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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.
StudentAid.gov Features to Help Make Students' Aid Clearer and Loan Repayment More Straightforward
Over the past few months, we have launched new features on StudentAid.gov:
- Aid Summary—Our new Aid Summary feature shows customers' details for each loan and grant they've received. Instead of having to log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®), customers can view all their information through StudentAid.gov. They can monitor repayment progress, receive alerts about their account, and keep track of their remaining eligibility for Direct Loans and Pell Grants. For customers seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness, they're able to track the number of qualifying payments they've made.
- Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement (improved in June 2020)—If customers are taking out federal student loans for the first time, the new Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement tool can help them understand fundamental loan concepts, such as interest accrual and capitalization. For new borrowers, the tool will give them a sense of what their loan balance, monthly payment, and expected salary could be based on the school they plan to attend and the program in which they will be enrolled. If customers have existing loans, the tool outlines how much they owe and how much more they can borrow.
- Feedback Center (improved in April 2020)—Formerly the Feedback System, the new Feedback Center provides customers with an improved way to submit a complaint, report an issue, provide positive feedback, and manage their cases. The Feedback Center can be accessed directly at StudentAid.gov/feedback.
- Loan Simulator (additional functionality in June 2020)—Loan Simulator, which launched in February 2020 and replaced the Repayment Estimator, helps customers identify repayment options that work best for their circumstances.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) (employer search added in June 2020)—We're rolling out several improvements to the PSLF Help Tool over the next year.
- AidanSM Virtual Assistant (access expanded in April 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.
- Make a Payment pilot—This pilot allows customers whose Direct Loans are in repayment and assigned to Great Lakes or Nelnet to make a standard monthly payment on StudentAid.gov. Customers with other servicers will be directed to the servicer's website to make payments.
If customers have received grants, they will see how much they have received and how much eligibility they have left.
As of June 28, 2020, we updated visuals and content to provide customers with an improved experience when completing the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment.
Note: The Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment will not be required in order for borrowers to receive a disbursement until the 2021–22 award year.
Customers can view the status of their cases, upload new documentation, and add messages that will be reviewed by a customer service representative. When a case is closed, they will be able to complete a survey about their experience so that we can continuously improve our responsiveness and the customer experience.
The tool offers recommendations for repayment plans based on the customers' needs and goals. The simulator also informs customers of how they would be impacted by other scenarios such as making extra payments, suspending payments, or consolidating loans.
As of June 28, 2020, Loan Simulator is now able to provide repayment plan recommendations if customers have a more complex loan portfolio.
The enhanced tool can perform repayment plan calculations if customers have loans across multiple programs and don't wish to consolidate—for instance, if they have both Direct and Perkins loans. This functionality will help them understand their full range of options.
They'll now receive more refined recommendations, including multiple repayment plans suited to their loan types and financial situation.
Coming later this year: Loan Simulator will be able to simulate the impact of taking out more federal loans on their repayment journey.
As of June 28, 2020, we delivered the first enhancement by providing customers with information about employer eligibility in real time through an employer database. The employer database will help customers identify if their employer is eligible, ineligible, or likely ineligible for PSLF.
The employer database is accessible through a new employer search feature on the PSLF Help Tool where customers can use their employer's Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN) and their dates of employment to search for specific eligibility information.
After customers find their employer in the database, they will immediately receive a notification of the employer's eligibility status for the PSLF program.
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.
June 29, 2020