From the U.S. Dept. of Education:
Today, Federal Student Aid posted a series of updates to its FSA Data Center, the centralized online source for Federal Student Aid data. In addition to posting updates to the quarterly application, disbursement, and portfolio reports, Federal Student Aid released a preliminary report regarding the complaints, positive feedback cases, and allegations of suspicious activity received through its FSA Feedback System and added three new reports related to the federally managed portfolio and one new report about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) Program.
The FSA Feedback System, officially launched on July 1, 2016, offers students and borrowers a single, consolidated place to file complaints and provide feedback about their federal student aid experience from application through repayment. A requirement of the Student Aid Bill of Rights, the FSA Feedback System was designed to allow Federal Student Aid to more quickly respond to customer concerns and issues while strengthening its efforts to protect the integrity of the federal student financial aid programs. The preliminary FSA Feedback System report provides insight into the more than 4,800 cases submitted by customers through September 30, 2016. More than three-quarters of the cases received were identified by customers as complaints, while 21 percent were allegations of suspicious activity, and just 3 percent were positive feedback.
In the short time since the system’s launch, the Department has already used information learned from customers through the system to improve customer service and communications, expand our ability to analyze data, make operational improvements, and strengthen consumer protections. This preliminary report, which provides insight into the more than 4,800 cases submitted by customers between April 11 and Sept. 30, 2016, will be used to refine the Department’s analysis of system data ahead of publishing the required report in 2017.
The quarterly student aid reports are a key part of the FSA Data Center, which was launched in 2009 to increase government transparency by proactively making available information that is useful to the public.
In addition to posting updates, FSA added three new reports related to the federally managed portfolio, which provides greater insight into the portfolio of loans owned by the Department, including Direct Loans (DL) as well as ED-held Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) loans. Initially, reports were by loan program; these new reports combine them into one category of federally managed loans, providing new insights into the large overlap in loan recipients and segmenting the portfolio by loan status, repayment plan, and delinquency status. FSA also released a report that details the number of DL and FFEL borrowers and the dollar amount of their loans that were forgiven under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
Key findings of the data updates include:
- Enrollment in income-driven repayment plans (IDR) is increasing. As of September 2016, nearly 5.6 million DL borrowers were enrolled in IDR plans, a 33 percent increase from September 2015 and a 101 percent increase from September 2014. Nearly 1.2 million ED-held FFEL borrowers are enrolled in Income-Based Repayment and Income-Sensitive Repayment. Combined across the federally managed portfolio, approximately 5.8 million unique borrowers are enrolled in IDR plans; as of September 2016, 895,000 borrowers were enrolled in REPAYE.
- Consistent with recent trends, new defaults and delinquency rates continue to decrease. During the most recent quarter, about 280,000 DL recipients, or about 1.8 percent, entered default, compared to 1.9 percent one year ago. The DL delinquency rate has experienced yearly decreases of 10.6 percent by recipient and 8.5 percent by total dollar balance. The ED-held FFEL delinquency rate has experienced yearly decreases of 12.1 and 12.9 percent for recipients and volume, respectively.
- Tracking shows borrowers are moving toward public service loan forgiveness. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) permits DL borrowers—who make 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan, while working full-time for a qualifying employer—to have the remainder of their balance forgiven. Although no borrower will be eligible for forgiveness under this program until October 2017, the Department introduced a voluntary Employment Certification Form in January 2012 to help borrowers track their progress toward meeting PSLF requirements. The report shows that through Sept. 30, 2016, about 1.1 million forms have been submitted, and of those, about two-thirds have preliminary certification.
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