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Next Gen FSA: Improvements to the Student, Parent, and Borrower Experience
Latest Next Gen FSA News
In December 2017, we announced the Next Gen Federal Student Aid (Next Gen FSA) initiative, which takes big steps toward improving the way students, parent, and borrowers interact with and access the benefits of the programs administered by Federal Student Aid.
In late December 2019, the first big launch of Next Gen FSA implementation kicked off with the consolidation of multiple websites into a single, digital front door: StudentAid.gov. As a result, students, parents, and borrowers can access all the information and tools they previously used, but through an improved interface.
In the video "The Digital Future of Federal Student Aid," we describe what students and borrowers can expect from Next Gen FSA in the future.
We've Made Improvements to Help Customers Manage Their Loans and Grants
We've made a lot of progress in 2020—and we are looking forward to going even further in 2021. Our goal is to make the StudentAid.gov experience more intuitive and provide customers with a variety of tools to help them manage their student aid journey.
To that end, we are excited to announce three major enhancements to StudentAid.gov and our programs. These include a new module of Loan Simulator that allows them to estimate what their monthly payments would be if they borrowed more federal loans and a revamped Borrower Defense to Repayment Application and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Help Tool. With the improved PSLF Help Tool, we've also introduced a single PSLF form, which they can use to certify their employment or apply for forgiveness.
StudentAid.gov Features to Help Make Customers' Aid Clearer and Loan Repayment More Straightforward
Over the past few months, we have launched new features on StudentAid.gov:
- Loan Simulator (additional functionality in November 2020)—Loan Simulator helps customers identify repayment options that work best for their circumstances and goals.
- Borrower Defense to Repayment Application—The Borrower Defense to Repayment Application is now available as a new, integrated feature on StudentAid.gov. The smart form will help customers submit a borrower defense application based on when and where they were enrolled in school. It will also inform them of what circumstances can lead to a borrower defense discharge and the impact of an application on their loan repayment journey.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Help Tool with Employer Search and New, Combined PSLF Form—In June 2020, we delivered the first enhancement to the PSLF Help Tool by providing customers with information about employer eligibility in real time through an employer database. The employer database helps them determine if their employer is eligible, ineligible, or likely ineligible for PSLF.
- AidanSM Virtual Assistant (access expanded in November 2020)—The option to interact with Aidan is expanding to more users to answer questions about federal student aid. Aidan uses advanced technology—artificial intelligence and natural language processing—to answer site visitors' most common questions. Whether they want to find out their current loan account balance, learn more about grants, make a payment, or get help contacting their loan servicer, Aidan is here to help customers find an answer. We will continue to expand access to Aidan as the tool learns how to best answer customers' questions.
The simulator also informs them of how they would be impacted by other scenarios such as making extra payments, suspending payments, consolidating their loans, or borrowing more.
They'll receive refined recommendations, including multiple repayment plans suited to their loan types and financial situation.
On Nov. 8, 2020, we added an option to simulate borrowing more and the impact of taking out more federal loans to achieve their education goals.
They can determine how taking out more federal student loans will affect their monthly payment. The tool helps them estimate how much more they can borrow based on their program's cost of attendance, their projected salary, and borrowing estimates pertaining to their school.
The online application provides a more user-friendly and interactive experience that will support them in providing the necessary and correct information to complete a borrower defense application.
Once they submit a borrower defense application, they can view its status in the Status Center, which can be accessed via their dashboard when they log in on StudentAid.gov.
They can use their employer's Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN) and their dates of employment to search for specific eligibility information. The employer database currently has more than 1.5 million employers in it, and more employers are added on a regular basis.
On Nov. 8, 2020, the PSLF Help Tool was updated and includes a personalized review of how many qualifying PSLF payments the customers have made. The tool also informs them of any steps they may need to take for loans that are not in good standing for PSLF; for example, the tool will tell them if they need to change a repayment plan or consolidate their federal student loans.
New, combined PSLF form: On Nov. 8, we also launched the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application (PSLF form). Going forward, this will be the only form that they need to use for the PSLF program, whether they are regularly certifying employment or applying for forgiveness under PSLF or TEPSLF. The PSLF form will be used to evaluate their eligibility for both programs and employment certification, and they will receive qualifying payment counts for PSLF and TEPSLF each time they submit the form.
Federal Student Aid Website URL Redirect List
As part of the Next Gen initiative, the StudentLoans.gov and former StudentAid.ed.gov web pages are now being redirected to the new pages on StudentAid.gov so as not to disrupt the student, parent, and borrower experience. View a comprehensive list of all the old and new links. This list will be updated on an ongoing basis as other Federal Student Aid website content and functionality are consolidated into StudentAid.gov.
All former URLs will be redirected to the new location except outdated ones. It is strongly recommended that webmasters and content owners of external websites linking to FSA websites update the URLs so their websites will not be adversely affected for the future updates and upgrades.
Resources for Reference and Outreach
You may find the resources below useful as you prepare to help students, parents, and borrowers with the new site.
- Next Gen StudentAid.gov Walkthrough and Coming Attractions: FSA Conference Session video—In early December 2019, FSA provided 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. FSA described specific features to highlight the improved experience for our students and borrowers. View the session's PowerPoint slides.
- Next Gen FSA Sample Tweet—Sample tweet with video describing what students and borrowers can expect from Next Gen FSA in this newest release and in coming months. Retweet to share information with the students, borrowers, and parents who follow you.
- Next Gen FSA Sample Facebook Post—Sample Facebook post with video describing what students and borrowers can expect from Next Gen FSA in this newest release and in coming months. Share with students, borrowers, and parents.
November 16, 2020