Summary: This letter describes the Title IV Wide Area Network (WAN) services, the receipt of Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) through the Electronic Data Exchange (EDE) or the Applicant Data Service (but not both), the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), and applicable enrollment procedures. This letter is a replacement of Action Letter #4 (GEN-95-53) dated November 1995 for enrollment to the Title IV WAN.
Action Letter #7
SUMMARY: This letter describes the Title IV Wide Area Network
(WAN) services, the receipt of Institutional Student
Information Records (ISIRs) through the Electronic
Data Exchange (EDE) or the Applicant Data Service
(but not both), the National Student Loan Data
System (NSLDS), and applicable enrollment
procedures. This letter is a replacement of Action
Letter #4 (GEN-95-53) dated November 1995 for
enrollment to the Title IV WAN.
Dear Financial Aid Administrator:
The U. S. Department of Education (ED) is pleased to announce the
services and products now available through the Title IV Wide Area
Network (WAN) contract that was awarded to National Computer
Systems (NCS). GE Information Services (GEIS) is the network
provider for the Title IV WAN.
The Title IV WAN has replaced the General Electronic Support
(GES) network as the vehicle to transmit and receive Title IV
financial aid data. The Title IV WAN transmits data for the
Electronic Data Exchange (EDE), Direct Loan, and the National
Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
This letter introduces you to the services of the Title IV WAN,
provides Title IV WAN enrollment information and instructions
for the Title IV WAN, provides information regarding the National
Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), and describes the changes in
the Institution Applicant Data Service
What Services does the Title IV WAN Provide?
The Title IV WAN provides three basic services that allow you to:
- Send and receive files of financial aid data. This service is
called Electronic Data Exchange (EDE).
- Access bulletin boards and electronic mail. This service is called
- Access Title IV data bases, such as the CPS and NSLDS, 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 institutions and
servicers. Currently, almost 7,000 schools benefit from the speed
and ease of EDE. EDE allows participants to perform one or more
of the following functions:
- 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
- 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 a
destination point. An organization may become a destination point
or acquire Title IV WAN services through existing destination
points known as servicers.
EDE uses file store-and-forward data transmissions 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 Application Systems (CPS, NSLDS, or the Direct Loan
servicer) retrieves them. The batches of data are processed and the
results are sent back to the network, from which the destination
point can retrieve them.
OPEnet, under the Title IV WAN, is a PC-based Bulletin Board and
E-mail system that gives schools access to one another, the Internet,
and a wealth of ED information. OPEnet is available in both DOS
and Windows versions. Every school that signs up with the Title IV
WAN automatically receives the OPEnet DOS software and User's
Guide. Those who request the Windows version also receive that
software along with its User's Guide. The first copy of either the
DOS or Windows software and User's Guide is paid for by ED.
There is no monthly service charge, but all schools pay for the time
they are connected to the network.
The E-mail part of OPEnet enables users to send messages to other
OPEnet users, including ED and the Title IV WAN contractor.
Users are also able to send messages to and receive messages from
The Bulletin Board system of OPEnet provides access to such things
as Federal regulations, Dear Colleague letters, policy directives, and
information about special initiatives of agencies and institutions.
QUERY gives Title IV WAN users access to Title IV databases as
well as to account information on the Title IV WAN. The On-line
Query consists of a series of screens, accessed from an initial menu,
that will allow users to take advantage of its interactive access.
Through one connection, authorized users will have access to the
Title IV databases as well as their own Title IV WAN information.
Using Query, Title IV WAN destination points will be able to:
- Access Title IV databases such as the CPS and NSLDS
depending on their authorization.
- View transmission history that is updated continuously rather
than every 24 hours.
- See when products were shipped to them.
- Browse on-line destination information.
- See what institutions they service, if any.
In addition, Title IV WAN customers will be able to:
- View their own billing information for past months and even see
charges as they are added to their current month's invoice.
- View destination information of destinations for which they have
assumed payment responsibility, if any.
Title IV WAN Highlights and Enhancements
The Title IV WAN provides improved technological advances and
services in many areas that benefit the Title IV user community:
- NEW NETWORK PROVIDER - GE INFORMATION
SERVICES (GEIS). GE Information Services, a recognized
network leader, is working with NCS to deliver the
Title IV WAN by providing the telecommunications network.
- ENHANCED MAINFRAME SUPPORT. Mainframe users with
SNI capability are able to communicate with the Title IV WAN
at speeds up to 56 kbps. Bisync mainframe users are supported
at speeds up to 14.4 kbps. We have also established a
knowledgeable team to help mainframe users become operational
on the new network.
- HIGHER PC NETWORK ACCESS SPEEDS. PC users are able
to communicate with the Title IV WAN at higher speeds up to
- FILE TRANSFER CAPABILITY. The Title IV WAN supports
file transfer data transmission that allows records to be
transmitted at actual length. This eliminates the need to block
and de-block records into 79 byte records.
- INTEGRATED PC SOFTWARE. Users are provided with an
integrated PC software package that provides access to all Title
IV WAN systems, including the Bulletin Board and E-mail
system and On- line Query. Users are not required to purchase
additional software to access these systems.
- ENHANCED PC INTERFACE SOFTWARE. The PC interface
software has been enhanced to make using the Title IV WAN
easier, more flexible, and more efficient.
The software can query a user's store-and-forward mailbox and
receive a list of all messages waiting to be received. The user
can then choose any or all of these messages to be downloaded to
Restart capability has been added so that if a transmission is
interrupted, it can be restarted where it left off rather than at the
User definable fields allow the user to specify a path for each
message class to be sent from or received to, rather than always
using one default path for all message classes. Of course, the
option to use one default path is still available.
- ENHANCED ON-LINE SYSTEMS. Users of the Title IV WAN
have greater on-line access to network transmission history and
billing information. Destinations are able to browse participation
information for institutions they service. Customers are able to
view invoices for past months as well as the invoice in progress
for the current month.
- ENHANCED CUSTOMER SERVICE. Customer Service, under
the Title IV WAN, has also been enhanced to meet the
increasing demands of the financial aid community. There is a
toll free 800 number (800/615-1189) for all customers needing
assistance as well as expanded hours of phone coverage and an
automated voice response system that offers help even when the
Network Operations Center is closed.
- NO MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE. There is no monthly
service charge for handling invoices.
- ARCHIVE CHARGES HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED. Data
resides in your mailbox for 180 days or until you receive it. You
are no longer charged to archive the data after 27 days. In
addition, data received from your mailbox can be easily restored
to your mailbox by calling Title IV WAN Customer Service.
- ENHANCED BILLING FLEXIBILITY. Under the Title IV
WAN, users who have more than one destination point incurring
charges are able to receive one invoice consolidating charges for
all their destination points.
Who is Eligible to Enroll in Title IV WAN?
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, guaranty agencies, and need analysis servicers.
For those institutions who choose not to receive applicant data
through the Electronic Data Exchange (EDE) on the Title IV WAN,
the U. S. Department of Education makes applicant data available
on tapes or cartridges from the CPS through the Applicant Data
This service is similar to what was provided for 1995-96, but with
one significant change: INSTITUTIONS MUST CHOOSE
WHETHER TO RECEIVE ISIRS THROUGH THIS SERVICE OR
EDE. HOWEVER, YOU MAY CHOOSE TO RECEIVE YOUR
ISIRS THROUGH THE APPLICANT DATA SERVICE AND
STILL ENROLL FOR EDE TO PROCESS ELECTRONIC
ORIGINAL APPLICATIONS, CORRECTIONS AND PELL
How Do I Enroll?
Institutions subscribing to any service--EDE, OPEnet, and Query--
must complete and sign both a Customer Initiation Document
(Enclosure A) and Letter of Application (Enclosure B) indicating
the desired services and agreeing to share the cost of the services
provided by the Title IV WAN.
To use EDE, Direct Loan, or NSLDS, organizations must also
complete and submit a signed Participation Agreement (Enclosure
G). EDE destination points acting as servicers to institutions must
complete and sign a Participation Agreement for each school they
REMEMBER: FOR 1996-97, YOU CANNOT RECEIVE
AUTOMATIC ISIRS FROM BOTH EDE AND THE
INSTITUTION APPLICANT DATA SERVICE. YOU MUST
DECIDE TO RECEIVE THE DATA ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.
All documents, including the Customer Initiation Document, Letter
of Application, Participation Agreement, Mainframe Requirements
Document, and Applicant Data Service Option Request Form must
be mailed to:
Title IV WAN Customer Service
P.O. Box 30
Iowa City, IA 52244
NOTE: IF YOU ELECT TO PARTICIPATE WITH THE
INSTITUTIONAL APPLICANT DATA SERVICE TO RECEIVE
ISIRS, YOU CANNOT RECEIVE ELECTRONIC AUTOMATIC
ISIRS FROM THE EDE SERVICE.
If you have any questions regarding enrollment, please call Title IV
WAN Customer Service at (800) 615-1189.
When Can I Enroll?
Eligible organizations may enroll anytime during the year. There is
no enrollment deadline. EDE subscribers may enroll now for the
1995-96 and/or 1996-97 processing cycles by checking the
appropriate boxes on the Letter of Application.
What Happens After I Enroll?
Once a new Title IV WAN subscriber submits the required forms,
the destination contact listed on the Letter of Application is sent, at
no charge, the following software and user's guides:
- Integrated Application Menu (IAM) software that enables the
user to connect to the network, perform the Query functions, and
receive batches of information.
- OPEnet software. All users receive OPEnet software for DOS as
a part of the IAM. Those who request Windows also receive the
Windows version of OPEnet at no cost.
- Title IV WAN and OPEnet User's Guide.
- EDExpress software and User's Guide (if enrolling in EDE or
- DataPrep software and User's Guide (if subscribing to NSLDS
In addition, the technical contact (or the destination contact if it is
the same) receives:
- The Electronic Data Exchange Technical Reference (if enrolling
in EDE or Direct Loan).
- The Direct Loan Technical Reference (if enrolled in Direct
It is not necessary to purchase any additional software to connect to
the on-line Query service or to use OPEnet. Users are only charged
for any additional copies of the software that they choose to order.
A special feature of the Title IV WAN will be increased mainframe
support. To assist ED in planning for the transition, please
complete the enclosed Mainframe Requirements Document
(Enclosure D) if you plan to communicate with the Title IV WAN in
any way other than using a PC. Your answers will help us identify
your software and support needs thus making your transition to the
Title IV WAN quicker and easier. We have assembled a staff of
dedicated professionals who are specifically trained to assist you in
becoming operational on the Title IV WAN. They will use your
responses on the document to assess your requirements and give you
support throughout the transition process.
If you have any questions concerning the Mainframe Requirements
Document, please call us at 800-638-8730, extension 4391. This
number will only be available during the transition from the GES to
the Title IV WAN.
Please complete the Mainframe Requirements Document and mail it
along with your Customer Initiation Document, Letter of
Application, and Participation Agreement. These documents, along
with instructions for completing them, are enclosed at the end of this
What Computer Equipment Do I Need?
MAINFRAME USERS are supported by the Title IV WAN. If you
indicate mainframe computer on the Letter of Application and
return a Mainframe Requirements Document, you will be sent
communications software in IEBCOPY format, on tape or cassette,
which runs on an IBM or IBM-compatible mainframe with an MVS
operating system. You will also receive a mainframe user's guide
that will address communications protocols. NSLDS subscribers
also have the option of requesting a mainframe version of DataPrep
which operates in an IBM MVS environment.
Call Title IV WAN Customer Service at (800) 615-1189 if you have
any questions about operating in a mainframe environment.
PERSONAL COMPUTER USERS must have the following
equipment to connect to the network:
- IBM or fully IBM-compatible PC with at least a 80386 processor.
- MS-DOS version 3.3 or higher.
- 512 K of conventional RAM available.
- 4 MB of expanded memory.
- At least 30 MB of available hard disk space for the software with
additional space required to store your information. The amount
of space required will depend upon the number of records you
- 3.5" floppy disk drive (high density).
- 3.5" high-density double-sided diskettes formatted using DOS.
- 9600, 2400, or 1200 baud Hayes or fully Hayes-compatible
- Dedicated phone line.
- Printer capable of printing on standard paper.
However, we RECOMMEND the following configuration:
- IBM or fully IBM-compatible PC with at least a 486DX2,
- MS-DOS version 5.0 or higher.
- 620 K of conventional RAM available.
- 16 MB of expanded memory.
- At least 300 MB of available hard disk space for the software
with additional space required to store your information. The
amount of space required will depend upon the number of
records you process.
- 3.5" floppy disk drive (high density).
- 3.5" high-density double-sided diskettes formatted using DOS.
- 9600 baud Hayes or fully Hayes-compatible asynchronous
How Much Will It Cost?
The purchase of equipment is one cost to consider when enrolling in
the Title IV WAN. Another cost consideration is the bill for
network services you will receive monthly 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 in which
you had billable activity. The billable services are listed on the Fees
For Title IV WAN Services schedule (Enclosure F).
- There is no monthly service charge for using Title IV WAN.
- First-time users, those not converting from the GES, are charged
$18.61 for the processing of the Letter of Application.
- Users are charged $15.65 for the processing of the Participation
- There is no monthly service charge for OPEnet. Users will only
be charged for the time they spend connected to the network.
- Users are charged $12.07 for each Customer Service telephone
The network transmission costs for most types of records are free to
the user (e.g., electronic ISIRs and electronic applications, including
renewal applications). Users pay a per kilocharacter fee for certain
transmissions including electronic corrections to the CPS and
Federal Pell Grant Payment information. Transmitting this type of
data during non-prime hours (5 p.m. to 8 a.m. your time) will assure
With ED paying for so many of the expenses, we are convinced that
Title IV WAN users will discover that the costs of participating will
be far outweighed by the benefits each school will derive from the
Title IV WAN.
We are pleased to announce the beginning of the Title IV WAN and
are excited about the enhancements planned for the 1996-97 award
year. We look forward to welcoming you as a participant in the
Title IV WAN.
National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is a national
database of loan-level information and selected grant data on aid
disbursed under Title IV systems. The database is populated with
data on the following Title IV programs:
- FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan) Programs;
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan);
- Perkins Loan Program;
- Pell/SEOG Overawards; and
- Pell Awards/Disbursements.
Once fully implemented, NSLDS will perform the following
- Prescreen Title IV applicants for eligibility and data returned on
the initial ISIR to serve as the interim Financial Aid Transcript
to Financial Aid Administrators;
- Provide electronic Financial Aid Transcripts;
- Process Student Status Confirmation Reports;
- 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
- Provide Pre-claims Assistance/Supplemental Pre-Claims support;
- Borrower tracking assistance.
Schools participating in the Perkins Loan program are required to
provide loan-level data, as well as Pell and SEOG overpayment
information to NSLDS. The Title IV WAN communications
software is used to transmit and receive data to and from NSLDS.
ED provides 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 compatible PC running DOS or an
IBM or compatible mainframe with a MVS/XA or MVS/ESA operating
To receive the DataPrep software package, mark the box next to "Do
you need Data Provider Software?" This 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 (Enclosure B) and complete the Participation
Agreement (Enclosure G). Even those simply modifying their
Participation Agreement (PA) should submit a complete PA.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT NSLDS, YOU MAY
CONTACT THE NSLDS CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTER AT
Institution Applicant Data Service
The Department of Education makes applicant data in the form of
ISIRs available to your institution free of charge up to 40 times
during the processing for an award year. All institutions eligible to
participate in Title IV Federal student aid programs may request and
receive applicant data in the form of ISIRS through this service.
REMEMBER THAT PARTICIPATING IN THIS SERVICE
PROHIBITS YOU FROM RECEIVING ISIRS IN THE EDE
This 1996-97 ISIR output is available on tape or cartridge magnetic
media, and is similar to that provided for 1995-96, but with changes.
Enclosure I provides more detailed information concerning the
Applicant Data Service, including the dates on which output will be
produced and mailed.
Institutions requesting ISIRs under this service for the 1996-97
award year are required to submit a new Option Request Form
(Enclosure J). Institutions who are currently receiving applicant
data service ISIRs for the 1995-96 award year will continue to
receive their 1995-96 ISIRs according to the request currently on file
YOUR FIRST 1996-97 TAPE OR CARTRIDGE WILL BE
CUMULATIVE: IT WILL CONTAIN ALL APPLICANTS
SPECIFYING YOUR INSTITUTION ON THEIR LATEST
OFFICIAL TRANSACTION SINCE PROCESSING START UP.
EACH SUBSEQUENT TAPE OR CARTRIDGE WILL NOT BE
CUMULATIVE, BUT WILL PROVIDE ISIRS ONLY FOR THOSE
APPLICANTS WHO INDICATED YOUR INSTITUTION AND
HAVE SUBMITTED A TRANSACTION TO THE CPS SINCE
YOUR LAST TAPE OR CARTRIDGE WAS PRODUCED.
Note that the applicant data service, EDE, and the Federal Pell
Grant Recipient Data Exchange (RDE) are separate and distinct
processes. The Applicant Data Service provides you ISIRs from the
CPS via tape or cartridge media. RDE allows you to submit and
receive payment data to the Department on magnetic tape. EDE
gives you the ability to receive and transmit both ISIRs and payment
information electronically via the Title IV WAN. While you may
use the applicant data tapes or cartridges to build a database for use
in the RDE process, a request to receive the applicant data tapes or
cartridges does not allow, nor prohibit, you to participate in RDE. If
you have questions concerning the RDE, please contact Pell Grant
User Support Hotline at (202) 708-6832.
If you have any questions concerning the Applicant Data Service,
please contact Customer Service for Applicant Data Service, Federal
Student Aid Programs, at 1-800-330-5947.
We are excited about the electronic data services we are able to offer
you in the coming year and believe that all users will share our
enthusiasm. If you have any questions concerning enrollment,
please call the Title IV WAN Customer Service Center on
Elizabeth M. Hicks
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Student Financial Assistance Programs
**[The enclosures identified below, except for Enclosure H ,
currently are unavailable on the BBS. Please reference the actual
document or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at
1-800-433-3243 to request a hard copy of this letter with
Enclosure A: Customer Initiation Document
Enclosure B: Letter of Application
Enclosure C: Instructions for enrollment documents
Enclosure D: Mainframe Requirements Document
Enclosure E: Instructions for Mainframe Requirements Document
Enclosure F: Fee Schedule for Title IV WAN Services*
Enclosure G: Participation Agreement
Enclosure H: Instructions for the Participation Agreement
Enclosure I: Institution Applicant Data Service Description
Enclosure J: Institution Applicant Tape/Cartridge Option Request
*Schools participating in the Direct Loan program are not charged
for Title IV WAN services but will receive a bill for OPEnet connect
+ See separate document for text of this enclosure.