Federal Student Aid Programs

With more than 25 years of experience advising and assisting public and private colleges and universities and proprietary schools with federal student aid programs, HEAG’s financial aid consultants are compliance experts. We frequently report on news and trends important to financial aid administrators. You can follow our blog and join us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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October 12, 2017

Year-round Pell is back for 2017-18. This is good news for Pell-eligible students who want to attend in the summer to accelerate their progress toward graduation. According to Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, “this decision is about empowering students and …

October 5, 2017

Early FAFSA This is the 2nd year of earlier FAFSA filing, with the date being pushed back to October 1 and where students and parents use prior prior year income. For instance, while filing the 18-19 FAFSA, students and parents will use their 2016 income. Upda …

October 5, 2017

Shifting Gainful Employment Regulations Regardless of your political leanings, the financial aid community may feel like they are in the middle of a game of ping pong. With shifting gainful employment regulations, proprietary for-profit colleges as well as sta …

October 2, 2017

$713 Million in Federal Financial Aid to be Paid Back? The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General has released the results of a compliance audit of Western Governors University. Citing concerns about an inadequate faculty role, the inspecto …

September 26, 2017

August 7, 2017 Authors:  Craig Munier, Assistant Director, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid ~ Lisa DiCarlo, Director, Student Experience Group, Federal Student Aid Subject:  Changes to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool Process for the 2018-19 F …

September 21, 2017

In the last few years, it seems data breaches have been become common place in our country. Back in 2013, giant retailer Target was hacked, affecting an estimated 70 million consumers. This caused many Americans to have their banks/credit card companies issue …

August 23, 2017

HEAG’s Summer Newsletter is now online. It includes articles for financial aid professionals on: Summer Reading and the Dream Act New Year-Round Pell: How It’s Different This Time Around Student Loan Servicers, And Then There Was One Are You Using Social Media …

July 20, 2017

The Higher Education Assistance Group’s blog includes more than 200 articles on financial aid topics prepared by the Group’s expert financial aid consultants and systems analysts. Search by topic: Compliance Federal Student Aid Programs Technology File Review …

June 7, 2017

Department of Education Releases Updated Federal Program Review Guide The U.S. Department of Education released the 2017-2018 Federal Program Review Guide for financial aid administrators on June 2, 2017.  The guide was made available for download via the IFAP …

May 22, 2017

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at @HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of our most recent tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 4/19/17 – HEAG’s Spring 2017 Newsletter for financial aid professional …

May 11, 2017

Submitting GE Schools which have eligible programs, usually considered “career training,” that are required to report gainful employment (GE) information got some unexpected news on March 6th. The original deadline for submitting the GE alternate earnings appe …

April 20, 2017

IRS Data Retrieval Tool Nationwide, college financial aid offices and their students are being impacted by the current outage of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. The outage, now expected to continue until the start of next FAFSA season, was in response to security …

April 19, 2017

HEAG’s Spring 2017 Newsletter for financial aid professionals is here! This issue includes: HEAG’s Consultants Share Their Favorite Commencement Memories HEAG ~ Growing to Serve You HEAG’s Annual Staff Training 7 Principles of Great Service Gainful Employment …

February 16, 2017

Ask the Students Instinctively, you may want to answer “yes” to that question. You are a college president, supervisor, or director that wants your students to be taken care of. You have mentioned it several times in staff meetings. You send email reminders to …

January 6, 2017

  The week of October 17th, 2016, the National Student Loan Database (NSLDS) generated and sent a report to the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) mailbox for schools that were required to report Gainful Employment (GE) data. These recently uploaded file …

December 9, 2016

The time has come and gone, with the new 2017-18 already launched on October 1st, 2016 and students completing a FAFSA that won’t go into effect for another nine months. So it’s time to start strategizing for the upcoming verification season. These are new tim …

November 18, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at @HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of our most recent tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 10/24/16 – Looking for the latest info on #financialaid ED policies? T …

October 31, 2016

HEAG’s Fall 2016 Newsletter is here. This issue includes: HEAG ~ Growing to Serve You Tech Talk Corner – 2017/2018 Has Begun! Gainful Employment Debt-to-Earnings – An In-Depth Look HEAG ~ Recent and Upcoming events Upcoming Changes to 2017-18 Verification Proc …

October 26, 2016

On September 28th, President Obama announced that once again, the maximum Pell grant award for 2017-18 would be increasing to $5920 but few other details were available at the time.  A little over a week ago, the Department of Education released the latest Pel …

September 29, 2016

We are approaching the milestone anniversary of President Obama announcing the significant changes coming to the 2017-18 FAFSA form.  The revisions were announced on September 14th, 2015 and are about to become reality for aid offices all over the world which …

September 26, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at @HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of our most recent tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 8/24/16 – The #CFPB comes down hard on #WellsFargo, who will be refund …

August 24, 2016

It wasn’t the numbers in the blog post, “FAFSA Non-Filers: What the Research Says,” by Paula Acevedeo on the National College Access Network¹ that caught
 our attention, it was the experiments conducted by ideas42. With at least 2 million students failing to c …

August 9, 2016

HEAG was proud to be a part of the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO) recent Spring 2016 Workshop held at the New School in New York City on June 15th, 2016.  The workshop topics included fund accounting, tax update, risk …

July 27, 2016

Accreditation and Compliance Standards At the forefront of education is the notion of accountability. Whether post-secondary or secondary, at times we all wonder why so much oversight and what really is the role of regulatory bodies, accreditation agencies, an …

July 26, 2016

Proprietary Schools Accreditation Concerns In mid-June, the Department of Education (ED) announced a new round of proposed regulations aimed at the proprietary sector of higher education. “We won’t sit idly by while dodgy schools leave students with piles of d …

July 21, 2016

HEAG’s quarterly Newsletter reports on developments in the financial aid industry. Topics include administering Title IV aid efficiently and effectively, maintaining compliance, file review and verification, staffing solutions and technology tools. The Summer …

June 14, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at @HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of our most recent tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 6/6/16 – POLL: Why did you choose the college you went to? Tweet us yo …

May 19, 2016

HEAG Can Help With Interim Staffing. Many financial aid offices are experiencing the pressure to increase productivity, meet deadlines and improve customer service. You don’t have to do it alone! Our team of consultants are COMPLIANCE EXPERTS, experienced with …

April 25, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at @HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of last week’s tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education.   4/18/16 – Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, HEAG offices were closed …

April 22, 2016

TRUE or FALSE. Your school offers programs that include self-paced or independent study courses that overlap terms. TRUE or FALSE. Your school has programs that measure progress in clock hours. TRUE or FALSE. Your school has programs that have courses that ove …

April 20, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at @HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of last week’s tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 4/11/16 – Free #communitycollege tuition survey results from Presidents of …

April 19, 2016

On September 14, 2015, President Obama announced major changes impacting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process for award year 2017-2018. These changes include early filing access and the use of prior-prior year data (use of 2015 income i …

April 11, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at @HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of last week’s tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 4/4/16 –  From #PLUSloan interest rate decreases to #Pellgrants needing to …

April 8, 2016

On March 23rd, 2016, the House Budget Committee (HBC) released more detail surrounding spending cuts on some key higher education programs.  There remains a dichotomy between the Republican controlled Congress and the Democratic White House as they both attemp …

April 5, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at@HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of last week’s tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 3/28/16 – Financial aid fraud is a problem that offices need to be aware of …

March 28, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at@HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of last week’s tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 3/21/16 – More guidance released from #ED on the 17-18 #PriorPriorYear rule …

March 22, 2016

We share industry news and stories on Twitter throughout the week at @HEAG_INC. Here is a recap of last week’s tweets, focusing on topics of Title IV financial aid and higher education. 3/14/16 – #PriorPriorYear FAFSA Toolkit available for your campus, thanks …

March 10, 2016

March 10th, 2016 In Part One of a three-part blog series, we wrote about the tuition-free, community college proposal President Obama is looking for in his 2017 budget.  In Part Two, we took a look at the Pell grant overhaul that he is seeking and the final Pa …

March 9, 2016

March 9th, 2016 In Part One of a three-part blog series, we analyzed President Obama’s community college initiatives in full detail which included information on his grand idea of tuition free, public education through the America’s College Promise Act of 2015 …

March 8, 2016

March 8th, 2016 On February 9th, 2016, President Obama unveiled fiscal year 2017 plans to the tune of a $4.2 trillion spending package, with Education taking up $69.4 billion of that figure overall (an increase of 1.3 billion or 2% over prior year).  While the …

March 2, 2016

On February 11th, the Department of Education (DOE) released its guidance for financial aid professionals via a Dear Colleague Letter, regarding how professional judgment (PJ) cases will be handled starting in the 2017-18 award year, once “prior-prior year inc …

February 17, 2016

A new, 60-page study from the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA shows a somewhat surprising correlation between the increases in tuition and the access to financial aid between 1987 and 2010 at the nation’s private colleges.  In those cohor …

February 8, 2016

On February 8th, 2016, the Department of Education announced the creation of a “Student Enforcement Unit” that can aggressively bring action against schools that are in violation of certain rules in higher education. “When Americans invest their time, money an …

January 19, 2016

01/19/2016 As of December 17, 2015, federal student loan borrowers have a new income- driven repayment plan at their disposal. REPAYE is an acronym for Revised Pay As You Earn. The program is aimed at capping student loan payments to 10% of the borrower’s disc …

January 14, 2016

01/14/2016 In danger without any action from Congress, a tentative deal to extend the Perkins Loan Program through September 30, 2017 has been passed and then signed by the President on December 18, 2015, saving the program for another two years. Named for exa …

December 5, 2015

Posted December 5th, 2014 In the spring of 2015, all federal student aid websites, including FAFSA on the web, NSLDS student access and StudentLoans.gov, will no longer utilize the PIN for login, a method that has been in place for over a decade. In its place, …

November 4, 2015

View HEAG’s recent blog postings, NYSFAAA Fall 2015 Conference recap and upcoming events.  Click here to view HEAG’s latest news.

October 22, 2015

Posted:  October 22, 2015 By:  Jeff Megargell, HEAG Consultant   The Perkins Loan Program, a stalwart of the federal aid programs for over 50 years and servicing half a million students a year to the tune of $1.2 billion, is being phased out of existence. …

September 30, 2015

HEAG’s Fall 2015 Newsletter includes articles on Gainful Employment, When the Feds Audit the Feds, The Struggles of Small Schools, Consultant Spotlight – Brittany Barker, and a FAFSA Survey. Sign up to receive HEAG’s newsletters via email.

September 14, 2015

Posted:  September 4, 2015 By:  Colleen King, Executive Director, HEAG With the recent regulations governing Gainful Employment (GE) reporting and disclosure requirements taking effect on July 31st, 2015, many schools thought to be in compliance are now being …

August 26, 2015

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about some of the hurdles students and families face when completing the FAFSA. In Part 2, I examined the pros and cons of some of the proposed changes to FAFSA. In Part 3, I provide suggestions for how schools can help studen …

August 26, 2015

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about some of the hurdles students and families face when completing the FAFSA. In Part 2, I have examined the pros and cons of some of the proposed changes to FAFSA. Tennessee Senator, Lamar Alexander, believes that it is unn …

August 11, 2015

Posted:  August 11, 2015 By: Jane Domenico, HEAG Consultant In March of this year, the Department of Education released a partial list of the nearly 560 institutions that, as of March 1, were subject to the financial restrictions known as Heightened Cash Monit …

August 3, 2015

Part 1: The Hurdles for Low Income and Diverse Families Any higher education financial aid administrator can attest to the hundreds of varying questions students and their families have regarding financial aid each year. However, before any of those questions …

May 28, 2015

Published on May 28, 2015 Federal Stafford, PLUS, SLS and Consolidation Interest Rates for July 1 2015-July 1 2016 are now available. The Federal Student Aid (an office of the U.S. Department of Education) charts are available here: Federal Stafford, Federal P …

April 27, 2015

Posted Date: April 12, 2013 Author: William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid Subject: Federal Perkins Loan Program Status of Default as of June 30, 2012 (Orange Book) We have posted the Federal Perkins Loan Program Status of Def …

December 31, 2014

Posted: December 31, 2014 There was some mixed reaction on the news for Pell Grant recipients as Congress passed a last-minute spending bill before the holiday recess on December 10, 2014. The maximum Pell Grant was increased about 2%, expected to be $5,850 fo …

December 12, 2014

Posted: December 12, 2014 The highly contentious issue of “gainful employment” rules, which mainly apply to for-profit and career schools, centers around the idea that students should receive jobs once they graduate from a program and the student should be abl …

October 23, 2013

Posted:  October 23, 2013 October 1, 2013 marked the first day of the 2014 federal fiscal calendar. With the start of the new fiscal year also comes the start of new budget cuts. There are many different areas of the budget that will be affected by sequestrati …

June 13, 2013

Posted Date: June 7, 2013 Author: William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid Subject: TEACH Grant Closeout Information for 2012-2013 Award Year The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant closeo …

May 20, 2013

Posted Date: May 16, 2013 Author: Jeff Baker, Director, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid Subject: 150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit: Electronic Announcement #1 – Interim Final Regulations Published NOTE: This Electronic Announcement is th …

May 20, 2013

IFAP has released the updated Blue Book for 2013 which has not been updated since 2007.

April 10, 2013

Pam Gilligan sent this reminder to all State representatives to share with the listserv. Deadline Reminder:  2013-2014 Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program Community Service Waiver Requests Just a quick reminder that any requests by schools to waive the 2013-2014 …

March 21, 2013

From SASFAA: Late this afternoon, the United States Senate adopted (by voice vote) Amendment # 72 to H.R. 933, the Continuing Resolution (Continuing Appropriations Bill) that will fund the federal government through the end of Fiscal Year 2013 (September 30, 2 …

March 21, 2013

Author: Katrina Turner, Director, Operations Performance Division, Federal Student Aid Subject: FY 2011 2-Year Draft Cohort Default Rates Distributed March 18, 2013 On March 18, we distributed the FY 2011 2-Year Draft Cohort Default Rate notification packages …

March 20, 2013

From SASFAA: As many of you are aware, the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force have suspended their Military Tuition Assistance Programs while the Navy still considers their options. http://www.nasfaa.org/Main/orig/2013/Army,_Marine_Corps,_and_Air_Force_to_Suspe …

March 12, 2013

Please see the attachment for a general guidance on when tax filers can expect that their 2012 tax return information will be available for the FAFSA on the Web IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) and for requesting IRS Tax Return Transcripts for purposes of com …

March 4, 2013

Posted Date: April 5, 2013 Author: Jeff Baker, Director, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid Subject: Update: Impact of Sequestration on the Title IV Student Aid Programs In two previous Electronic Announcements (March 1, 2013 and March 15, …

February 21, 2013

As a direct result of the amendment made to the 2001 Higher Education Act, federal financial aid was suspended for two years for any student convicted.  Such amendment was made to do two primary things: 1) Discourage students, or potential students, from viola …

February 21, 2013

As of February 1, 2013, tentative funding levels for 2013-2014 Campus-Based Programs were posted on the eCampus-Based Website.  Email notifications were sent directly to the school’s Financial Aid Administrator as listed upon the most recently submitted Fiscal …

February 1, 2013

The Department of Education just announced the availability of the 2013 Blue Book and Application and Verification Guide of the 2013-2014 Federal Student Aid Handbook. The Blue Book consists of numbered volumes and appendices. Each volume and appendix is poste …

January 17, 2013

The distribution of 2013-2014 Renewal Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Reminders by the Central Processing System (CPS) will begin on January 17, 2013 and will continue through January 23, 2013.

January 1, 2013

Late this afternoon the Department of Education posted an electronic announcement (EA) on IFAP regarding implementation of sequestration cuts. The EA provides some new information on loan origination fee increases and TEACH Grants. Loan origination fees will i …

December 17, 2012

The 2012-2013 Federal Student Aid Handbook Errata and Updates are now available.  Go to: http://ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/1213FSAHandbookErrata.html The errata and updates are items that were amended after the initial PDF files were posted to the Web. For questi …

December 13, 2012

Publication Date: December 19, 2012 DCL ID: GEN-12-22 Subject: Approval of Income-Based/Pay As You Earn/Income-Contingent Repayment Plan Request Form Summary: This letter announces the approval of the form Direct Loan and FFEL borrowers will use to request an …

December 10, 2012

The Department of Education is need your help.  Federal Student Aid (an Office of the U.S. Department of Education) selects training topics for various webinars, classes and computer based offerings presented throughout the year.  Those choices are largely bas …

November 27, 2012

The Department of Education just announced the release of the indexed version of the 2012-2013 Federal Student Aid Handbook. A PDF version of this document is available on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site at  http://ifap.ed.gov/f …

October 4, 2012

All financial aid professionals that administer Pell can collectively agree, the rules laid out by the Department of Education change at a mind-boggling pace.  Every time that schools start to feel confident about how Pell is calculated, to whom, and for how l …

August 1, 2012

The  Department of Education recently sent out a notice (DCL ID: GEN-12-08) offering guidance to schools that contract with a third party servicer.  This announcement reminds institutions of their responsibilities when they enter into contracts. A “third party …

July 13, 2012

Student Loan Interest Rate for Subsidized Loans will remain at 3.4% for one more year. The House passed the bill 373-52. The Senate passed the bill 74-19 barely beating the July 1 deadlline when rates would double.

April 3, 2012

The FY 2010 3-Year Cohort Default Rate Notification packages to all eligible domestic and foreign schools were sent on March 25, 2013. FY 2011 2-Year Draft Cohort Default Rate were sent on Monday, March 18, 2013.

September 12, 2011

For those schools new to Direct Loans, reconciliation is a federal requirement and is required of all DL participants. On a monthly basis, schools must ensure that not only do their internal records match (between the FAO and the Business Office), but that the …