2013-2014 FAFSA and DOMA
I have received lots of questions around how the recent Supreme Court’s decision may impact how certain students fill out the current FAFSA form. The message below is our official response at this time:
“At the President’s direction, the Department of Justice is working with all agencies, including the Department of Education, to review the recent Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act. This review will include the decision’s impact on the federal student aid programs in general and completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in particular. We will provide information and guidance on this matter as soon as it is available.”
As noted in the message, once more information is available we will share it with all interested parties. Stay tuned to IFAP.
FAFSA and the IRS DRT
This is a reminder about the June 12, 2013 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) press release which stated that the IRS will be closed due to furlough on Friday, July 5, 2013. This means that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will not be available for use with the FAFSA on the Web nor will students/parents be able to order an IRS Tax Return Transcript on that day. There is a posting to the IRS website, under “Tools” and Order a Transcript section.
In addition, FOTW (www.fafsa.ed.gov) has the following statement:
“The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be unavailable beginning on Friday, July 5 from 12:00 midnight to Saturday, July 6 at 5:00 a.m. ET. During this time, students can still complete and submit a FAFSA by entering the necessary tax return information manually.”
Please note that the next scheduled furlough date for the IRS is noted as Monday, July 22, 2013.
Voter Registration Forms
Dear Colleague Letter GEN-13-17 was recently posted reminding schools that in most states the HEA requires schools to make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to their students. Schools required to provide voter registration information include schools located in the District of Columbia, a state that requires voter registration prior to election day, or a state that does not allow voters to register at the time of voting. There are currently only a few states and territories that are exempt from this requirement of which none currently exist in the SASFAA region.
For more information please see DCL GEN-13-17 (http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN1317.html).
Subsidized DL interest rates as of July 1, 2013
We posted an electronic announcement today, July 3, 2013, discussing the change in interest rates for subsidized Direct Loans as of July 1, 2013 (from 3.4% to 6.8%). We have been hearing concerns from schools and families about how they should proceed in case Congress modifies the current subsidized Direct Loan interest rates. The announcement specifically indicates that the Administration continues to work with Congress to reach agreement on a plan to reverse the doubling of those interest rates. Further, the Administration has urged that any plan passed by Congress apply to all loans first disbursed after June 30, even loans already disbursed. If the law is changed, the Department and its servicers will adjust rates for all affected borrowers, including those who had already received their first subsidized loan disbursement, without any further action on the part of the borrower or the school.
Therefore, not only should students and their families continue to complete FAFSAs if they have not already done so, but schools should continue to award and originate Direct Subsidized Loans with estimated disbursement dates.
The Department will post to IFAP any new information surrounding changes to the subsidized DL interest rates as soon as it becomes available.
Since I still get questions from time to time on this topic I wanted to point out to all schools that the Department recently posted an electronic announcement dated June 27, 2013 (http://ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/062713PellGrantLEUDisputeEscalationProcess.html) that provides a step-by-step escalation process for schools and students to follow when disputing Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used percentages.
The attachment to the announcement describes what the specific responsibilities are for the student, current school, any former schools and the Department. Please note that we do stress that it is the responsibility of the student’s current school to coordinate the resolution of the reported dispute with the other parties; however, the former school is expected to cooperate with the current school’s request for information needed to document the alleged discrepancy. If the former school does not cooperate with the current school the current school’s escalation to the Department will result in direct follow-up by the Department with the former school.
Please see the June 27, 2013 electronic announcement and attachment for more information. If you have questions regarding the information included in this announcement, contact the COD School Relations Center at 800/474-7268 or CODSupport@ed.gov.
Federal Training Officer