Publication Date: December 13, 2007
Author: William Leith, Acting General Manager, Application, Operations and Delivery Services, Federal Student Aid
Summary: COD School Testing for the 2008-2009 Award Year
Posted on 12-13-2007
The Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) School Relations Center will conduct Common Record Manual Verification and Structured Application Testing for the 2008-2009 Award Year from January 2, 2008 through July 25, 2008. Optional Unstructured Testing will be available June 2, 2008 through September 30, 2008.
School testing provides schools, third party servicers, and software vendors an opportunity to test business processes and system software with the COD System prior to the transmission and processing of actual production data. It also allows the opportunity to make corrections or enhancements to software applications and processes prior to sending data to the “live” production environment.
All entities that wish to participate in COD School Testing must submit the “COD School Testing 2008-2009 Sign-Up Sheet” to the COD School Relations Center. The sign-up document is located in the School Testing Guide, Volume V, Section 1, of the 2008-2009 COD Technical Reference posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site and is also available on the COD Web site under the “Click here if you are looking for more information on Common Origination and Disbursement.” link.
The following questions and answers provide useful high-level information about COD School Testing for the 2008-2009 Award Year:
Q1: Who should participate in COD School Testing for the 2008-2009 Award Year?
A1: Any school that will participate in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan), Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant), Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), or National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) program for the first time in the 2008-2009 Award Year must complete school testing with the COD System before sending data into production. The only exception to this is new schools using software from software providers or third party servicers.
While other schools are not required to test with the COD System, all schools, software providers, and third party servicers may participate in testing. We encourage schools that use a solution developed in-house (mainframe system, server, software, or other) to send and receive the COD Extensible Markup Language (XML) Common Record to test with the COD System.
Software providers and third party servicers may perform their own product testing on behalf of their customers. For example, the Department of Education (the Department) will test the EDExpress software before releasing it to schools. Schools should contact their software provider or third party servicer to discuss testing plans/concerns.
Q2: What are the testing phases?
A2: School testing is comprised of two phases—Phase I for Common Record Manual Verification and Phase II for Structured Application Testing. A school must complete Phase I testing before participating in Phase II testing. Following the completion of Phase I and Phase II testing, a school may participate in Unstructured Testing.
Phase I – Common Record Manual Verification
The purpose of Common Record Manual Verification testing is to ensure that a school's COD XML Common Record is well formed and properly structured according to the rules of the COD XML Common Record Schema Version 2.0e.
During this testing phase, the COD School Testing Support Team manually reviews a Common Record document that a school e-mails to the COD School Relations Center and assists the school in the identification of potential updates to its Common Record submissions. This testing phase will be available from January 2, 2008 through May 30, 2008.
Phase II – Structured Application Testing
The purpose of Structured Application Testing is to ensure that a school can send, receive, and process batches of records using comprehensive input instructions with detailed expected results issued by the COD School Relations Center. The school uses a test Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) file supplied by the COD School Relations Center that creates a test data set of students to use with the structured test cases.
During this phase, a school sends Common Record documents to the COD System and receives Receipt and Response documents back from the COD System. The school must verify that these files can be loaded and processed correctly in its system.
This testing phase will be available from April 7, 2008 through July 25, 2008. To participate in Phase II testing, a school must complete Phase I testing first. If a school completes Phase I testing before April 7, 2008, it must wait until the Phase II testing window opens.
The purpose of Unstructured Testing is to allow a school that has completed Phase I and Phase II testing to ensure that it can correctly create and submit all possible transactions needed for the future award year. The school uses the test ISIR file data and submits minor variations to test cases such as adjustments to the person information, award amounts, or disbursement amounts throughout the award year.
This optional testing phase will be available from June 2, 2008 through September 30, 2008.
Q3: How does a school sign up for COD School Testing?
A3: A school registers for testing by completing the “COD School Testing 2008-2009 Sign-up Sheet” located in the School Testing Guide, Volume V, Section 1, of the 2008-2009 COD Technical Reference posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site and is also available on the COD Web site under the “Click here if you are looking for more information on Common Origination and Disbursement.” link.
As explained in the sign-up document, a school may register to participate in Phase I testing, in both Phase I and Phase II testing, or in Phase I, Phase II, and Unstructured testing. In any case, the school must sign up by May 2, 2008.
Once completed, a school should submit the sign-up document to the COD School Relations Center by faxing it to 877/623-5082 or e-mailing it to CODsupport@acs-inc.com with “School Testing Signup” in the subject line. After the sign-up document is received, the COD School Relations Center will contact the school via e-mail to obtain school-specific information and to schedule specific test dates with the school.
Note: Upon receipt of the sign-up document, the COD School Testing Support Team must complete a considerable setup process to establish the school in the COD test environment before testing can begin. This process may take several weeks to complete. A school should take this setup process into account when planning to participate in COD School Testing and provide enough lead-time in its schedule.
If you have any questions about this announcement, contact the COD School Relations Center at 800/4PGRANT (800/474-7268) for ACG, National SMART Grant, and Pell Grant or 800/848-0978 for Direct Loan and ask for COD School Testing Support. You may also e-mail CODSupport@acs-inc.com with “COD School Testing Support” in the subject line.