Office of Federal Student Aid
I. BUSINESS OPERATIONS
The Business Operations office is responsible for best in business service to aid recipients and schools and notifying aid recipients of repayment options, controlling delinquent/defaulted accounts, assessing portfolio risk, recommending proactive strategies and consolidating aid recipient loans. To accomplish this mission the Business Operations office is comprised of the following service areas:
- Program Management Services Group
- Operations Performance Management Services Group
- Operations Services Group
- Systems Operations & Aid Delivery Management Services Group
Default DivisionThe Default Division is responsible for the management of the default collection tools, which includes the private collection agency contract, and participant relations related to the defaulted accounts. The Division is responsible for providing the Department of Education with a means of controlling and resolving defaulted accounts. To accomplish its mission, the Default Division performs the following:
- Formulates new program management standards for default and provides expert guidance to assist in formulation of operational policy and procedures related to default.
- Drafts business rules for the administration of default activities; analyzes proposed and pending policies and regulations for systems and operational impacts, and assists in identifying systems requirements; serves as subject matter experts on default, including funding laws, regulations, and established policies.
- Develops innovative ideas and provide recommendations for program improvements for default collections and reviews and take action on all quality control and quality assurance reviews.
Grants and Campus Based DivisionThe Grants and Campus Based Division is responsible for providing program management oversight of Title IV Grants, LEAP/SLEAP, and Campus Based coordination functions. To accomplish this mission, the Grants and Campus Based Division performs the following:
- Formulates new program management standards and provides program management and oversight for Title IV Grants, LEAP/SLEAP and Campus Based programs.
- Provides expert guidance to assist in formulation of operational policy and procedures related to Title IV Grants, LEAP/SLEAP, and Campus Based programs and creates business rules for the administration of the programs.
- Develops innovative ideas and provide recommendations for program improvements and/or enhancements for Title IV Grants, LEAP/SLEAP and Campus Based programs.
- Supports operational activity related to Title IV Grants, LEAP/SLEAP and Campus Based programs.
- Provides program support for the Underuse Waiver Process in Campus Based programs.
- Provides direction and support to funds management regarding business rules for allocations and authorizations.
Direct Loans DivisionThe Direct Loans Division is responsible for providing program management oversight and performing Direct Loan coordination functions supporting origination, disbursement and servicing operations. Included in these functions is the program management oversight of the Teach Grant program. Additionally, Direct Loan Consolidation program management functions are supported within this group. To accomplish this mission, The Direct Loans Division performs the following origination and servicing functions:
- Formulates new program management standards for Direct Loans, Conditional Death and Disability (CDD) and the consolidation program and provides program management and oversight for the federal direct loan program.
- Provides expert guidance to assist in formulation of operational policy and procedures related to Direct Loans, and the CDD unit and creates business rules for the administration of the direct loan program, CDD, consolidation program, and administration of the discharge process.
- Provides direction and business rules for support reconciliation of direct loan program funds among financial management system, at schools, and on how to collect direct loan funds from schools for prior years.
- Develops innovative ideas and provide recommendations for program improvements and/or enhancements for Direct Loans, CDD and Consolidation.
- Increases collections in the Direct Loan portfolio. Provides assistance in developing plans to improve delinquency management and analyze delinquency/default forecasts to strategize default aversion activities.
- Supports operational activity related to Direct Loans, CDD and Consolidation and assists in resolving program and system issues with schools and the lending community. Supports school eligibility, certification and affiliation problem solving.
- Provides direction and assistance to new schools entering the Direct Loan program and the private lending community (FFEL, Guaranty Agencies, Servicers, and Schools) on issues related to the consolidation program and maintains current Direct Loan school status in delivery systems.
Internal Controls DivisionThe Internal Controls Division is responsible for program funding, financial management and reconciliation activities related to business operations' origination, disbursement and servicing of federal student aid.
To accomplish its mission, the Internal Controls Division performs funds control and reconciliation functions:
- Monitors schools' accountability for program funds by comparing funds drawn down by schools with disbursements recorded by schools at the recipient and school level.
- Tracks and reports on internal control observations and resolution. Prepares quarterly reports for management on status of observations.
- Provides oversight of and support of reconciliation on all student loans and grant overpayments held by Federal Student Aid and financial transactions associated with rehabilitated loan sales to lenders.
- Supports Chief Financial Officer's (CFO) response to audit requests and provides documentation to support audit activity.
- Monitors for schools that request funds exceeding limitations. Provides additional allowance for funds when appropriate. Performs weekly review of cash balances and unbooked loans.
- Resolves financial or funding related data discrepancies (e.g., Central Processing System (CPS), Common Origination and Disbursement, Direct Loan Servicing System (DLSS), Financial Management System (FMS), and the EDExpress application that is used to submit data to CPS.)
- Works with Grant Administration and Payment System (GAP) and FSA’s FMS staff to implement correct interface processes and procedures.
- Provides technical assistance to other Department staff as well as various Customer Service units, schools, and other governmental and non-government entities through ad hoc reports such as Student Payment Summaries.
- Manages reconciliation of program year-end closing. Processes post deadline processing (extended processing) such as administrative relief and audit adjustments based upon approval of program office.
- Calculates and prepares a monthly COD/FMSS Status of Funds report and reviews a monthly Forecasting and Funding Model Report that the contractor generates; present data at the monthly Pell Grant Cost Monitoring meeting hosted by Budget Service.
- Resolves Negative Balances (Unprocessed Deobligations) in prior award years by running weekly reports in the GAPS system and reviewing the weekly School Monitoring Reports. Conducts FSA System Reconciliation Activities.
- Performs reconciliation of program disbursements and funding information with Direct Loan Servicing, GAPS, COD, PEPS and FMS (including ABC Reconciliation).
- Provides oversight of Financial Activities of Title IV participants. Works with lenders, Guaranty Agencies and financial participants to assure responsiveness to requests for Loan Verification Certification information. Serves as an interface with FSA CFO for financial reconciliation and annual audit requirements.
Contract Oversight DivisionThe Contract Oversight Division is responsible for managing and administering Business Operations proposed, existing and expiring contracts, computer matching agreements, interagency agreements and related financial responsibilities. To accomplish its mission, the Contract Oversight Division is organized into the following two branches:
- Budget and Services Management Branch
- Program Contract Management Branch
Both Branches of the Contract Oversight Division are responsible for performing the following similar functions:
- Performs interagency and computer matching agreement management and monitoring.
- Develops and maintains contract cost projections throughout the life of the contract. Monitors actual costs to ensure contract costs remain within the annual budgetary constraints.
- Supports acquisitions, procurements and transitions.
- Manages Acquisition Requests through the automated Processing System and ensures funding availability before requisitioning.
Budget and Services Management BranchThe Budget and Services Management Branch is responsible for providing budget support services for all acquisitions and discretionary spending accounts for Business Operations. To accomplish this mission, the Budget and Services Management Branch performs the following:
- Performs budget development, budget tracking and analysis.
- Formulates records and updates budgetary needs and re-forecasts as necessary.
- Maintains budget justifications and historical budget data.
- Performs purchase card budget formulation and management for Business Operations.
- Performs invoice processing and administration.
Program Contract Management BranchThe Program Contract Management Branch is responsible for providing oversight and administrative management of contracts or other acquisitions solutions supporting the Business Operations mission. To accomplish this mission, the Program Contract Management Branch performs the following:
- Monitors the performance standards that are particular to the competitive nature of the numerous Private Collection Agencies contracts.
- Prepares OMB-300 and other requisite documentation relating to contract funding.
- Coordinates the interpretation or clarification of contract requirements between the Business Owners and the Acquisition Office.
- Monitors contracts in coordination with all of Business Operations. Executes Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP-eCampus Based).
- Coordinates an Annual Contract Performance Evaluation, to be submitted to the Contracting Officer. Maintains a record throughout the year of each performance element.
- Operations Analysis and Research Division
- Operations Performance Division
Operations Analysis and Research DivisionThe Operations Analysis and Research Division identifies trends and risks within the portfolio, provides insight and recommendations to appropriate areas within the Department of Education and meets reporting needs – internal and external – related to Title IV loan programs and provides data and financial analysis for all areas within Business Operations. The Division provides analysis of business strategies and results achieved related to mitigating risk of loss to ensure opportunities are maximized to greatest benefit to taxpayers and aid recipients. The Division also conducts or manages complex studies of new proposed legislation and regulations to determine impact on schools and other participants.
Operations Performance DivisionThe Operations Performance Division is a division that calculates and distributes performance indicators including cohort default rates (CDR), cumulative lifetime default rates, and provides services to the FFEL and Guaranty Agency communities. The division produces the Annual Report to Congress on Guaranty Agency operations, issues and monitors Lender Ids (LIDS) and conducts Tax Exempt Analysis. The division provides financial analysis of funds held by the Guaranty Agencies. The division also serves as subject matter experts on the FFEL program, including funding laws, regulations, and established policies. The Division also provides expert guidance to assist in formulation of operational policy and procedures related to FFEL.
Operations Services is a service area within Business Operations. Operations Services is responsible to oversee the business services provided to aid recipients. To accomplish its mission, Operations Services is divided into the following three divisions:
- Processing Division
- Program Communications Division
- Call Center, Hearings & Appeals Division
The immediate office of Operations Services is also responsible for administering the resolution of escalated issues arising from within any of the above three divisions. Those functional responsibilities are as follows:
- Oversees Call Escalation Procedures at Call Centers. Assists with establishing, implementing and monitoring Call Escalation Procedures at Call Centers to ensure sensitive telephone inquiries are handled providing effective customer service.
- Manage issues escalated from the Call Centers when there is a policy decision needed or the customer requests FSA resolution (example, POP conflicts when both schools believe they have acted properly)
- Coordinates and reports any issues/concerns/findings to Call Center And Private Collection Agencies and other operational areas of FSA as appropriate.
The Processing Division is responsible for Private Collection Agency (PCA) Monitoring, Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG) Compliance, Loan Exchange and Operations Entitlement Management, Litigation Support and Administrative Debt Resolution and management of the skip tracing process. To accomplish its mission, the Processing Division is organized into the following two branches:
- Branch A
- Branch B.
Both Branches perform the following functions:
- Oversees Private Collection-related Activities, usage of mandated and available other default collection tools, and default-related participants relations. Participates in PCA reviews, technical assistance and training.
- Performs AWG Compliance reviews. Performs reviews of contractor financial and operations internal controls either through desk audits or site visits.
- Perform assignment processes for defaulted loans and Conditional Disability Discharged Loans.
- Manages activities related to entitlements involving student loans and grants. Provides technical assistance for matters relating to loan cancellation and discharge.
- Develops and implements detailed systems and procedures for accurate and timely referral of cases of employer non-compliance to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for litigation & Tracks the progress of DOJ in litigation efforts, including the assurance of proper accounting for federal dollars collected through this effort.
- Performs activities related to rehabilitation and sale or reestablishment of defaulted loans into a non-default portfolio.
- Oversees the Income Contingent Repayment and deferment and forbearance processes to assure requests are properly applied, and processing issues are addressed and resolved.
- Oversee & Monitor assignment processes for defaulted loans and Conditional Disability Discharged Loans. Resolves issues when guaranty agencies have improperly assigned defaulted or CDD loans. Develops and implements detailed procedures for accurate and timely referral of GA non-compliance with default and CDD assignment process to appropriate FSA or Department Offices.
- Manages payment and refund operations within the Processing Group.
- Oversees payment operations including credit card payments, on-line payments, cash, non-cash, Loan Consolidation (LC) over and underpayment activity and other payment types for timely posting and other issues. Monitors and reviews processes and ensures proper disposition of actions.
Program Communications Division
The Program Communications Division has primary responsibility for providing best in business operations communications services to participants through Training and Information Services, Special Initiatives, and Internal/External Communications (Quality Assurance & Experimental Sites). In addition, Program Communications identifies the unique service needs of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Speaking Institutions, and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities and provides the assistance required to ensure their continued participation in any Title IV programs. Program Communications is responsible for designing, developing, and delivering high quality learning products, publications and web products targeted to Federal Student Aid’s participants, and, as appropriate, Department of Education and operating staff. To accomplish this mission, the Program Communications Division is divided into the following three Branches:
- Training & Information Services Branch
- Internal/External Communications Branch
Each Branch of the Program Communications Division is responsible for performing the following functions:
- Ensures that all parties receive consistent training assistance that reflects FSA's priorities and strategic goals in the form of materials, presentations, or communications, including input into web products.
- Serves as a liaison between Federal Student Aid and stakeholders of postsecondary education (including members of the financial aid community).
- Provides technical assistance and resource management support for proprietary schools to ensure compliance with Title IV programs.
- Provides assistance in developing a plan to improve default aversion, including site visits, development of tools, and outreach activities. Creates and aligns community and enterprise-wide default aversion strategies to meet the Department of Education’s performance goals.
Training and Information Services Branch
The Training and Information Services Branch is responsible for designing, developing, and delivering high quality learning products, publications and web products targeted to Federal Student Aid’s school partners, and, as appropriate, Department of Education and operating staff.
The Branch is also responsible for interfacing with school partners to respond to inquiries and requests for information. To accomplish this mission, the Training and Information Services Branch provides the following services:
- Provides training and training related materials to Title IV participants. Manages participants training logistics; including registration system management, certificate preparation, training supplies, and securing training spaces.
- Develops and executes technical training and internal communications programs.
- Designs, develops, and delivers Title IV program training to Title IV participants for national training programs and to internal Federal Student Aid staff. Gathers and analyzes feedback from customers regarding satisfaction with learning products delivered.
- Works with Federal Student Aid, schools, and other Title IV participants to identify and analyze participants-learning needs and to develop and deliver training to meet those needs.
- Works with Business Owners to develop training priorities that reflect Federal Student Aid's strategic goals and ensures that training products and services are aligned with these goals.
- Develops tools and guidelines to assist Title IV participants and Federal Student Aid staff to assess, attain, or improve compliance with Title IV Program requirements.
Internal/External Communications Branch
The Internal/External Communications Branch is responsible for the administration of Title IV program communications and innovative approaches to delivering Title IV program services. To accomplish this mission, the Training and Information Services Branch provides the following services:
- Coordinates external activities with Federal Student Aid external communications. Coordinates the response to information requests from internal and external entities, including Freedom of Information Act Requests and IG investigations. Ensures alignment of presentation topics at state and regional conferences to the training goals.
- Manage paper & electronic customer publications and manages the review, edit, and approval process for all paper-based and electronic customer publications. Ensures a consistent look and feel across all non-system related websites for customers. Gathers, analyzes, and recommends changes and enhancements to the website functionality based on customer feedback.
- Develops, implements, and monitors innovative performance-based approaches in student aid delivery (such as the Quality Assurance Program and the Experimental Sites initiatives.) Establishes/publishes parameters for participation, evaluates applications, and coordinates the acceptance of schools into these programs.
Call Center, Hearings And Appeals Division
The Division is responsible for Call Center Oversight, Treasury Offset Hearings & Interagency Appeals, Administrative Wage Garnishment Hearings and for ensuring the customer is provided quality service and due diligence by answering inquiries, resolving disputes and protecting the customer’s rights and entitlements under the law and advising them of their options. To accomplish this mission, the Call Center, Hearings & Appeals Division is divided into the following two Branches:
- Call Center Oversight Branch
- Hearings & Interagency Appeals Branch
Call Center Oversight Branch
The Call Center Oversight Branch is responsible for ensuring the customer is provided quality service and due diligence by answering inquiries, resolving disputes and protecting the customer’s rights and entitlements under the law and advising them of their options. To accomplish this mission, the Call Center Oversight Branch performs the following functions:
- Manages the oversight and operations of Business Operations Call centers and Support Service centers.
- Monitors for quality customer service. Ensures that service is provided consistent with all rules and regulations and that all approved processes are followed. Monitors system records for timeliness of servicing and that actions taken are recorded appropriately in order to avoid delinquency or default.
- Performs Quality control review/audits and tracks performance metrics and work processes of contractor on all Call Center operations to ensure quality customer service and timeliness.
- Supports FOIA requests and IG investigations. Ensures timely and accurate responses to controlled correspondence (e.g., White House, Congressional and Office of the Secretary, etc.) and FOIAs. Ensures that appropriate management is aware of issue so that process improvement can be implemented.
- Coordinates responses to OIG Hotline Inquiries and Acts as central coordinating entity for FOIA requests within Business Operations.
- Provides guidance and assistance to support to Business Operations call centers and Title IV participants. Provides support to resolve inquiries/exceptions. Operates a toll-free technical inquiry line for financial aid professionals. Makes outgoing calls as needed for projects or to request information. Identifies and reports call center trends as appropriate.
- Partners with Customer Service Call Center And Private Collection Agencies to respond to questions from website users, callers and written correspondence.
Hearings and Interagency Appeals Branch
The Hearings and Interagency Appeals Branch is responsible for administering the process for all hearings and interagency appeals. To accomplish this mission, the Hearings and Interagency Appeals Branch performs the following functions:
- Performs Treasury Offset Hearings & Interagency Appeals and Performs Administrative Wage Garnishment Hearings.
- Provides oversight of contractors performing research, analysis and preliminary written response of hearing as well as ensuring the gathering of all pertinent documentation in order for hearing official to make sound judgment and provide hearing based on all testimony.
Systems Operations and Aid Delivery Management Services is responsible for oversight of all systems, system related activities and aid delivery across Business Operations. To accomplish its mission, System Operations & Aid Delivery Management Services is divided into the following four divisions:
- Production Division
- Security Division
- Change Management Division
- Systems Integration Division
The Production Division is responsible for oversight of the computer operating environment and network. To accomplish this mission, the Production Division performs the following functions:
- Oversee all production activity for Business Operations and manages systems development, production processing and maintenance.
- Manages updates to System of Records notices (SORNs); Privacy Act Statements, Privacy Impact Assessments, Trading Partner Agreements (TPA), and Interface Control Documents (ICD).
- Manages the process of archiving and retrieval of system data, including the storage of paper documents.
- Oversees and participates in system development, maintenance and testing efforts.
- Monitors production and reports system data at an aggregate level.
- Manages system implementations (with business owners).
- Performs system reconciliation activities, and operational matches including matches with external agencies. Resolves reconciliation feeder system error files.
- Manage Participation in eAuthentication Pilot (Campus Based).
The Security Division is responsible for all data, system and access security for automated systems in Business Operations. To accomplish this mission, the Security Division performs the following functions:
- Oversees all security activity for Business Operations. Manages system security requirements, testing and related processes (including access request forms, and configuration management).
- Manages security issues, disaster recovery, A-123 IT and certification and accreditation (C&A) activity. Manages disaster recovery efforts related to security. Manages systems C&A with business owners. Manages systems A-123 IT audits with business owners. Provides incident reports and tracking and assists with security portion of audits works to resolve/close issues from findings.
Change Management Division
The Requirements and Testing Division is responsible to manage and lead the requirements gathering process, manage and lead the change management process, manage the testing process, and provide technical assistance and support for FSA and Title IV participants to support compliance with Title IV programs. To accomplish this, the Requirements and Testing Division performs the following functions:
- Manages the requirement gathering process. Coordinates the development of requirements for all of Business Operations. Develops annual requirements plans and develops ad hoc requirement plans as necessary for new initiatives.
- Analyzes proposed and pending policies and regulations for systems and operational impacts. Gathers and validates requirements, to develop new system modifications needed to implement legislative/regulatory changes making recommendations as appropriate. Articulates requirements to contractors and works with the contractors to support the requirement process.
- Participates in the development of contract modification Statement of Objectives, Statement of Work, or Performance Work Statements. Assesses contractor proposals (for new requirements) for completeness, scope and level of effort.
- Maintains a library of requirements. Manages and socializes available requirement artifacts. Provides system documentation and testing support to Software Developers (i.e. ISIR layout, Need Analysis Specifications (NAS), and testing documentation).
- Manages change management process. Establishes, maintains, and communicates a comprehensive understanding of change in business process among all Business Operations. Work with CIO on volume, capacity and hardware issues related to changes.
- Manages the Testing Process. Coordinates, develops and manages test approach, plans and resources for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Inter-system Testing (IST). Manages the UAT process from planning to execution. Creates, collects and stores testing artifacts.
- Works with the contractors to support the testing process. Establishes uniformity in testing progress measurement processes, procedures and documentation between systems and contractors by standardizing them across systems or software items.
- Validates system outputs and procedures for correctness and adherence to requirements. Manages the review of test results on all initiatives for Federal Student Aid held portfolios.
Systems Integration Division
The Systems Integration Division is responsible for assessing, coordinating, and planning enterprise solutions for integrating Business Operations’ processes and systems. The Division also operates and maintains Business Operations’ enterprise systems. To accomplish its mission Systems Integration Division performs the following Aid Delivery Management and Business Operations’ Enterprise Systems Management functions:
- Assesses and documents current business processes and systems for integration opportunities to streamline and standardize business operations.
- Identifies and documents Business Operations’ data requirements for integrated Federal Student Aid target state solutions.
- Facilitates visioning process to document artifacts for Business Operations’ target state solutions and their respective high-level business requirements for inclusion in procurement efforts and provides input and artifacts to Contracts to ensure solutions are communicated in procurement efforts.
- Works with Business Operations’ Divisions to gather high-level business requirements for integrating enterprise solutions and systems and supports implementations of enterprise solutions and systems.
- Evaluates Enterprise Sequencing Plan and provides input for Business Operations needs and expectations and provides recommendations for enterprise solutions and systems development and maintenance efforts.
- Coordinates communication, evaluation, and concurrence of operational changes to Business Operations’ Systems and act as liaison across Federal Student Aid offices to ensure enterprise solutions are comprehensive and meet Business Operations’ requirements.
- Leads coordination of Business Operations’ participation in Business and Technology Integration activities and initiatives.
- Manages operations, maintenance, and enhancements of current Business Operations’ enterprise systems to include NSLDS, CSB and FFEL Data Marts, and Portals.
- Provides expertise and knowledge in the development of queries and data extraction from Business Operations’ enterprise systems and serves as Subject Matter Experts and Business Analysts for integrating cross-program data.
- Manages transition of legacy Business Operations’ enterprise systems to Federal Student Aid target state solutions, including retirement of legacy functions and enterprise systems.
- Develop integration requirements for enterprise systems for all Title IV programs.
- Supports implementation of Business Operations’ enterprise systems target state solutions and manages operations and maintenance post implementation of the target state solutions.