Summary: 1996-97 FASFA Processing - Announcement #1
Author: CPS - Central Processing System (CPS)
Announcement #1, March 2, 1996
1996-97 FEDERAL STUDENT AID APPLICATION PROCESSING
Delays in the processing of 1996-97 paper student aid applications.
For a variety of reasons there currently exist delays in the time it takes for a
paper application for Federal student aid (FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA) to be
processed and the results sent to the applicant on a Student Aid Report
(SAR) and to postsecondary institutions via electronic Institutional Student
Information Records (ISIR). These reasons include the two federal furloughs
that occurred during what would have been ED's testing of the capabilities of
its new Multiple Data Entry (MDE) contractors' ability to enter applicant data
into the Central Processing System (CPS).
In addition, there have been unforeseen technical problems that have
adversely affected the new data input imaging process being used by the
The processing problems are only in the data entry portion of the application
process. Once applicant data are passed into the CPS, normal processing is
occurring and students and schools are receiving output in a timely manner. In
fact, those applicants that used one of ED's electronic processes for
submitting FAFSA data to the CPS (FAFSA Express, EDExpress) are
receiving results within a few days. It is only those applications submitted on
either a paper FAFSA or paper renewal FAFSA that are being delayed.
Plans call for the application processing system to be current by March 30,
Resolving the delay in FAFSA processing has been identified as the
Department's top priority, and all ED staff, including senior management, are
working daily with our contractors to quickly resolve the problems.
We have taken a number of steps, as indicated below, to ensure that by the
end of March, 1996-97 application processing will be current and output will
be provided to applicants and to institutions according to normal processing
rules. Normal processing of paper applications should produce results to
students (SARs) and to schools (ISIRs) within 14 days of receipt of the paper
Be assured that all FAFSAs will be processed in the order in which they were
received by the MDE processor.
Actions Taken To Date:
1. We are aggressively working with the MDEs to resolve both
software and hardware problems that have contributed to the delays.
2. We have approved the addition of supplemental hardware needed
by our contractors.
3. We have issued revised guidelines to the contractors that will
enable them to hire additional staff and to provide overtime for current staff.
4. We will be moving previously received paper applications into
alternative methods of data entry for submission to the CPS.
In addition, in order to provide both applicants and their families and
postsecondary educational institutions with the latest status of 1996-97
processing, we will be increasing the capabilities of the Department's SFA
Bulletin Board Service (BBS) and the Public Inquiry Contractor
(1-800-4FED AID). The BBS will be updated daily with information on
1996-97 processing, including the FAFSA receipt date currently being
processed by the CPS.
We have extended the operation of the 1-800-4FED AID toll-free number so
that callers can check on the status of application processing from 8AM until
8PM (Eastern Time) daily, including Saturdays. The staff at the toll-free
number will be able to provide callers with the FAFSA receipt date currently
being processed by the CPS. Because of increased activity, staffing at the
Department's Application Status Service (1-319-337-5665) has been
doubled in order to provide callers with needed information.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Because the problem is in the data entry portion of the application process,
applications received by the CPS either directly from applicants using FAFSA
Express or from schools using EDExpress, have been processed and results
sent within a few days. Therefore, we are encouraging applicants to use one
of these automated methods of applying for aid. In support of that effort we
will be mailing a copy of the FAFSA Express software to more than 25,000
high schools across the country and to more than 600 TRIO programs at
postsecondary institutions. We encourage those schools to load the FAFSA
Express software and to encourage their students to utilize this efficient and
error minimizing method of applying for student aid.
We also want to encourage institutions to use EDExpress to submit applicant
data directly to the CPS. Note that there are no per transaction costs to
schools for using the application features of EDExpress.
Once again, the Department views the resolution of this issue as its highest
priority and is committing all available resources to that end. We thank all
students, families, high schools, postsecondary institutions, and our other
partners for their understanding and patience.