SFA Information for Financial Aid Professionals
U.S. Department of Education
Summary: Student Financial Aid Year 2000 Project Status As of 10 September, 1999
Author: COO - Chief Operating Officer of the Office of Student Financial Assistance
As of 10 September, 1999
The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) is proud to announce that OSFA programs systems, which deliver and administer student assistance, are Year 2000 ready. However, this achievement alone does not assure the delivery of student aid. Trading exchange testing with our large population of OSFA customers will further reduce the risk of a Year 2000 failure in the delivery of student assistance. OSFA encourages each institution (school or agency), EDExpress or others to test their data exchange with the following systems during the windows of opportunity listed below. Testing plans and test cases can be found at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCIO/year/b2a.html.
Note the extension of testing into November. Please take advantage of this opportunity to mitigate Year 2000 risk in your data exchange with the Department.
Our largest contingent of partners consists of the schools, and we have strongly urged that every school test its system with ours. Since many schools rely on third-party service providers for student aid servicing, we are soliciting those providers to test their data exchanges with each of our systems. Responses from the schools to our outreach program have included several requests that we encourage service providers to test with our systems, and to publicly acknowledge successes on our web site.
As an incentive to schools, we have been posting, and will continue to post, successfully tested school names on the "School Testing Honor Roll" on the Department's Y2K web pages -- see http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCIO/year/b2c1.html. We are now instituting a separate page to list Servicers that successfully test with us. When any Servicer has successfully tested its data exchanges with the applicable ED systems, that Servicer will be acknowledged by the Department for having done so. This acknowledgement would indicate the Servicer's readiness to exchange data with us in a Y2K-compliant manner, and thus provide assurance to its clients and customers of Y2K preparedness.
Specific cautions to institutions performing Y2K testing with CPS: Institutions need to enter all 12 test FAFSAs without making significant data entry errors, and export with the system date set to 02/29/2000, in order to pass the test.
As a reminder on Y2K testing: Those schools who use EDExpress to participate in Year 2000 testing with the Department will get a message stating they need an access date password when they set their system clock back to the current date. This is because they are attempting to access the software with a system date earlier than last entered. They should call CPS Customer Service at 800-330-5947 to get the access date password. They should also tell the Customer Service Representative that the call is Y2K related so they are not charged for the call.
The test results have shown that some of the testing challenges schools are experiencing are not always Year 2000 related. Common problems include:
· Invalid data: a non-Y2K problem due to data entry errors - an invalid test case which didnt make it to the compute stage, for example, such as in CPS school testing;
· Not following test procedures: not setting the system clock ahead or not using the ED-provided test data;
· Wrong data format: errors such as gaps in the data fields or data not properly formatted as required.
Careful preparation of data for the test and use of the test cases as a checklist will aid in successful testing.
The Year 2000 Office ofStudent Financial Assistance Business Continuity and Contingency Plan is another milestone accomplishment OSFA has completed.OSFA submitted the plan to OMB on June 15, 1999. This plan provides OSFA business continuity should any portion of the student financial assistance business processes experience a disruption due to a Year 2000 problem. The plan identifies eight core business processes and numerous key sub-processes, normal and emergency levels of performance, potential failure scenarios, and a variety of risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans addressing potential failures. OSFA encourages institutions and agencies to reviewand comment on our plan,which islocated at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OCIO/year/reports.html, and develop similar plans to ensure their ability to continue student financial assistance delivery and other core business functions associated with their mission.Secretary Riley recently sent a letter to all postsecondary institution presidents urging them to give priority to making their systems Y2K compliant, testing data exchanges with ED, responding to a follow-up survey on their institution's readiness, and developing contingency plans. This letter is posted to IFAP. OSFA is conducting outreach to our financial aid community partners on Y2K assessment, testing, and contingency planning. OSFA recently held six focus groups, and five others are scheduled throughSeptember. A session on Y2K contingency planning was held at the NASFAA Annual Conference in July. Materials from this session are posted to IFAP.
In conclusion, OSFA wants to ensure that the student financial assistance community will not be disrupted on account of the Year 2000 problem. The SFA Year 2000 project team may be reached via email at: OPE_Y2K@ED.GOV.