and Query-
- must complete and sign a Letter of Application (Enclosure 1)
indicating the services desired and agreeing to share the cost of the
services provided by GES.
To use EDE, schools must also complete and submit a signed
Electronic Data Exchange Participation Agreement (Enclosure 4).
EDE destination points acting as servicers to institutions must
complete and sign a separate Participation Agreement for each
school they service.
Both documents--the Letter of Application and the EDE Participation
Agreement--must be sent to:
GES Customer Service
PO Box 30
Iowa City, IA 52244
Address your questions regarding enrollment to GES CUSTOMER
SERVICE AT (319) 339-6642.
When Can I Enroll?
Eligible organizations may enroll anytime during the year. There is
no enrollment deadline. EDE subscribers may enroll now for the
1994-95 and/or 1995-96 processing cycles by checking the
appropriate boxes on the Letter of Application.
What Happens After I Enroll?
Once a new GES subscriber submits the required forms, the primary
contact listed on the Letter of Application will be sent, at no charge:
- EDExpress and expEDIte software, along with a multi-volume
- OPEnet User's Guide (if subscribing to OPEnet).
- DataPrep software and user's guide (if subscribing to NSLDS
A software package called GESPCS is available for purchase from
the GES contractor for $50.36, and will also be sent if requested by
the organization completing the Letter of Application. Most PC
communication packages on the market will connect you to the
network and allow you to view OPEnet bulletin boards, transmit
messages and view Query screens. However, in order to transfer
data from an OPEnet bulletin board to your PC, or vice versa, you
will need a communications package that supports the IND$FILE
protocol. GESPCS is one package that supports this protocol.
Mainframe users are supported by the GES. If you indicate
mainframe computer on the Letter of Application you will be sent
communications software in the format of your choice which runs on
an IBM or IBM-compatible mainframe with an MVS operating
system. NSLDS subscribers as well have the option of requesting a
mainframe version of DataPrep which operates in an IBM MVS
environment. Call GES Customer Service at (319) 339-6642 if you
have questions about operating in a mainframe environment.
What Computer Equipment Do I Need?
Software, as stated, is available for mainframe users. The RJE
protocols supported are IBM 3780 and HASP using Binary
Synchronous Communications at 2400 and 4800 BPI.
Personal computer users must have the following equipment, at a
minimum, to run expEDIte, EDExpress, and DataPrep:
- IBM or fully IBM-compatible PC with at least an 80386
- IBM or MS-DOS version 3.3 or higher
- 512 K of conventional RAM available
- 4 MB of expanded memory
- At least 20 MB of available hard disk space for the software
with additional space required to store your information. (The
amount of additional space will depend upon the number of
records you process.)
- 3 1/2" or 5 1/4" floppy disk drive (either high or double density)
- Double sided diskettes formatted using DOS
- 9600, 2400, or 1200 baud Hayes or fully-Hayes compatible
- Dedicated telephone line
- Printer capable of printing on standard 8 1/2" X 11" paper
However, we recommend the following configuration:
- IBM or fully IBM-compatible PC with at least a 486DX2,
- IBM or MS-DOS version 5.0 or higher
- 620 K of conventional memory available
- 16 MB of expanded memory
- 300 MB of available hard disk space for the software and data
- 3 1/2" high density floppy disk drive
- Double sided diskettes formatted using DOS
- 9600 Hayes or fully-Hayes compatible asynchronous modem
- Dedicated telephone line
- High speed laser printer
How Much Will It Cost?
The purchase of equipment is one cost to consider when enrolling in
GES. Another is the bill for network services that you will receive
monthly from the GES contractor if you participate in certain
functions. Once you enroll, three copies of your invoice will be sent
within 10 working days after the end of each month that you had
billable activity to the billing contact listed on your Letter of
Application. The invoices contain charges for all services rendered
for the previous month. These services are listed on the 1995 GES
Fee Schedule (Enclosure 2). Please review the Fee Schedule
carefully and note the following:
- All first time users are charged a one-time fee of $39.72.
- Most users receive a monthly fixed charge of $25.00. (You will
not receive a $25.00 charge if you had no billable activity during
- You will receive a $5.71 charge for each telephone call, letter,
- YOU WILL RECEIVE A BILL FOR YEAR-TO-DATE DATA
REQUESTS AND TRANSMISSION CHARGES IF THE
DATA IS DELIVERED OVER THE NETWORK. The earlier
you begin downloading ISIRs in the processing cycle, the fewer
year-to-date requests you will need to make, thus saving money.
The network transmission costs for most types of records are free to
you (e.g., electronic ISIRs and electronic applications, including
renewal applications). You pay a per kilocharacter fee for certain
transmissions including electronic corrections to the CPS and Pell
Grant payment information. Transmitting this type of data during
non-prime time hours (7 pm to 7 am Central Time) will assure
considerable cost savings.
The vast majority of current GES participants have found that the
cost of participating is far outweighed by the benefits that the school
derives from the services provided.
We are pleased to offer the GES services, and we are excited about
the enhancements planned for the 1995-96 award year. We look
forward to welcoming you as a participant in the GES network.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Student Financial Assistance
Enclosure 1:Letter of Application
Enclosure 2:Fee Schedule
Enclosure 3:Fee Schedule-Definition of Terms
Enclosure 4:Electronic Data Exchange Participation Agreement
**[The 4 Enclosures to this letter are currently unavailable on the
BBS. Please reference your paper letter for additional