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Summary: HERA Operational Implementation Guidance (CPS, COD System, and EDExpress Suite) - Clarification of ACG Data Review by Schools

Publication Date: October 24, 2006

Author: G. Kay Jacks, General Manager, Application, Operations and Delivery Services, Federal Student Aid

Summary: HERA Operational Implementation Guidance (CPS, COD System, and EDExpress Suite)—Clarification of ACG Data Review by Schools

Posted on 10-24-2006

As explained in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-06-04, the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (the HERA), Pub. L. 109-171, created the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) Program effective July 1, 2006. ACG awards are available for eligible students beginning with the 2006-2007 Award Year. In an Electronic Announcement posted June 30, 2006, we informed schools of the availability of ACG functionality that we will use as we work with students and schools to provide these new grant funds to eligible students. As explained in the June 30th announcement and subsequent announcements, ACG processing functions will become available between July 1, 2006 and April 14, 2007.

In this announcement, we summarize and clarify school review of ACG self-identification information that we collect from students and provide to schools. We cover information in the following order:

  • ACG Self-Identification Process Summary
  • ACG Data Review Guidance Clarification
  • Contact Information
  • ACG Self-Identification Process Summary

    Ultimately, it is a school’s responsibility to confirm a student’s eligibility for an ACG award before disbursing the aid. The school uses Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) data and information from its academic records to confirm and document a student’s eligibility.

    As we explained in the June 30th announcement, we implemented an ACG self-identification process. This process collects from potentially eligible students and provides to schools preliminary information about the recognized rigorous secondary school program of study completed by the student after January 1, 2005.

  • A potentially eligible student is one who-
    1. Completes a paper Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or FAFSA on the Web;
    2. Is determined to be eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant); and
    3. Reports on the FAFSA that he or she is a United States citizen.
  • We provide schools with ACG data that reflects responses to the rigorous secondary school program questions and other key data via an ACG Data file, comment codes on an ISIR, and screens on FAA Access to CPS Online.
  • Note: Additional information about the methods for providing ACG data to schools is available in the June 30th announcement and the applicable technical references.

    ACG Data Review Guidance Clarification

    We have learned that many of the students who are providing information are not answering one of the ACG questions correctly. This is the question about high school graduation date, and, as a result, we may provide a school ACG data for more students than necessary.

    We are currently researching options to refine and improve the ACG self-identification process. For the 2007-2008 Award Year, we will narrow the criteria for allowing a student to respond to the ACG questions by including a criterion that approximates the date of high school graduation.

    In the meantime, we want to clarify our guidance about a school’s responsibility to review ACG data that we send to the school based upon input from a student.

    Previous Guidance: We have advised that a school must review all of its students who self identify themselves as being potentially eligible for ACG awards and determine the students’ eligibility or ineligibility for the awards. Further, we have advised that the school must, at least, determine if a student is eligible for an ACG award based on the rigorous secondary school program reason the student provided in his or her responses to the ACG questions.

    Clarification: If a school can determine that a student who has self identified himself or herself as being potentially eligible for an ACG award is ineligible because the student does not meet the high school graduation date requirement, the school does not need to check further for ACG award eligibility. More specifically, if the school can use queries or other tools to confirm that the student did not graduate from high school after January 1, 2006 for a first-year ACG award or after January 1, 2005 for a second-year ACG award, no further review is necessary.

    Contact Information

    We appreciate your partnership in serving ACG recipients and hope this information is helpful to you.

  • If you have general questions about the information in this announcement, e-mail us at
  • If you have technical questions about how we provide ACG data to you, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806) or by e-mail at
  • Last Modified: 10/23/2006