Posted Date:May 13, 2010
Author: William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid
Subject: Update on Operational Implementation of Increased Title IV Student Assistance to Children of Certain Deceased Members of the U.S. Military
In an electronic announcement posted on November 6, 2009 to the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site, we provided background information and operational guidance on the statutory provisions for increased Title IV student financial assistance for a student whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.
Consistent with new provisions added to the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (the HEA), by the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), Public Law 110-315, under certain conditions an otherwise eligible student whose parent or guardian died as a result of U.S. military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, may receive increased amounts of Title IV student financial assistance. Such students are eligible for increased aid under these provisions if the student was less than 24 years of age when the parent or guardian died or, if the student was 24 or older, he or she was enrolled at an institution of higher education at the time of the parent or guardian’s death. Beginning with the 2010-2011 Award Year, this increased aid may include assistance from the new Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant Program.
The purpose of this announcement is to provide updated information about the process we are using to identify eligible students under these provisions. For detailed background information about the provisions and student eligibility, continue to refer to the November 6, 2009 electronic announcement.
Identifying Eligible Students for the 2009-2010 Award Year
As a reminder, the statutory benefit under this provision for the 2009-2010 Award Year is that, if an otherwise eligible student is Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant) eligible with a Pell eligible Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the student’s eligibility for all Title IV aid must be based on an EFC of zero and not on the EFC calculated by the Central Processing System (CPS). Note that for 2009-2010 there is no special benefit for students who do not have a Pell eligible EFC.
We have developed a process where, on a monthly basis, the Department of Defense (DoD) will provide us with a file that contains the names of individuals who have lost a parent or guardian as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan. We will match the identifiers of the individuals in the DoD file with 2009-2010 applicant records (FAFSA filers) in our Central Processing System (CPS). When we find a match between the DoD file and the CPS, we will check the student’s calculated EFC from the highest CPS transaction. If that EFC is greater than zero, we will notify the school the student attended during 2009-2010 that it must make an adjustment to the student’s financial aid package. We will contact the financial aid administrator at the schools listed on the student’s FAFSA, first by phone and then with a follow-up e-mail. If the student’s EFC is already zero we will send an e-mail notification only to alert the school that, while there is nothing that must be done for the 2009-2010 Award Year, the student’s eligibility may change in future award years.
In late April 2010, later than we originally anticipated, we received the first monthly file from the DoD. After matching with the CPS we have determined that there are fewer than 30 students who will be eligible for increased aid for the 2009-2010 Award Year. As part of our contact with the few schools that have students eligible for this special benefit for 2009-2010 (approximately 25 schools), we will provide a password-protected file containing the student’s identifying information as well as the student’s date of birth and the parent or guardian’s date of death.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will send a personal letter to each student, regardless of EFC, for whom a match is made. The Secretary’s letter will acknowledge the loss of the student’s parent or guardian and will provide the student with information on the possible increase in eligibility for Title IV aid. The letter will include an enclosure with specific information about the provision and advise the student to contact his or her financial aid administrator for more information.
This process for the 2009-2010 Award Year will continue through processing of the DoD file we receive in September 2010.
- As a reminder, the CPS will not recalculate a student’s EFC when the student’s CPS record matches the DoD file. In addition, a school should not make any changes to the student’s CPS record to adjust the EFC. Instead the school should award the student the types and amounts of Title IV aid that the student is eligible for based upon an EFC of zero. In the phone call and e-mail to schools, we will provide a contact name and number for handling unique 2009-2010 circumstances (e.g., subsidized and unsubsidized loans, late disbursements, student not enrolled for the full year, Return of Title IV aid).
- In the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System for the 2009-2010 Award Year, we have set the “Post 9/11 Deceased Veteran Dependent Indicator” to ‘true’ for students on the DoD file that have 2009-2010 Pell Grant originations or disbursements. This indicates to the COD System that a student is eligible for a Pell Grant based on an EFC of zero. This indicator is described in the November 6, 2009 electronic announcement. For a complete description of the COD System process for 2009-2010, refer to a June 24, 2009 electronic announcement and Volume II, Section 1 and Volume VI, Section 8 of the 2009-2010 COD Technical Reference.
Processing Exception: There were 20 students who did not have a Pell Grant record on file in the COD System for 2009-2010 and for whom we were unable to proactively set the “Post 9/11 Deceased Veteran Dependent Indicator” to ‘true’. For these students, a school must set the indicator to ‘true’ via the COD Web site when creating the student’s Pell Grant award.
Enhancements for 2010-2011 and Beyond
The statutory benefit under this provision for students with a calculated Pell Grant eligible EFC for the 2010-2011 and future Award Years is the same as for the 2009-2010 Award Year – all Title IV aid is to be awarded using a zero EFC. However, as noted earlier, beginning with the 2010-2011 Award Year, students who are otherwise Pell Grant eligible (undergraduate, etc.), but whose EFC is not Pell eligible, may receive the new Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant equal to the amount of the maximum Pell Grant for the award year, adjusted for enrollment status. Note that for these students all other Title IV aid must be based on the EFC calculated by the CPS.
As described in the November 6, 2009 electronic announcement, we have implemented an automated process for the 2010-2011 Award Year for notifying schools when we match a CPS record with a record from the DoD file. This process will allow us to check the DoD file each time a student submits a FAFSA or a FAFSA correction. Also, each time we receive the monthly file from the DoD we will check all records in the CPS. If there is a match, we will system-generate a new CPS transaction for the student. In both instances, the resulting ISIR will include the new “DoD Match Flag”, associated comment code 298, and the parent or guardian’s date of death. The DoD Match Flag will print with the other ISIR match flag information and can be used by schools to identify affected students. The school will use the flag and date of the parent or guardian’s death, along with the student’s calculated EFC, to determine if the student is eligible for a zero EFC for all Title IV aid or for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
As in 2009-2010, Secretary Duncan will send a personal letter (along with the enclosure) to each student for whom a match is made. The letter informs the student of his or her possible increase in eligibility for Title IV aid and advises the student to contact his or her financial aid administrator for more information. However, if the student had previously received a letter from the Secretary, we will just send the enclosure.
Additional information about these enhancements for 2010-2011 is provided in the 2010-2011 Summary of Changes for the Application Processing System guide, posted in early November 2009 to the IFAP Web site.
- For 2010-2011 awards, the COD System will receive DoD match results in the file it receives from the CPS. Once received, the “Post 9/11 Deceased Veteran Dependent Indicator” will automatically populate in an eligible student’s award provided the correct CPS transaction number is included in the origination record. The school will need to ensure that the CPS transaction number for the transaction that has the “DoD Match Flag” set to ‘Y’ is included in the award’s origination record. For a complete description of the COD System process for 2010-2011, refer to Volume II, Section 1 and Volume VI, Section 8 of the 2010-2011 COD Technical Reference.
- The March 27, 2010 COD System implementation did not include functionality needed to support the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant program. These grants begin with the 2010-2011 Award Year, but will be implemented in the COD System later this year. We will provide more information about this implementation through a forthcoming communication on the IFAP Web site.
If you have questions about the CPS/DoD match information in this announcement, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806) or by e-mail at CPSSAIG@ed.gov.
If you have questions about the COD System information in this announcement, contact the COD School Relations Center at 800/474-7268. You may also e-mail CODSupport@acs-inc.com.