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1998-99 Processing Status Update # 9

PublicationDate: 3/13/98
Summary: 1998-99 Processing Status Update # 9
Author: ODAS - Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary - SFA


Posted March 13, 1998

TO : Financial Aid Administrators

FROM: Diane Rogers
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
Student Financial Assistance Programs

SUBJECT: 1998-99 Processing Status Update # 9

I am pleased to present you with my ninth message on the processing of the 1998-99
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). During the week of March 2-6, we
processed 324,265 applications for the 1998-99 cycle, bringing our year-to-date total to
1,541,885 applications.

Based upon our monitoring of application receipts from this and prior years, we believe
that we have just passed the peak volume of FAFSA receipts. In the last two weeks, we
received about 950,000 FAFSAs. This week, we expect to receive roughly 300,000
FAFSAs.

It is normal for applications to take slightly longer to process during this period. Our
Multiple Data Entry (MDE) contractors have already made progress reducing the
number of FAFSAs waiting to be processed.

Though the volume is beginning to abate, we expect the next few weeks to be peak
processing weeks. In anticipation of the peak volume, our contractors added staff and
began working additional overtime to keep processing forms as quickly as possible.

During times of peak volume, it takes longer to process the forms received on a given
day than during times of less volume. Peak volume is normally accommodated over
several weeks: our MDE contractors process fewer applications than we receive during
peak receipt weeks and, therefore, we expect a temporary and short-lived rise in the
volume of forms that are awaiting processing.

When receipts decline after peak, our MDE contractors continue to process FAFSAs at
peak level, reducing the number of forms awaiting processing. We believe we are now in
this stage. In the first three days of this week, our MDE contractors processed roughly
45,000 more FAFSAs than they received.

This is a normal situation, and is fundamentally different from the processing difficulties
two years ago. Those problems two years ago were due to systems problems resulting
in some FAFSAs being stuck in the process. This year, all applications are being
processed in the order in which we received them. Our MDE contractors have completed
70 percent of the applications they've received to date.

During non-peak weeks, we expect our MDE contractors to process the forms within
seven work days. Today, there are roughly 375,000 forms that are more than seven days
old -- one-third of which are just eight days old.

Even the applications which have been in process the longest were received only 13
days ago -- and there are only 1,300 of those. It is not unusual for applications to take as
long as 13 days during the peak period.

In the meantime, the Department continues to process electronic applications smoothly
and quickly. If a student needs his or her application to be processed more promptly, we
recommend that, if possible, he or she file an electronic FAFSA. Electronic FAFSAs are
faster and easier for students to file and for the Department to process. They are also
more accurate: only two-tenths of one percent of FAFSAs received via the Web have to
be returned to the applicant because of incorrect or incomplete information, compared
with 12 percent of paper FAFSAs.

The following statistics are through Friday, March 6:

FAFSA and Renewal Applications

RECEIPTS PROCESSED
YEAR TO DATE--GRAND TOTAL 2,590,574 1,541,885
I. Paper 2,486,994 1,438,305
II. Electronic 103,580 103,580

Last Modified: 08/16/1999