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This is an update on our progress in identifying and correcting issues associated with the new NSLDS Student Status Confirmation Report (SSCR).

PublicationDate: 10/1/96
Summary: This is an update on our progress in identifying and correcting issues associated with the new NSLDS Student Status Confirmation Report (SSCR).
Author: ODAS - Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary - SFA

October 1, 1996

Dear Colleagues:

This is an update on our progress in identifying and correcting issues associated with
the new NSLDS Student Status Confirmation Report (SSCR).

A focus group was held on September 17 to identify issues and recommend solutions.
Representatives from six institutions and the National Student Loan Clearinghouse
participated. Participants included:

SSCR Focus Group Facilitator:

Earl Dowling: Iowa State University (IA)

SSCR Focus Group Participants:

Dan Boehmer: National Student Loan Clearinghouse
James Green: Moberly Area Community College (MO)
Sharon Howell: Pennsylvania State University (PA)
Samuel Magrone: Delaware Technical and Community College, Terry Campus (DE)
Mary Rose: PJA School (PA)
Rob Sheridon: University of Houston, University Park (TX)
Thomas Zang: Montgomery College, Rockville Campus (MD)

The issues and questions discussed related to the following:

* Simplification of NSLDS sign up procedures
* Incomplete instructions and manuals
* Information Dissemination and Training
* Software Design
* Financial Aid Administrator participation in the design and testing of software and
* Electronic Participation requirement
* How do we resolve the current SSCR issues?
* SSCR Deadline
* Data requested
* Size of SSCR files sent to institutions.

We are working on all of these issues, and value greatly the comments gathered at the
Focus Group. We will, of course, continue to update you as information becomes
available. However, the following issues, raised at the Focus Group, can be resolved
at this time:

Issue: The schools are requested to provide historical data concerning the
student status.

Question: Do the schools have to provide this data for students who have not
attended for an extended period of time?

Response: Schools do not have to provide address data for students who have
not attended within the past 6 months. With regard to all other data, if they have
more up to date information readily available, schools are asked to provide that
information for all students on the roster. During this first NSLDS SSCR, we are
trying to obtain as much information as possible so as to reduce conflicting data.
Once the old records are updated, they will not appear on your rosters.

Issue: Report capability within EDExpress is poor.

Response: The Department will be working to improve the report capabilities of
EDExpress in future releases of the software. However, in the short term we
suggest that schools create a separate database by copying the SSCR database
they receive from NSLDS into a database program such as Access or D-Base.
The copy can then be used to run queries. Schools should not make changes
to the original database.

Issue: The ED Express software does not necessarily work well in the "real world".

Suggestion: Have financial aid administrators provide input into the software design
and assist in BETA testing.

Question: Is the software BETA tested?

Response: We presently encourage participation by financial aid administrators through
focus groups and have received many suggestions for improvement. Plans are being
made to have FAAs participate in the testing. However, true BETA testing, which
would involve allowing the schools to have the software to work with it for some
period of time before it is released to the entire school population, is not done at this
time because of the tight timeframes for development. Suggestions on how to
further involve the schools would be welcomed.

Issue: Participants found the message classes to be confusing. This may have
contributed to institutions not recognizing the SSCR in their mailbox.

Suggestions: Define message classes and explain when each is to be used.
Suggested that a cross reference and pick lists be developed. Include definitions
and use in a help menu. Also, this information needs to be communicated to the
schools who have not picked up their SSCR file.

Question: Will the message classes be changed in the future so that they are
more easily recognized?

Response: We realize that the current message classes used for sending and
receiving SSCR files are confusing. Although we will not be able to incorporate
any changes for the current year's software, we will take this into consideration
for next year's software. In the interim, the following identifies the four message
classes used for sending and receiving SSCR files:

DICR97OP The original SSCR file the school receives
DECR97IN The original or error file the school returns to NSLDS
DICA97OP The error/acknowledgment file that the school receives
DEMS97IN EDExpress ad hoc files

Issue: Schools would like the option of completing parts of the SSCR file at
different times.

Question: Is batch integrity necessary? Why can't schools divide batches?

Response: EDExpress requires batch integrity. The primary purpose is to aid
NSLDS in tracking which SSCRs have been returned and which are outstanding.
It also helps assure schools that ED has received their data and recognized their
compliance. We will continue to work on ways to simplify this process.

During the focus group, an error in the Dear Colleague Letter dated
September 1996 was noted. If you have not already done so, please correct
Attachment B, A10. The answer recommends that you "Go to the SSCR Setup
and set the compare flag to yes'." This applies only to Direct Loan participants
who wish to update the SSCR file by comparing it to updated Loan Origination
Records within EDExpress. All other institutions should set this flag to "No."

We are developing responses to the unanswered issues/questions and an action
plan to assist institutions in resolving current SSCR issues. We will share the
issues and responses with you once they are complete.

We hope that the information shared will be of help to you.

Betsy Hicks

Last Modified: 08/16/1999