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PublicationDate: 8/9/99

July 7, 1999

Dear NASFAA Conferees:

As you convene in Las Vegas for the 1999 conference of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, I would like to highlight recent student aid accomplishments and call your attention to a major challenge on the horizon.

Together we can take pride in expansions of the Pell Grant and Work-Study programs, substantial reform of the student loan programs, and reductions in student loan interest rates, to name only a few recent accomplishments. At this conference you will learn more about another accomplishment: our reinvented Office of Student Financial Assistance, the Government’s first “performance-based organization.“ Under the leadership of Chief Operating Officer Greg Woods, OSFA has a new blueprint for data systems reform and a renewed emphasis on customer service.

Let me turn now to another challenge: the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer bug. I’m pleased to report that all of the Department’s data systems have been renovated and validated as Y2K compliant, and Congress has given the Department a grade of “A” for our Y2K efforts. However, as you know, the success of our student aid partnership in year 2000 is dependent on the systems of hundreds of participating schools and other partners. Attached for your information are results of a recent Y2K survey of postsecondary institutions. Although most appear to be making progress, many institutions do not expect to complete Y2K renovation work until the last months of 1999, leaving little time for testing or for slippage in schedules.

The Secretary and I are concerned by the fact that that only a relative handful of schools have participated in data exchange testing with our Department’s student aid systems since the testing windows opened in April. This testing is extremely important. I urge you and your institutions to complete the relevant data exchange testing as soon as possible.

Finally, I would like to remind you of the importance of establishing viable Y2K contingency plans for all institutional business processes. The survey shows many schools have made progress in this area, but others have a way to go. I encourage your participation in the conference session on this critical topic. I also encourage your comments on the Department’s student aid contingency plans, updated versions of which will be posted on our web site shortly. For further information on Y2K readiness, data exchange testing, and a copy of the “Year 2000 Readiness Kit” for postsecondary education, please visit our Department’s Y2K web site:

I wish you the best for a successful and enjoyable NASFAA conference.


Marshall Smith



Summary of Preliminary Results

The Web window for this survey closed July 2. However, written survey responses from institutions that did not meet this deadline are encouraged and will be accepted. Hard copy responses should be mailed to: Y2K Team, Attention: Kent Hannaman, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W. 20202-4110

On May 17, 1999, Acting Deputy Secretary Smith’s letter was sent to 6,610 postsecondary education institutions (5,892 domestic, 718 foreign) urging participation in a web-based Y2K survey. Survey information is available at:

· As of July 2: 1,745 responses have been received from domestic institutions, reflecting a 29.6 percent response rate. Highlights of preliminary data include:

* 30 percent of respondents say all mission critical systems are now Y2K compliant.
* 60 percent say all mission critical systems are now Y2K compliant or will be by
October 1, 1999.
* 99 percent say all mission critical systems are now Y2K compliant or will be by
January 1, 2000.

* 61 percent have written plans for achieving Y2K compliance.

* 80 percent have completed the awareness phase (all systems and elements).
* 63 percent have completed the assessment phase (all systems and elements).
* 28 percent have completed the renovation phase (all systems and elements).
* 22 percent have completed the validation phase (all systems and elements).
* 18 percent have completed the implementation phase (all systems and elements).

* 67 percent plan to conduct testing with trading partners.

* 63 percent have completed contingency planning.

* Major Problems/ Barriers encountered:

- 27 percent: Time
- 27 percent: Personnel
- 24 percent: Funding
- 33 percent: No Problems/ Barriers

· Planned for early August: final survey report and press release.

Last Modified: 08/16/1999