Forward progress continues on the Next Gen FSA initiative and StudentAid.gov, our single front door on the web for students, parents, and borrowers. On Nov. 8, 2020, we made additional updates to features designed to improve the information and self-service tools available to our customers. These updates continue to provide students, parents, and borrowers with clear, actionable information about the aid they have received and personalized guidance on the loan repayment process.
This announcement summarizes new and updated features that are now available.
New Features on StudentAid.gov
Borrower Defense to Repayment Application – This feature provides an online, “smart” form to assist borrowers in completing and submitting a borrower defense to repayment application. The application does the following:
Informs borrowers of the circumstances that may lead to a borrower defense to repayment discharge and how an application aligns with their loan repayment journey.
Provides a user-friendly and interactive experience that guides borrowers through the application. Authenticated users will validate prepopulated data (demographic, school, program, and loan data information) which should help ensure that borrowers submit a complete and more accurate borrower defense to repayment application.
Features a drop-down menu of categories of school conduct that could result in eligibility for a borrower defense to repayment discharge (such as misrepresentations related to employment prospects or the transferability of credits) and then follows with targeted questions about each category of conduct. This will aid in the reduction of ineligible claims submitted to Federal Student Aid.
- Provides borrowers an option to ensure a forbearance or stopped collections status while the application is in review and also provides an interactive interest accrual calculator to illustrate the impact postponing payment will have if they are ultimately not eligible for a borrower defense to repayment discharge. This improvement will increase borrowers’ financial literacy and their awareness of the borrower defense to repayment application process.
Once the application is submitted, a borrower will be able to track the status of the application in the Status Center accessed through the borrower defense page or the borrower’s dashboard on StudentAid.gov.
Updated Features on StudentAid.gov
Several features were updated with this release.
Additional Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Help Tool Enhancements – We made two additional operational changes to help borrowers with the PSLF Program.
PSLF Help Tool Enhancements – Building on the recent PSLF Help Tool enhancements put in place on StudentAid.gov in June 2020 (see a June 29, 2020 Electronic Announcement), we completed a major update to the PSLF Help Tool’s design. The redesigned tool features a modernized interface and revised format to help borrowers more easily determine their eligibility for the PSLF Program, including a new, single PSLF form (explained more below). We also plan to expand functionality within the employer database, and borrowers who have used the tool before will be able to see a history of their submitted employment information. Finally, we will add a “My Loan Actions” feature. With this feature, borrowers answer a series of questions that will result in a customized table of borrower loan information and a personalized review of possible next steps to take to attain loan forgiveness.
- New, Single PSLF Form – As part of this update to StudentAid.gov, we launched a new, single form for the entire PSLF Program. The new form is called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application, or PSLF Form for short. The new form essentially combines the employment certification form and the forgiveness application to be one form. Following the StudentAid.gov update, borrowers will only need to submit this one form to certify their employment or to be considered for forgiveness under PSLF or TEPSLF. Note: FedLoan Servicing, our designated PSLF federal loan servicer, will continue to accept the existing (and separate) Employment Certification Form (ECF) and PSLF Application for Forgiveness forms, but we hope that this new, single form will reduce confusion for borrowers and make it simpler for borrowers to track their progress toward forgiveness.
Information about other operational updates we made to the PSLF Program was posted in an Oct. 28, 2020 Electronic Announcement.
New Loan Simulator Module – Loan Simulator has been further enhanced to add a “Borrow More” module to the existing tool. The “Borrow More” module allows borrowers to determine how taking out additional federal student loans (for continuing in their current program of study or enrolling in a new one) will affect their monthly payment amount.
- Processing Flow Updates – We made “look and feel” updates for many of the processing flows, including the Direct PLUS Loan Application, Endorser Addendum, Documenting Extenuating Circumstances (credit decision appeal),TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (ATS), and TEACH Grant Initial and Subsequent Counseling flows. In addition, several landing pages were reformatted, including the Teacher Cancellation and Low Income (TCLI) Directory, My Documents, and Repayment Forms landing pages. In all cases, the updates were made to align these changes with the rest of the StudentAid.gov website; no major content changes were made.
Additional Tools and Features Launching in 2021
Throughout 2021, additional tools and features will be introduced to improve our customers’ understanding of and interactions with the Title IV aid programs. Details about new tools and features will be provided in forthcoming Electronic Announcements posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website. We will also share information about the Next Gen FSA initiative through partner emails, social media posts, and targeted outreach campaigns to ensure everyone knows what to expect going forward.
We appreciate your patience and support as we implement the Next Gen FSA initiative.