Launch of the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form

 

The communication below replaces previously shared information related to the  availability of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  As previously announced, students and their families will be able to submit  the 2024-25 FAFSA form online by December 31, 2023.

The period leading up to and after December 31st will be considered a "soft launch" period.  During this period, the U.S. Department of Education will monitor and respond to any processing issues that could impact the FAFSA applicant experience.  During the "soft launch"  the department will be monitoring site performance, conducting planned maintenance, and making updates to improve the application experience as warranted.  

The U.S. Department of Education also wants to assure students and families that there is ample time to complete the 2024-25 FAFSA.  This is because FAFSA data will not transmit to schools until later in January (exact date is unknown).  

Here is what students, families, and schools can expect during the soft launch period: 
 

  • Contributors (the student, parent, student’s spouse, or parent’s spouse), including those without a Social Security number (SSN), will be able to create a StudentAid.gov account to access and complete the online FAFSA form. Contributors who already have a verified account username and password will use their existing credentials to sign in and access the form.

 
 

  • FSA will initiate planned pauses for site maintenance and to make updates as needed to create a better FAFSA experience for students and families. During these pauses, users who are already online will be able to complete their work, but other users may not be able to begin or resume work on the 2024-25 FAFSA form. Users who go on-line during a temporary pause should check back at a later time to complete the form.

 
 

  • Applicants may experience a waiting room feature, which will help control website volumes to ensure optimal performance of the form.

 
 

  • If a student completes their form during the soft launch period, their information will be stored for processing. They do NOT need to return to resubmit their application after the soft launch concludes.

 
 

  • If a student completes their FAFSA form, but a contributor cannot access the site during a period when the site is unavailable, the contributor can return to complete their portion of the form as soon as the site becomes available again. Any data entered in the form is still in the system and is secure.

 
 

  • If FSA initiates site maintenance while a student or contributor is completing an application, they will be able to continue until they have completed the form.

 
 

  • After all sections of the online FAFSA form are completed and submitted, the student will receive a confirmation email noting their submission date, their estimated Student Aid Index (SAI), and estimated Federal Pell Grant eligibility. However, the student will not receive a FAFSA Submission Summary until FSA processes the FAFSA, beginning in late January.

 

   Changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA include:

 

  • expanded eligibility for federal student aid and
  • a more streamlined application process.

 

Stay Informed

Stay informed about the changes and receive up-to-date notifications and information:

 

  • Did you fill out a FAFSA form for 2023–24? Log in to your StudentAid.gov account to confirm that your email address is current.   Once the launch date of the 2024-25 is announced, the U.S. Department of Education will send email notification to students (and parents of dependent students) if they completed a 2023-24 FAFSA form.    That is why is it important to update your email if it has changed since completing the 2023-24 FAFSA form.  
  • If you did not submit a 2023–24 FAFSA form please make sure to create your StudentAid.gov account—and remember your username and password so you can access and submit the 2024–25 FAFSA form when it is available.
  • You can also follow Federal Student Aid on social media for announcements and resources.

 

  Student Loan Repayment Pause Has Ended:

The information below is about the Federal Direct Loan Repayment Pause for former students, newly admitted students, or current students whose loans are not currently in an in-school deferment status:

As a result of the debt ceiling agreement, the current student loan repayment pause has ended as of August 2023.  The debt ceiling bill codifies the end of the repayment pause and does not allow for additional extensions of the repayment pause. 

The Biden administration is working towards a smooth transition to ensure student loan payments are reasonable and manageable.  However, we recommend that you prepare now.  Here are some tips to get started:

  • Locate your student loan servicer. The company that manages your student loans may have changed since forbearance began. Find your servicer by logging into StudentAid.gov.
  • Contact your servicer. Log in to your servicer’s website or call them. Make sure your contact information is up to date.  Ask what payment plans are available and set up auto pay. 
  • Consider an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. We suggest you complete the paperwork now if you plan to sign up for an IDR plan. 

 

 WATCH OUT FOR STUDENT LOAN DEBT RELIEF SCAMMERS:

Please read the following statement from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) regarding student loan debt relief scams:

You might be contacted by a company saying they will help you get loan discharge, forgiveness, cancellation, or debt relief for free.  You never have to pay for help with your federal student aid. Make sure you work only with ED and our loan servicers, and never reveal your personal information or account password to anyone. Our emails to borrowers come from noreply@studentaid.gov, noreply@debtrelief.studentaid.gov, or ed.gov@public.govdelivery.com. You can report scam attempts to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357 or by visiting reportfraud.ftc.gov. 

 

SAR COMMENT CODE 390 AND THE NATIONAL STUDENT LOAN DATA SYSTEM:

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is being updated by the U.S. Department of Education (ED).   As ED prepares for the launch of their enhanced website, they have temporarily paused data reporting from July 21st to July 25th.  During the outage period, Student Aid Records processed by ED will not contain NSLDS information. 

FAFSA applicants affected by the NSLDS outage will receive the following SAR Comment Code 390: 

We were unable to verify your eligibility for federal student aid with one or more other federal agencies through computer matching programs. Your school will contact you if additional information is needed.

The Office of Financial Aid will identify all students who have been given a SAR Comment Code of 390 as a result of the NSLDS outage.  Financial aid eligibility determinations, for all FAFSA filers who may have received the 390 code, will begin when NSDLS becomes available again on Monday, July 25th. 

Emergency Broadband Benefit:

As the new academic begins, many students and families are still struggling financially because of the ongoing pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program may be a resource for eligible students and their families to afford internet service during the COVID -19 pandemic.  Although the EBB program is not a federal student aid program, it is a benefit offered by another federal agency that provides a monthly discount on broadband service up to $50 per eligible household. 

As with many federal programs, students and their families will need to qualify for the EBB program to benefit from its services.  For more information about the EBB program, students can access this link:

https://www.fcc.gov/consumer-faq-emergency-broadband-benefit

   

Early Implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act’s Removal of Selective Service and Drug Conviction Requirements for Title IV Eligibility:

 

On December 27, 2020, the FAFSA Simplification Act (Act) was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The Act makes many important changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Two significant changes are listed below:

  • The requirement that male students register with the Selective Service before the age of 26 to be eligible for federal student aid under Title IV of the HEA (Title IV); and
  • Suspension of eligibility for Title IV aid for drug-related convictions that occurred while receiving Title IV aid.

2021-2022 Award Year

For the 2021-2022 award year, for which the FAFSA cycle has already begun, the Selective Service and drug conviction questions (as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA) will remain on the FAFSA. However, failing to register with the Selective Service or having a drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid will no longer impact a student’s Title IV aid eligibility.

2022-2023 Award Year

Similar to the 2021-2022 award year:

  • The Selective Service and drug conviction questions (as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA) will remain on the FAFSA.  However, failing to register with the Selective Service or having a drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid will no longer affect a student’s Title IV aid eligibility.

2023-2024 Award Year

For the 2023-2024 award year, the U. S. Department of Education plans to completely remove both the Selective Service and drug conviction questions from the FAFSA, as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA.

 

SULA REPEAL SIMPLIFIES REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS:

The Department of Education (ED) recently announced that the 150% Direct Subsidized Loan limit, or “SULA” is being repealed.  What exactly does this mean for students? Here is a brief summary:

  • For students who receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans first disbursed on July 1, 2021 or later, SULA restrictions do not apply, regardless of the award year associated with the loan.
  • For students whose interest subsidy benefits were lost due to having a remaining eligibility period of zero or less, subsidy benefits will be restored for all subsidized loans with outstanding balances on July 1, 2021. The interest subsidies will be retroactively applied for all subsidized loans issued since the 2013-2014 award year.
  • Direct loan entrance counseling will no longer be required to include information on the eligibility limitation of subsidized loans based on a borrower’s subsidized usage period.
  • Direct loan exit counseling will no longer need to include SULA information, including:
    • How a borrower’s maximum eligibility period, remaining eligibility period, and subsidized usage period are determined;
    • The sum of a borrower’s subsidized usage periods at the time of exit counseling;
    • The consequences of continued borrowing or enrollment;
    • The impact of the borrower becoming responsible for accruing interest on total student debt;
    • That the Secretary will inform the student borrower of whether he or she is responsible for accruing interest on his or her Direct Subsidized Loans; and
    • That the borrower can access the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to determine whether he or she is responsible for accruing interest on any Direct Subsidized Loans.

The repeal of SULA has many benefits for students.  As an example, students who had outstanding loan balances and had lost their interest subsidy will benefit from the retroactive restoration of their interest subsidy, and future students will no longer need to make decisions based on the potential loss of their interest subsidy.

FSA Notifies Eligible Students About Expanded SNAP:

The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) sent an email to 2020-21 FAFSA filers with an expected family contribution (EFC) of zero in early April to alert them of expanded eligibility rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The communication was required by law as part of the expanded SNAP eligibility requirements and detailed the parameters of the program to students and how they can apply.

Recipients were informed that the email could be used as documentation of having a zero EFC and were directed to their local SNAP office to apply for the program under the expanded eligibility.

Restrictions regarding who was eligible for the SNAP program were loosened as part of the last round of federal coronavirus relief aid allowing college students to more easily access the program by temporarily removing work and eligibility requirements for students, which will be in place for the duration of the public health emergency. 

 

Verification of FAFSA Data and Inceptia:

Charter Oak has partnered with Inceptia to expedite the verification process for students and their families.  If your FAFSA application is selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, you will use Inceptia’s verification online portal to complete the review of your FAFSA data. 

The process of verification will begin with an introductory email from Inceptia.  It will be sent to the email address that you listed on your FAFSA application. If you did not provide an email, you will receive a postcard instead.  The postcard will be sent to the address you listed on your FAFSA application.  Regardless of how you receive the introductory communication from Inceptia, please note that it is legitimate.

To begin the verification process, you will follow the custom school link which will be included in the introductory communication and to access Inceptia’s Verification Gateway.   You will need to create a student account to begin the process and will do the following:

    • Confirm your identity (authentication).
    • Create a secure user name and password.
    • Decide if you want to receive text messages and approve to e-sign.
    • Access your Action List and begin the verification process (the list may consist of some combination of online forms and the request to upload specific documents to the Verification Gateway).

*Please note that dependent students who provide parental information on the FAFSA application are required to have one parent authenticate and create an account. This parent will be required to e-sign or provide an ink signature once all documentation has been submitted via the verification gateway.

Inceptia will begin the verification process once all documents required for verification are received.  Most students can expect the review of their FAFSA data to take seven days.  The process may take longer for students who need to submit additional paperwork, clarify information, or whose FAFSA data has to be corrected.  Therefore, it is very important for students to begin the verification process as quickly as possible after receiving the introductory email from Inceptia which will be sent from vgcsinceptia.org.

Since verification of student data will no longer be processed in-house by the Office of Financial Aid, all paperwork must be submitted directly to Inceptia.  Students with questions about the verification process are encouraged to contact Inceptia, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 (CST), at 888-374-847 or by email at vgcs@inceptia.org.

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS ORDERING TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPTS

Moving to better protect taxpayer data, the Internal Revenue Service has implemented a new format for tax return transcripts that will redact personally identifiable information (PII).  Identifying information, including names, addresses, AND SSN's, will now be partially redacted from the tax return transcript, but all money amounts will be visible. 

The new transcript, with redacted PII, went into effect on September 23, 2018.

Based on the limited information that will now be displayed on the tax return transcript, students are required to reference their name and student id on their tax return transcript before sending it to the Office of Financial Aid.  This is the only way that our office will be able to match the tax transcript to the student’s financial aid record. 

Students who do not want their financial aid delayed are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer their tax data onto their FAFSA application.  Students who cannot use the IRS DRT, or choose not to use the IRS DRT, will be responsible for providing their full name and student id on all transcripts (student/spouse/parent) submitted to the Office of Financial Aid. 

 

PHISHING EMAIL SCAM ALERT:

Please note that Charter Oak State College will never use email and request that you reply with your student password, full Social Security number, or other confidential personal information.  If you receive an email that you believe is suspicious, please do not respond to the email or click on any links or attachments.   We recommend that you report it to our help desk by following this link: 

https://charteroak.edusupportcenter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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