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Frequently Asked Questions

Session Descriptions

**Subject to change. Please refer to the agenda for days and times.

Click here for an easily printable Word doc of all sessions.

General Sessions



Conference Opening and Welcome


Application Processing System Update
This session will provide information about mid-year changes to the 2010-2011 FAFSA on the Web application as well as major changes to the 2011-2012 Application Processing System, including the FAFSA, the IRS data retrieval process, and FAA Access to CPS Online.


Federal Update
During this session, the panel will present up-to-date information on a number of Department of Education activities and initiatives. This will include information on the recently published Notices of Proposed Rulemaking as well as a general report on the transition to 100% Direct Lending.


Town Hall
The Town Hall offers conference attendees an opportunity to ask questions of senior staff on issues related to the federal student aid programs.





Breakout Sessions



So, This is Your First Federal Student Aid Conference?

Target Audience: Attendees new to the FSA conference. [Offered once, Day 1 only]

Session Description: New to the FSA conferences? This session will help you navigate through the four-day agenda and determine what sessions will best meet your needs. We will explain who attends the conference and, what services are available, as well as answer any conference-related questions you have.





1. Basic Direct Loan Processing in the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System for FAAs

Target Audience: FAAs unfamiliar with the COD system and Direct Loan processing. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will focus on how COD handles basic Direct Loan processing related to origination records, credit checks, promissory notes, disbursements, funding, reconciliation, and reports.





2. Advanced Direct Loan Processing in the Common Origination and Disbursement System for FAAs

Target Audience: FAAs familiar with the COD system and Direct Loan processing. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will focus on an in-depth review of the COD tools available to help you manage such Direct Loan processes as origination records, credit checks, promissory notes, disbursement, funding, reconciliation, and reports.





3. The Essentials of Federal Student Loan Servicing

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: Direct Loans has many tools to assist borrowers with staying on the right road of repayment. Come and learn from each of our loan servicers as they focus on the fundamentals to assist you and your students on achieving this goal.





4. Direct Loan Life Cycle

Target Audience: FAAs new to the COD system. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will provide an overview of the functions, features, and screens of the COD Web site and explain how these are used to process, manage, and administer Direct Loans. In addition, the session will cover other electronic Direct Loan processes and systems, including the Direct Loan Electronic Master Promissory Note (eMPN) Web site, Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG), Direct Loan Servicing System (DLSS), and G5.





5. Schools' Best Practices in Default and Delinquency Management

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: Loan default, and the risk of loan default, is increasing for borrowers and schools. ED’s default prevention staff will describe the conditions which are giving rise to increasing default risk and suggest strategies that schools can adopt to prevent loan default. A school panel will describe their default prevention practices, and suggest ways that schools can work collaboratively to both reduce institutional cohort default rates and to keep at risk students from defaulting on loans.





6. What's New in the Common Origination and Disbursement System for Direct Loans in 2011-12 and Beyond?

Target Audience: FAAs currently processing Direct Loans using the COD system. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will focus on upcoming system changes specific to Direct Loans for 2011-12 and beyond. This session will also cover operational changes and enhancements, such as process improvements.





7. Direct Loan Funding & Cash Management

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will focus on Direct Loan funding and cash management as it relates to your institution. It will cover the processes or procedures you should have in place to manage your Direct Loan funds as well as the practical aspects of managing Direct Loan funds, including the Direct Loan funding process in the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) system. Learn how to gain access to and use G5 to request, return, and substantiate funds. During the session, we will also discuss some of the web screens, tools, and resources that are available to assist you in managing Direct Loan funds effectively.





8. Direct Loan Reconciliation and Program Year Closeout

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 4 times]

Session Description: This session will explore the monthly Direct Loan reconciliation process and end of year Program Year Closeout activities for schools. During this session, we will highlight various reports, tools, and resources available to assist schools in reconciling and closing out in a timely manner.





9. NSLDS Update

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will provide information on NSLDS changes and enhancements for the current and upcoming 2011-2012 award year. Annual security training and access reminders as well as future enhancements to system access and security will be covered. You will learn more about recent new reports, updates to existing reports and scheduling certain reports to be automatically delivered for your organization. The session will also provide an overview for enrollment reporting enhancements designed to assist with centralized reporting across multiple campuses and exit counseling features currently in use by students and Financial Aid professionals. Additionally, you'll find out about our new Department of Education data providers and efforts to improve the quality and frequency of data reported into NSLDS.





10. Loan Repayment and Forgiveness Plans

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will focus on repayment plans for Direct Loan and FFEL borrowers, including the Income-Based Repayment plan, and loan discharge and forgiveness programs, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, as well as the recent changes to these programs resulting from the SAFRA Act.





11. Using EDExpress for New FAAs

Target Audience: FAAs just beginning to use EDExpress. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will provide an overview of all EDExpress modules; so new users can become more familiar with the robust EDExpress functionality. This session includes information on Global, Application Processing, Packaging, Direct Loans, Pell Grants, and TEACH Grants.





12. Using EDExpress for Experienced FAAs

Target Audience: Current users of EDExpress. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will provide a look at additional tools within EDExpress, including how to set up complex queries, multiple entry and other shortcuts. Please be prepared to describe the imaginative ways you use EDExpress on your campus! Also, this is the session where we collect ideas from you on how to improve EDExpress!





13. EDEsuite Hands-On (EDExpress, DL Tools, SSCR)

Target Audience: Users new to EDEsuite products, and experienced users looking to expand their expertise. [Offered 4 times]

Session Description: No matter if you are new to EDEsuite or have used it for years, here is a chance to get hands-on experience working through a series of exercises designed to help you gain confidence processing grants and loans. Exercises are broken down into tracks: Beginner, Experienced, Queries, Packaging, Pell, TEACH, Direct Loan, Reconciliation using DL Tools, Grids (and exporting to Excel). Attendees are invited to visit more than once to complete as many tracks of exercises as they want. Staff will be available to assist you with the exercises and answer any questions you have as you move along at your own pace. A great way to learn EDExpress!





14. Processing Direct Loans with the Common Origination and Disbursement System Web site - Hands-On

Target Audience: Schools new to Direct Loan processing. [Offered 4 times]

Session Description: This is an in-depth session in which participants that may or may not currently use COD for other Title IV programs can become familiar with using the COD Web site for the Direct Loan Program. You will learn about the tools available to resolve processing issues, search for and view electronic master promissory notes (eMPN), and more. Bring your active COD User ID and Logon.





15. Using the Electronic Cohort Default Rate Appeals (eCDR Appeals) System for Appealing and Challenging Cohort Default Rates – Hands-On

Target Audience: Schools who are considering using eCDR Appeals to adjust/appeal/challenge their cohort default rates. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: Beginning in 2012 with the release of the FY 2009 and FY 2010 cohorts, CDRs will be calculated twice - using a two–year cohort period and also a three-year cohort period. Did you know beginning in February 2011 schools must use the eCDR Appeals System to submit certain challenges and adjustment requests? Attend this session to walk through the process of challenging your CDRs. Staff will be available to assist you with walking through the screens and steps needed to process your challenge to your cohort default rates, in addition to answering your questions as you work through the process.





16. Using Direct Loan Tools to Reconcile your Direct Loan Data with the Common Origination and Disbursement System

Target Audience: FAAs tasked with reconciling Direct Loans. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will provide an overview of how the Direct Loan Tools software application works with your own mainframe or middle-range application, or hand-in-hand with EDExpress, to ensure that your Direct Loan records reconcile with the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) system. With a few simple keystrokes you can compare the monthly School Account Statement (SAS) file you receive from the COD system with your own loan database to identify discrepancies that need to be addressed.





17. Direct Loan Report Functionality in the Common Origination and Disbursement System

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will focus on the Direct Loan reports and explain how these reports can assist schools in the management and administration of Direct Loans. During this session, we will cover how schools receive or retrieve the reports, as well as how they can be used to improve Direct Loan processing, reduce errors, resolve issues, and simplify reconciliation and closeout.





18. Cohort Default Rates

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will provide an overview of the cohort default rate calculations, including the statutory change that, beginning with the 2009 cohort will monitor borrowers for three years instead of two years. This session will also provide information on the past default experiences of the FFEL and Direct Loan Programs.





19. Entrance and Exit Counseling

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will focus on Direct Loan Entrance Counseling available on StudentLoans.gov and Exit Counseling available on NSLDS.ed.gov, which can be used for FFEL and Direct Loan programs, including operational changes and enhancements. Reports and information on accessing data for schools will also be included.





20. Common Origination and Disbursement System Grant Operations & Funding – Pell, ACG, National SMART, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG) Programs

Target Audience: Schools participating in grant programs (except TEACH). [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will cover the COD system operational and funding aspects of Grant Programs -- Pell, ACG, National SMART, and IASG (not TEACH). This session will focus on what is ahead operationally in 2011-12 COD for these grant programs as well as the grants funding functionality in COD & G5, basic cash management rules, drawdown substantiation and reconciliation, and how to request and return funds electronically via G5.





21. How to use the FSA Assessments

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will assist schools in creating and revising written documentation of how they comply with the various federal regulations pertaining to the administration of the Title IV programs. We will showcase the FSA Assessment on Policies and Procedures along with the Guide to Developing a Policy and Procedures Manual.





22. Need Analysis: The EFC Formula Beyond 2010-11

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: This session will cover recent and proposed changes to the federal need analysis formula. Topics will include proposals to simplify the financial aid application process by reducing the number of data items used in the calculation of a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and recent changes to the criteria for determining a student's dependency status.





23. Reporting Student Financial Aid Data to IPEDS

Target Audience: All those who assist their institutional research office in completing the financial aid portions of the IPEDS survey. [Offered 4 times]

Session Description: Do you assist your institutional research office in completing the student financial aid (SFA) component of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey? This session will provide an overview of major concepts and instructions for reporting student financial aid data to IPEDS, including tips and resources for working with your institutional research office to meet the IPEDS reporting requirements.





24. The New Institutional Net Price Calculator Requirement in HEOA

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 4 times]

Session Description: One of the new disclosure requirements in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) is for all postsecondary institutions to post a net price calculator on their Web sites by October 2011. Institutions can either use a template developed by the U.S. Department of Education that calculates net price from data supplied by the institution, or they can develop their own calculator. This session explains the new requirement, describes the Department’s calculator template, discusses pros and cons of developing a customized calculator, and allows time for discussion among participants about planning ahead for this requirement.





25. General Provisions and Non-Loan Program Issues - Institutional (Does not include Pell Grants)

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will provide a detailed overview of the institutional issues affected by the recently published Program Integrity Regulations, which are effective on July 1, 2011. These issues include state authorization, definition of a credit hour, return of Title IV (R2T4), agreements, and more.





26. General Provision and Non-Loan Program Issues – Student

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will be most important for all those working directly with students and their continued eligibility for student aid. This session will address issues affected by the recently published Program Integrity Regulations, which are effective July 1, 2011 that have a significant impact on students and will include ability to benefit, satisfactory academic progress, verification, and what constitutes an acceptable high school diploma.





27. Cancelled





28. Cancelled. Combined with Session 29.





29. Two Pells in One Award Year with Q&A

Target Audience: All schools participating in the Federal Pell Grant Program. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session, beginning at 1:15 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, will provide a discussion of the provisions requiring a student to receive more than one scheduled award in an award year. It includes a discussion of the statutory and regulatory requirements with emphasis on crossover payment periods and student eligibility for a second scheduled award in an award year. There will be time for questions and answers.





30. Use of Professional Judgment to Address Families Impacted by the Economy

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will cover the use of professional judgment with an emphasis on assisting families who have been impacted by the economy. Topics will include data element adjustments in the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation, adjustments to the cost of attendance, and dependency overrides.





31. Cancelled.





32. Student Loan Consumerism

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will include a discussion of the new statutory and regulatory school consumerism requirements related to the student loan programs, both federal and private, including a discussion of the role the institution plays in complying with the Truth-in-Lending Act, private loan disclosures and in the completion of the private loan self-certification form.





33. Cancelled





34. Veterans and Active Military

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: This session will provide information on both Department of Education and Department of Veteran Affairs programs available to assist military and their families in their pursuit of postsecondary education. Representatives from ED and VA will discuss the programs and what the agencies are doing to assist in making important information more readily available.





35. Department of Labor One-Stop Shop

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: This session will provide information about the Department of Labor’s “One-Stop Centers” and the services they provide to students and families. It will also discuss information on financial aid and potential earnings disseminated through a series of national electronic tools. The session will also provide information about programs available from the agency, how they interact with the counseling efforts of financial aid administrators and what contacts and resources are available to aid administrators from the agency.





36. Cancelled





37. Community Colleges

Target Audience: Community Colleges. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: This session will provide an update of the activities of the Department of Education and its work to support the President's goal to increase the number of Americans with certificates, degrees and credentials. It will also cover how the Department of Education has worked with the Department of Labor in moving forward on the funding for community colleges provided in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act and what initiatives may be coming to help community colleges accomplish the Administration's goals.





38. Top Ten Audit and Program Review Findings

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will give an overview of FSA’s 2010 list of the Top Ten audits and program review findings, and how to avoid them at your institution.





39. Partnering for Compliance and Consumer Protection

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will provide an overview of how FSA's Program Compliance office is partnering with various agencies (states, accrediting agencies, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Trade Commission) to share information to strengthen oversight and consumer protection. Come learn how this affects you.





40. Schools Planning to Add a Program or Location

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will cover everything you need to know about adding a program, a location or other eligibility updates, but didn’t think to ask! Be proactive and get the facts here!





41. Cancelled.





42. Foreign Schools Cash Management

Target Audience: Foreign schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: Foreign schools will learn the necessary rules for requesting, disbursing, and accounting for Direct Loan funds.





43. Foreign Schools – Reconciliation & COD Case Studies

Target Audience: Foreign schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: Reconciliation of Direct Loan funds using the School Account Statement (SAS) and the various COD reports and screens to assist with the process.





44. Foreign Schools Final Regulations and Program Compliance

Target Audience: Foreign schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: This session will provide a detailed overview of the recently published Final Regulations affecting foreign schools and the requirements with which foreign schools must comply to continue participation in Federal Student Aid’s Direct Loan Program. Topics will include audit requirements and the most common audit and review findings.





45. Cancelled. Combined with Session 44.





46. Cancelled.





47. Foreign Schools Open Forum

Target Audience: Foreign schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: This will be an open forum with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, FSA Policy, and the Foreign Schools Team for foreign schools to ask questions about the new regulations and any other regulatory questions.





48. Simplification: Behind the Scenes

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: This session will expand on the topics discussed in the Application Processing System general session. Specifically, this session discusses the customer experience on FAFSA on the Web, including the redesigned homepage, FAFSA Corrections, the IRS Data Retrieval tool, and enhanced skip logic for he 2011-12 FAFSA.





49. Tools and Resources for Outreach to Potential Students

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: Learn about the wide variety of resources available to enhance your efforts to inform prospective students and their families about financial aid. Take advantage of free Federal Student Aid information and publications, explore important websites, get involved in a national counselor training initiative, learn about online media resources such as Facebook, and more.





50. Don't be Tomorrow's Headlines ... Effective Measures for Protecting PII Data

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: This session will consist of a panel discussion of threats and vulnerabilities that schools face in light of recent compromises and incidents. We will explore countermeasures that school system developers, administrators, and security professionals can take as well as highlight both technical solutions and common-sense actions to help protect sensitive privacy data.





51. Why Can't We Be Friends: Students and Social Media

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: Do you want to better serve your students? This session will address the rapid explosion of social media and the dramatic change in how we communicate and consume information. Nearly 80% of 18-24 year olds participate in social media. Learn from both a student and school perspective which social media tools are most widely used and why the use of these tools is critical for maintaining a connection to our consumers.





52. Social Media: Manage the Security to Manage Your Experience

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: This session will explore the top social networking security challenges. Social networking is a powerful tool that is rapidly gaining acceptance as the next revolution in digital communication. As with all good intentions, there’s always room to exploit weaknesses. Social Media have been the target for many in obtaining personal information and to achieve unscrupulous financial gain. Attacks on social networks as a result of all this attention is up by more than 240% just from phishing attacks alone. By its nature, social media provides a new set of security risks that must be addressed in the light of supporting and enhancing our student's and school’s experience, while at the same time protecting personal data.





53. Update on the Higher Education Regulations Study

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: The HEOA charged the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ACSFA) with conducting a review and analysis to determine whether regulations affecting higher education are overly burdensome, duplicative, no longer necessary, or in conflict with other regulations, and to suggest ways in which these regulations could be streamlined, improved, or eliminated. ACSFA staff members will present a summary of the regulations identified thus far, progress made on the study, and plans for the final report. ACSFA seeks continued feedback and additional comments from the community for this study.





54. Changes To Verification Bring New Opportunities – The Quality Assurance Program Redefined

Targeted Audience: All schools. [Offered 2 times]

Session Description: Federal verification of FAFSA information is changing. FSA invites schools to learn more about the redesigned Quality Assurance (QA) Program that will assist FSA in evaluating its verification selection and targeting processes. Imagine selecting who and what you want to verify at an institutional level using institutional specific data and techniques, determining acceptable documentation and receiving an institution-specific dashboard that provides results of your verification efforts. The QA Program also emphasizes compliance and provides you the tools to maximize the administration of Title IV aid delivery. Learn more about the QA Program and determine if your participation can help you manage verification and maintain compliance.





55. Rules of Direct Loan Processing

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 3 times]

Session Description: This session will discuss the rules and operating procedures for making adjustments to a student’s Direct Loan award. These adjustments include, in addition to simple increases or decreases in the loan amount, adjustments related to a student's change of grade level or dependency status in the middle of the loan period, requests for reallocation of loan amounts between subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and late disbursements.





56. Federal Loan Servicer Information Session – ACS

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: Representatives from each of the Department’s federal loan servicers will hold a servicer specific information session for schools. This is an opportunity for schools to get to know the servicers and to ask questions about servicer related tools, processes, and school concerns.





57. Federal Loan Servicer Information Session – FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA)

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: Representatives from each of the Department’s federal loan servicers will hold a servicer specific information session for schools. This is an opportunity for schools to get to know the servicers and to ask questions about servicer related tools, processes, and school concerns.





58. Federal Loan Servicer Information Session - Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: Representatives from each of the Department's federal loan servicers will hold a servicer specific information session for schools. This is an opportunity for schools to get to know the servicers and to ask questions about servicer related tools, processes, and school concerns.





59. Federal Loan Servicer Information Session – Nelnet

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: Representatives from each of the Department's federal loan servicers will hold a servicer specific information session for schools. This is an opportunity for schools to get to know the servicers and to ask questions about servicer related tools, processes, and school concerns.





60. Federal Loan Servicer Information Session - Sallie Mae

Target Audience: All schools. [Offered 1 time]

Session Description: Representatives from each of the Department's federal loan servicers will hold a servicer specific information session for schools. This is an opportunity for schools to get to know the servicers and to ask questions about servicer related tools, processes, and school concerns.





Birds of a Feather Sessions



BOF 1 - Graduate Institutions

Session Description: This session is for Medical/Dental/Graduate/Professional level institutions that are new to the Direct Loan Program. The purpose of the session is to discuss common Direct Loan processing issues, to share experiences and best practices, and to give schools a chance to network with their colleagues.





BOF 2 - Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Session Description: This session will provide an opportunity for HBCUs to meet collectively with Federal Student Aid's Special Initiative Services staff. Information will be shared regarding current and proposed FSA legislative and policy issues, and those impacts upon the institutions and the students they serve. Institutions will have an opportunity to provide feedback regarding current FSA/SIS training initiatives, as well as providing suggestions and recommendations for future activities.





BOF 3 - Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Session Description: This session will provide an opportunity for Hispanic-Serving Institutions to meet collectively with Federal Student Aid's Special Initiative Services staff. Information will be shared regarding current and proposed FSA legislative and policy issues, and those impacts upon the institutions and the students they serve. Institutions will have an opportunity to provide feedback regarding current FSA/SIS training initiatives, as well as providing suggestions and recommendations for future activities.





BOF 4 - Tribally-Controlled Colleges and Universities

Session Description: This session will provide an opportunity for Tribally-Controlled Colleges and Universities to meet collectively with Federal Student Aid's Special Initiative Services staff. Information will be shared regarding current and proposed FSA legislative and policy issues, and those impacts upon the institutions and the students they serve. Institutions will have an opportunity to provide feedback regarding current FSA/SIS training initiatives, as well as providing suggestions and recommendations for future activities.





BOF 5 - Security and Privacy Issues

Session Description: This session will be geared towards school administrators and technical staff, software developers and others who want a better understanding of the responsibilities and challenges related to student Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and security. In this facilitated open session, participants will have an opportunity to discuss these topics with one another.










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