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2019 Session Descriptions

**Subject to change.

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General Sessions



GS1. Welcome & Keynote Presentations
Join Secretary Betsy DeVos as she shares her vision for higher education, describes the policies the Department is championing to address the growing federal student loan portfolio, and discusses the Department’s efforts to bring federal student aid into the 21st century. FSA Chief Operating Officer Mark Brown will reveal what’s next for students and financial aid administrators in the Next Gen FSA initiative.


GS2. Federal Update
Senior officials from the Department of Education (ED) will present information and updates about ED’s Title IV activities and initiatives, including information about ED’s regulatory efforts.

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GS3. Day 2 Keynote Address - Can You Believe We Achieved Consensus?!
ED recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking for accreditation and are now in the process of finalizing the rule for changes that the rulemaking committee made to the accreditation process. This session will focus on reaching consensus with the rulemaking committee.


GS4. Verification (2019-20 and 2020-21)
Session Description: This session will include a discussion of the verification requirements for the 2020–21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) cycle and verification issues related to the 2019–20 FAFSA cycle.

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GS5. Application Processing
This session will provide an in-depth look into the evolving changes that are revolutionizing the process of understanding and applying for student aid. Session participants will learn about recent and upcoming FAFSA changes, including updates to FAFSA Web, myStudentAid App and Central Processing System. There will also be updates to the Department of Homeland Security SAVE Program.

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Breakout Sessions



Welcome to Your First Federal Student Aid Training Conference (FSATC)
Are you new to the FSATC? This session will help you get the most out of the conference by showing you how to navigate the four-day agenda and how to determine which sessions will best meet your needs. You will also learn who attends the conference, what services are available and how to get answers to your questions.

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1. Administering Disbursements
Come learn with Department officials as we explore the flexibilities and restrictions when handling Title IV funds. In this session we will discuss various aspects of properly disbursing Title IV funds including Title IV credit balances, early and late disbursements, post-withdrawal disbursements, and retroactive disbursements. In addition, we will review G5 drawdowns, G5 and Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System interactions, and timely and accurate system reporting. We will also provide information regarding how to disburse or return funds if improper payments occur or if a student regains eligibility.

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2. Administering Adds, Drops, and Withdrawals
This session will address the activities a financial aid administrator must perform when a student adds or drops courses as well as when a student withdraws (excluding R2T4 calculation). Discussion and case scenarios will be provided concerning recalculation rules and census dates in various situations as students add and drop courses. This session will also provide an in-depth explanation concerning student withdrawals on such topics as school attendance, official and unofficial withdrawals, determining the date of withdrawal, and reporting deadlines.

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3. Title IV Reconciliation: What’s in your Toolkit?
Do you want to hone the tools in your Title IV reconciliation toolkit? Or do you need assistance to identify the right tool(s) for the job? Then this session is for you! We will discuss the key concepts for reconciliation of federal student aid program funds (Direct Loans, Federal Pell Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and the Campus-Based Programs), as well as end of year processing and closeout. Then, we will open our tool kit and explore tips, tools, and resources for use by Financial Aid and Business Office staff, including new and updated items you just don’t want to miss.

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4. National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) Update
In this session, we will recap the changes made to the NSLDS® website and reports for schools in 2019. This will include a high-level review of updates made to support Loan Data, Enrollment Reporting, and other NSLDS functionality.

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5. Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System Update
This session will provide an overview of recent modifications to the COD system for the 2019-20 processing cycle, and other changes impacting Direct Loan and Grant Programs. This session will also include information about anticipated system enhancements and modifications for the upcoming 2020–21 award year including processing changes for the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act.

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6. Understanding Your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy
At least once per year, institutions must assess whether students are making SAP. This session will offer instruction on how to evaluate SAP in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. We will provide an explanation of key concepts such as qualitative and quantitative (pace) measurements, maximum time frame, warning and probation periods, appeals, and academic plans. Where appropriate, examples will be provided to help demonstrate the elements that a school is required to include in its SAP policy.

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7. College Scorecard
This session will review certain data elements published in the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard and how data from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) are used to derive those data elements. In particular, the session will review the role of Enrollment Reporting in deriving these data elements and explore how to effectively use new features on the NSLDS Financial Aid Professionals website to ensure the completeness and integrity of your institution's enrollment reporting data.

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8. Cash Management: Institutional Charges
This session will focus on institutional charges and how they affect your administration of the Title IV Programs. We will explain what an institutional charge is, describe when you can credit Title IV funds to a student’s account to pay for such charges, and provide examples for how to prorate institutional charges that are intended for a period longer than a payment period. We will also explain your responsibilities when a student has a Title IV credit balance, including when you must provide a way for the student to obtain books and supplies in a timely manner.

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9. Year-Round Federal Pell Grant Exploration and Answers
Our most popular session from the 2017 and 2018 FSA Training Conferences is revamped to serve you better! As the Year-round Federal Pell Grant provision is no longer "new", this year's session will focus on your questions. It will provide an opportunity for you to pepper Pell Grant experts with your Year-round Federal Pell Grant specific policy and operational questions. A school representative will also share their institution's Year-round Federal Pell Grant implementation and outreach strategies used to engage their varied population. So, skip the Ask-a-Fed line, and come prepared to step up to the mic. Need just the basics on Year-Round Federal Pell Grants? The past year's recorded sessions are still available on the FSA conference website.

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10. Professional Judgment
This session will explore the statutory ability to make case-by-case adjustments based on special circumstances, commonly known as professional judgment (PJ). The session will include information on what is and what is not PJ, documentation requirements, how PJ interacts with verification, and the mechanics of making Cost of Attendance and Expected Family Contribution data element adjustments. Newly updated for 2019...come for examples, resources, and references.

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11. Regulatory Update - Borrower Defense to Repayment
This session will provide an overview of the policy issues from the final 2019 Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations, including borrower defense, closed school, and false certification discharges, as well as changes to financial responsibility. NOTE: The session does not cover borrower defense application processing.

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12. Regulatory Update - Accreditation
From January through April 2019 the Department conducted a series of negotiated rulemaking sessions on topics intended to promote greater access for students to high-quality, innovative programs. This session will discuss the final regulations on the Accreditation regulations.

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13. Regulatory Update - State Authorization for Distance Education and Distance Education
From January through April 2019 the Department conducted a series of negotiated rulemaking sessions on topics intended to promote greater access for students to high-quality, innovative programs. This session will discuss the final regulations on State authorization distance education and related disclosures. This session will also provide a regulatory update on proposed changes related to Distance Education topics discussed by negotiators.

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14. Regulatory Update – TEACH Grant and Faith-Based Issues
From January through April 2019 the Department conducted a series of negotiated rulemaking sessions on topics intended to promote greater access for students to high-quality, innovative programs. This session will provide an update on proposed changes to the TEACH Grant Program and faith-based institutional eligibility regulations.

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15. Reporting for the Campus-Based Programs, Assigning Loans to the Department, and Reimbursing Service Cancellations for Perkins
This session will not only focus on the importance of complete and accurate reporting for the Campus-Based Programs on the FISAP and in the Common Origination and Disbursement System but will also focus on the accurate reporting of Perkins Loans in the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS®). There will be a discussion on reimbursing schools for Perkins Loan service-related cancellation, assignments and other topics to assist schools in navigating the yellow brick road of participation in the Campus-Based Programs.

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16. Open Forum
This question-and-answer session will give conference attendees an opportunity to ask questions and offer suggestions to Department of Education senior staff.

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17. Financial Aid Data Use and Student Privacy
This session will provide an overview of the different laws governing the privacy and confidentiality of student aid data and how they apply to different data use scenarios. The laws discussed during this session will include the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Privacy Act of 1974, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the Appropriations Act, 2019.

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18. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF)
This session will include discussions about the programmatic aspects and implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, updates to the Department's processes, and the Temporary Expanded PSLF opportunity, which was created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018.

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19. Student Eligibility
There are many factors to consider when determining a student’s eligibility for FSA Programs, such as whether the student is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, whether the applicant is enrolled in an eligible program, and whether he or she has a defaulted FSA loan. In this session, attendees will receive an overview of the eligibility requirements for students and the institution’s responsibilities in ensuring that recipients qualify for their financial aid offers.

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20. Return of Title IV Funds: Resources and Q&A
Have you been waiting to stump the feds with your tricky Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) questions? This is your chance! This session will provide a high-level overview of the R2T4 requirements and resources where you can obtain more information. Then it will offer an extended question-and-answer period with the Department's experts on the topic.

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21. Program Review Essentials and the Top 10 Compliance Findings
Would you like to learn about the program review process and the most common compliance findings? We will conduct a walk-through of the program review process, highlighting the areas with the current "Top 10 Program Review and Audit Findings." Learn what you can do to improve your school's program administration and to remain in compliance.

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22. Maintaining Your Institutional Eligibility
This session will cover what FAAs need to know about maintaining their school's eligibility to participate in the Title IV Programs. Topics include information about the recertification process focusing on the various requirements and preparations schools should be conducting in the three to six months prior to submitting their application; what events trigger the need to submit an updated eligibility application; the information a school needs to submit for different types of eligibility applications; and common errors and pitfalls to avoid while submitting eligibility applications.

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23. The Clery Act: Hate Crimes, Sexual Violence, and Emergency Management
Campus safety is a major issue for every school - large or small, urban, suburban or rural, public or private. Developing an effective safety program needs to be an essential part of your school’s overall risk management strategy and is one of the best ways to protect the "brand." In this session, you will learn about emerging campus safety issues, including hate crimes prevention, sexual violence prevention and response, and emergency management basics. Attendees will also receive practical advice and learn effective strategies for developing and implementing vital campus safety policies, procedures, and programs. The Department's enhanced disaster response program will also be explained.

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24. Protecting Sensitive Data and Minimizing Fraud Through an Integrated Approach
Cybercrime or the theft of data is a growing precursor to financial crime. Information technology leaders and financial aid administrators responsible for detecting and preventing fraud need good collaboration to be fully effective. This session will help you better understand how the basic cybersecurity controls (cyber hygiene) essential to detect and prevent intrusion and exfiltration of data increasingly overlap with fraud detection and prevention capabilities. The session will also discuss non-cyber related fraud risks and strategies to identify and mitigate those risks.

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25. Cybersecurity – The Challenges Facing FAA's
This session focuses on the cybersecurity challenges facing Financial Aid Administrators (FAAs) and Information Technology (IT) managers. The session will begin with a brief overview of federal IT cybersecurity initiatives and the threat landscape that affects postsecondary institutions (PSI). This session will discuss compliance requirements, threats to the PSI's, and best practices for data protection and identity theft. Additionally, the session will define what constitutes a breach, discuss common and not so common examples of breaches, describe how to report a breach to FSA, and the FSA process to manage breach reports. This session will close with a question and answer period by FSA experts in cybersecurity.

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26. What Happens at the Department When There is a Cybersecurity Breach?
This panel session will describe the breach response roles and actions of the three main Department cybersecurity players:

  1. The FSA Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
  2. The Department's CISO
  3. The Department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
The panel will discuss the Department response process from each of their unique perspectives and describe what happens at the Department on the lifecycle of a breach from the time it is discovered/reported until it is resolved. The discussion will focus on fraud, disclosure of sensitive information (i.e. PII), and compromises of information systems. The session will end with a question and answer period.

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27. Financial Literacy Matters
Financial literacy support services and resources can contribute to student success. Learn about FSA’s commitment to financial literacy and hear from a panel of experts from the state of Texas. They will share their coordinated approach to financial literacy and provide details on their services and resources that help students make smart financial decisions that contribute to academic and financial success. Findings from a recent higher education report by the federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission will be shared.

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28. Understanding Cohort Default Rates (CDR) and How to Develop and Implement Effective Default Prevention Plans
The CDR Team will explore challenges, adjustments, and appeal processes. Presenters will provide information on cohort default rates, potential sanctions, and specific examples, deadlines, and suggestions that may help you submit a complete appeal package. Participants will also learn how to interpret key requirements and critical NSLDS® reporting during the challenge and appeal cycle. Also, the Default Prevention Team will be on hand to offer guidance on creating a default prevention strategy and to help answer questions concerning your school's ability to effectively develop or improve their default prevention plans and initiatives.

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29. Next Gen StudentAid.gov Walkthrough and Coming Attractions!
FSA will provide an overview of our plans for a new digital platform which combines four websites (StudentLoans.gov, StudentAid.gov, FSA ID, and NSLDS) along with their corresponding functionalities. We will walk through specific features to highlight the improved experience for our students and borrowers.

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30. Internal and External Threats Facing Title IV Institutions
Special agents and analysts from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) will discuss internal and external financial aid fraud threats currently facing institutions of higher education. The presenters will discuss real case examples of these threats, and how OIG’s investigative mission to combat fraud and abuse in federal student aid programs can help your organization safeguard those programs by identifying and detecting fraud. The presenters will illustrate complex and common fraud schemes, brief you on indicators that can help you detect internal and external fraud, discuss the criminal and civil remedies sought by the OIG, and inform you concerning how to report potential fraud to the OIG. A question and answer period is planned as part of this presentation.

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31. New Student Advising Tools
A joint session with FSA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) discussing new interactive web tools to support students in making a plan to pay for college. Come see the beta versions and give feedback before release in Spring 2020.

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32. Experimental Site – Institutional Investment in Student Success Many institutions are concerned about rising student loan debt and the negative impact this debt will have on students’ long-term prospects. Yet under current Title IV regulations, institutions are left with few tools to proactively and effectively limit student borrowing. Under this proposed experiment, we seek to determine which tools would be employed most effectively by institutions to limit student borrowing while improving student success, and what regulations would need to change in order to permit all institutions to employ such tools. The Department will waive a number of our current regulations to allow institutions to limit borrowing, including at the program level based on expected earnings data reported by the College Scorecard; use institution-provided loan reduction or forgiveness programs to reward students for reaching academic benchmarks; or permit students to refinance Federal Loans and instead make one affordable payment that fits their post-graduation earnings.

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Hands-On Sessions



HO1. Hands-On NSLDS®
This session will introduce you to the basic functionality of the NSLDS® Professional Access website and will provide an overview of the website's features, including loan and grant history, enrollment reporting, transfer monitoring, and reports. Note: This room is set with 174 seats in front of laptops and another 108 seats behind to observe.

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HO2. Hands-On COD Basics
This basic session will take the user on a tour of the COD website and demonstrate functionality available for the successful processing of federal student aid. Bring your FSA user ID, password, and token and we will practice together using your school information. To maintain the privacy of student information, if you share a computer with a colleague that is not from your school, you will be using alternate practice sessions, instead of working with your school data. Note: This room is set with 174 seats in front of laptops and another 108 seats behind to observe.

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HO3. Hands-On COD Advanced
This session will take the user on a tour of the COD website and demonstrate additional functionality within the Batch menu, Services menu, and review the plethora of data and reports available within the Person menu. Bring your FSA user ID, password, and token and we will practice together using your school information. To maintain the privacy of student information, if you share a computer with a colleague that is not from your school, you will be using alternate practice sessions, instead of working with your school data. Note: This room is set with 174 seats in front of laptops and another 108 seats behind to observe.

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Birds of a Feather Networking Sessions



BOF1. Bursars and Business Officers
In this session, bursars and other school staff will meet to discuss issues important to their business offices, including cash management rules and Title IV financial responsibility standards.

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BOF2. Experimental Sites Initiative: Creating and Expanding Work-and-Learn Opportunities using Federal Work-Study Funds
In this session, schools participating in the experiment will have an opportunity to ask questions about the experiment. The Department will discuss application status updates, implementation plans, and reporting and evaluation requirements.

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BOF3. Experimental Sites Initiative: Second Chance Pell
Schools participating in the Second Chance Pell experiment will have the opportunity to share with institutional colleagues’ best practices, challenges and opportunities, provide feedback, and exchange ideas related to the experiment. This experiment is not currently accepting additional schools for participation but conference attendees interested in learning more about the Second Chance Pell experiment may attend.

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BOF4. Minority-Serving Institutions: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs)
In this session, financial aid stakeholders at HBCUs and PBIs will meet and discuss best practices, current challenges and opportunities, provide feedback, and make suggestions for future initiatives. FSA’s Minority-Serving and Under-Resourced Schools Division staff will monitor this session.

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BOF5. Minority-Serving Institutions: Tribal Colleges and Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (ANNHSIs)
In this session, financial aid stakeholders at Tribally-Controlled Colleges and Universities and Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions will meet and discuss best practices, current challenges and opportunities, provide feedback, and make suggestions for future initiatives. FSA's Minority-Serving and Under-Resourced Schools Division staff will monitor this session.

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BOF6. Minority-Serving Institutions: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)
In this session, financial aid stakeholders at Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions will meet and discuss best practices, current challenges and opportunities, provide feedback, and make suggestions for future initiatives. FSA’s Minority-Serving and Under-Resourced Schools Division staff will monitor this session.

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BOF7. Community Colleges
In this session, community college financial aid professionals will meet to discuss best practices, current challenges, and opportunities. FSA's School Experience staff will monitor this session.

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BOF8. Graduate and Professional Schools
In this session, financial aid professionals from graduate institutions will meet to discuss best practices, current challenges, and opportunities. FSA's School Experience staff will monitor this session.

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BOF9. Proprietary Institutions
This session will provide an opportunity for financial aid professionals from proprietary institutions to meet collectively to discuss best practices, current challenges, and opportunities.

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BOF10. Audits of Institutions Receiving Title IV Funds
Program staff and the OIG Non-Federal Audit Team will invite schools and auditors to discuss issues related to annual audits of institutions receiving Title IV funds, including current challenges and suggestions for future revisions to audit guidance. This would allow both proprietary schools and non-profit colleges and universities to weigh in on changes to the compliance supplement and audit guides.

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Foreign Schools Sessions



FS1. Orientation to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference
This session will provide an overview of the Department of Education and the role of the offices within FSA. Information will be provided on the foreign school track sessions, and there will be recommendations of which sessions foreign school representatives should attend to complement the sessions offered during the foreign school track.

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FS2. National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) Hands-On
Session Description: This session will introduce you to the basic functionality of the NSLDS® Professional Access website and will provide an overview of the website's features, including loan and grant history, enrollment reporting, transfer monitoring, and reports. Note: This room is set with 174 seats in front of laptops and another 108 seats behind to observe.

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FS3. Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System Hands-On
Session Description: This basic session will take the user on a tour of the COD System website and demonstrate functionality available for day to day successful processing of Title IV aid. If you are sharing a PC with a school colleague, bring your FSA user ID, password, and token, and we will practice together using your school information. Note: This room is set with 174 seats in front of laptops and another 108 seats behind to observe.

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FS4. Administering Disbursements for Foreign Schools
Come learn with Department officials as we explore the flexibilities and restrictions when handling Title IV funds. In this session we will discuss various aspects of properly disbursing Title IV funds including Title IV credit balances, early and late disbursements, post-withdrawal disbursements, and retroactive disbursements. In addition, we will review G5 drawdowns, G5 and COD interactions, and timely and accurate system reporting. We will also provide information regarding how to disburse or return funds if improper payments occur or if a student regains eligibility.

Download PDF of Presentation





FS5. Foreign Schools: Return of Title IV (R2T4) Basic Principles for Foreign Schools
Session Description: This presentation will discuss key definitions, provide a high-level overview of the actual R2T4 steps, and address important concepts and time frames that take place throughout the R2T4 calculation - withdrawal dates, dates of determination, and post-withdrawal disbursements. This session will also address some of the most popular R2T4 topics, including institutional charges, aid that could have been disbursed, and more!

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FS6. Foreign Schools: Update and Q&A
This session will provide an opportunity for foreign school participants to ask questions of Department policy and operations staff.

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FS7. eZ-Audit Update for Foreign Schools
Did Federal Student Aid receive my audit? Is my most recent submission overdue or incomplete? Come find out how easy eZ-Audit it is to submit your annual compliance audits and financial statements via the web and answer those questions. Learn what you will need to register, to submit your annual submissions and more. eZ-Audit makes the reporting process much easier for you and helps Federal Student Aid better serve your needs.

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FS8. New Foreign School Audit Guide
The Non-Federal Audit Team from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) will discuss issues related to audits of foreign schools. The OIG will be issuing a new Foreign School Audit Guide soon. Come learn about OIG’s timetable for releasing the new guide, its background and applicability, the planned effective date, and key changes made to the guide.

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FS9. Foreign Schools: Basics of Determining Academic Calendars (Standard, Non-Standard, and Non-Term)
This session will explain how different types of academic calendars affect the administration of federal student aid. Guidance will be provided on how to determine whether a program is structured as standard term, non-standard term, or non-term and how each calendar structure determines how academic years are defined for Direct Loans.

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Presidential Leadership Summit









FAA Boot Camp











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