15 Feb Proactive Preparation for 2012
By Joe Jovell, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.
Prepare Now for a Headache-Free 2012-2013
Being proactive about preparation now can help your entire academic year go smoothly. There are a number of areas to keep in mind as you prepare, and by following them, you can ensure you are maintaining compliance and staying informed, that your office is taking consistent action, and that you are helping your students while protecting their privacy.
Policies and Procedures
Stay in compliance and avoid institutional liability by reviewing your Policies & Procedures. Make updates to satisfactory academic progress, verification (which has been completely overhauled for 2012-13), FAFSA, professional judgment, and any other areas that need it. Having a P&P manual not only helps you be prepared in the event of an audit, it gives everyone in your office step-by-step instructions, so that their actions can be consistent.
To make sure you’re protecting the privacy of student records and reducing the risk of fraud and identity theft, review FERPA policies at least once a year, incorporating any changes that are needed. Take note that the U.S. Department of Education is expected to release final rules in the coming months. Think about creating a policy review committee containing members from various departments on campus.
Make sure your IT networks, financial aid budget, and student aid forms are ready for the latest FAFSA updates by reviewing the ISIR guide for changes. And, when it’s available, explore the FAFSA test website at fafsademo.test.ed, to experience the FAFSA from a student’s point of view. The User ID is eddemo and the password is fafsa test.
Cost of Attendance
A great way to help your students avoid over-borrowing and/or being underfunded is to make sure your school’s cost of attendance is a realistic representation of expenses. You can research costs through student surveys (for items such as transportation, clothing, etc.), the Bureau of Labor statistics, realty websites for apartment rental costs, and by interviewing the student housing office. Then, make changes to your cost of attendance as needed.
Consumer Information Requirements
It’s important that students and families have the information they need to make an educated decision about the upcoming year. Create a central repository to allow students to access the appropriate department for each section. For example, provide students with information on new procedures for verification, satisfactory academic progress, R2T4, where to locate their aggregate loan balance, and more.
You are not alone! There are resources to help you as you prepare, including:
- NASFAA tools at nasfaa.org
- Guarantor and servicer web sites
- State, regional, and national association conferences and training opportunities
By being proactive in your preparation, you can do everything it takes to maintain compliance, stay informed, and make sure you are ready to help your students, while protecting their privacy.