By Rick Cox
The Title IV eligibility process shifts this year to Partner Connect, FSA’s new portal for financial aid administrators at postsecondary institutions. Colleges will find an improved Title IV application on Partner Connect, as well as processes for maintaining eligibility, audit submission, appeals, cybersecurity and closures.
FSA’s Knowledge Center, training resources and financial aid services have also migrated to Partner Connect at fsapartners.ed.gov, a digital front door to access all information necessary for the management of Title IV administration by colleges or partners. Partners are defined as schools, third-party services, state agencies, accrediting agencies, third-party software providers and financial partners (guaranty agencies/servicers, federal and FFEL lenders/loan services and private collection agencies).
Partner Connect will incorporate these aspects of aid administration in 2023:
- The way colleges report a cybersecurity breach will change, with institutions using a new intake form available on Partner Connect.
- Next year, the FSA Training Conference site will be redesigned, and it will be integrated into Partner Connect.
- The Department of Education is recruiting new members for its Partner Experience Counsel. This counsel consists of volunteers who share experience and knowledge through surveys, interviews, usability sessions and focus groups. These members have provided valuable feedback about new features of Partner Connect. The presentation has a link (or QR code) that can be accessed to submit your interest in joining the Partner Experience Counsel.
The following features are currently available on FSA Partner Connect:
- Knowledge Center
- FSA Handbook
- Partner Dashboard
- Partner Profile
- Student, Parent, Borrower Accounts
- StudentAid.gov Student View
Coming in 2023 are the following enhancements or features:
- Improved Pre-Eligibility Application.
- Improved Eligibility Application (E-App). Currently, E-App is located at eligcert.ed.gov but will be moving with improved features (including smart logic, the ability to upload documents, pre-population with the latest approved information and digital signatures).
- New School Closure Form. If your campus has to close, you will be able to immediately update the Department of Education.
- New Third-Party Servicer Inquiry Form. This will allow third-party servicers to update third-party information online instead of emailing a paper form.
- Improved Help Center.
Partner Dashboard will allow financial aid administrators to easily manage notifications, such as Red Notifications (action required) and Blue Notifications (informational). There is a Help Center available to assist your financial aid team.
In year one of use in 2022 for Partner Connect, FSA migrated functions, introduced and improved features, and noted an increase in user satisfaction for the ease of searching the Knowledge Center since the conversion from IFAP.
Rick Cox is Global’s Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance