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US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Federal Student Aid

Functional Statements > Federal Student Aid

Customer Experience

Customer Experience (CE) is responsible for identifying, measuring and reporting customer expectations and satisfaction with the federal financial aid services and products offered Federal Student Aid. The CE is accountable for understanding the customers’ perception of service over their entire customer lifecycle and identifying ways to improve customer satisfaction. The CE serves as the “voice of the customer” and works as an advocate for issues facing customers.

CE will lead the primary customer management function within FSA. The unit is charged with developing and deepening trust-based relationships with key customer groups. These relationships will position FSA to be more proactive in identifying potential issues impacting customers. In addition, the unit will provide advice and counsel to key customer groups on various topics required for customers to remain in “good standing” with the Department. The CE team will work closely with all FSA business units to ensure that customer needs and expectations are met.

The primary customer groups within CE are:

Awareness and Outreach Group

The Awareness and Outreach Group is responsible for the vision, strategy, end-to-end management of, and the formulation and evaluation of products, services, tools and vehicles that impact awareness and outreach and customer engagement across the student aid life cycle. The Group is accountable for targeting segments of the student population and their families and influencers, providing information and guidance to assist in post-secondary school planning and decision-making and educating aid program recipients. To accomplish this mission, the Group performs the following functions:
  • Provides information and guidance to assist students in planning for a postsecondary education.
  • Targets segments of the population who are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education (both students and families) for Student Aid Awareness through partnerships and outreach.
  • Develops and implements strategies to increase early aid awareness.
  • Conducts awareness and outreach campaigns using traditional, digital, and social media.
  • Manages the content of and access to StudentAid.gov and the Federal Student Aid for Counselors’ website.
  • Establishes and manages partnerships with organizations that share concerns about access in student financial aid.
  • Facilitates and manages networks within the awareness and outreach community (e.g., National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, Guaranty Agencies).
  • Develops and delivers training for high school guidance counselors on student awareness and outreach products.
  • Manages the design, development, translation, production (including printing) and fulfillment of financial aid publications (content development resides in the program areas).
  • Collects and analyzes customer data for use in improving awareness and outreach products and services.
  • Manages Federal Student Aid’s social media strategy and enterprise implementation and engagement activities.

Ombudsman Group

The Ombudsman serves as a principal advisor to the COO by providing expert findings, advice, and recommendations on matters pertaining to FSA program development and operational effectiveness. To accomplish this mission, the Ombudsman:

  • Provides timely assistance to borrowers of loans made, insured, or guaranteed;
  • Receives, reviews, and attempts to informally resolve complaints from loan borrowers;
  • Serves as an impartial resource to mediate disputes internally without the need for outside arbitration;
  • Develops a deep knowledge of business issues that face FSA borrowers and partners;
  • Gathers information about business trends that impact FSA’s ability to anticipate and address customers needs; and
  • Reviews FSA’s operations and recommends quality improvements.
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Consumer Protection Group

(in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection Group works to protect customer against unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the student aid marketplace. The CPG conducts investigations, develops rules to protect consumers, and educates consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. The Bureau also collects complaints about consumer fraud and identity theft and makes them available to the Office of the Inspector General. The CPG works very closely with the Ombudsman’s Office, Program Compliance, Student Experience, and Borrower Experience teams’ to assess the student financial aid marketplace and develop ways to ensure that business practices service the best interest of students and their families. The CPG will perform the following functions:

  • Provide greater transparency into schools’ or lenders’ programs and practices
  • Publish accurate information regarding a school track record of performance (e.g. retention rates, graduation rates, job placement, starting salaries, cohort default rates)
  • Publish accurate information regarding lending practices
  • Publish information that will help students and their families make better and more informed decisions (which school to attend and the best way to finance their education)
  • Develop and roll-out a “buyer beware” campaign for students and their families
  • Partner with Student Experience to ensure that FSA’s financial literacy programs are effective so that students can get aid at the lowest possible cost

Student Experience Group

Student Experience Group (SEG) acts as the entry point to the student aid life-cycle by delivering integrated awareness and application products and services that are driven by the needs of millions of students, potential applicants and their families. The organization's primary role is to ensure that students and their families are aware of, have access to, and have applied for post-secondary financial assistance. To accomplish this mission, the SEG is divided into the following two divisions:

Application Processing Division

The Application Processing Division is responsible for collecting and managing and application information, student eligibility demonstrations and related processes. To accomplish this mission, the Application Processing Division:

  • Formulates new program management standards for the application process and provides program management and oversight for the application activities. Provides expert guidance to assist in the formulation of operational policy and procedures related to application processing.
  • Manages the Image and Data Capture (IDC) process for all paper FAFSA’s received for processing, including establishing and monitoring rules for exception processing, special handling, data analysis, and data entry.. .
  • Develops innovative ideas and provides recommendations for program improvement and/or enhancements for Application Processing and revises and takes action on all quality control and quality assurance reviews.
  • Supports Operational Activity related to application processing and assists in resolving program and system issues with students and schools.

Applicant Products and Customer Services Division

  • Continually reviews and improves aid application products (e.g. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), FAFSA on the Web) to ensure materials are easy to use and student centric.
  • Responds to customer inquiries and requests using appropriate interaction channels at the Federal Student Aid Information contact center (FSAIC).
  • Collects and analyzes customer data for use in improving applicant products and services and better understanding trends.
  • Collects and analyzes customer data for use in improving applicant products and services and better understanding trends.
  • Maintains customer demographic and contact histories.
  • Ensures that system generated outputs (e.g., Personal Identification Number (PIN) mailer, Student Aid Report (SAR)) are student-centric.
  • Develops tools for and delivers training to high school guidance counselors on student applicant products developed by this organization.
  • Educates Federal Student Aid staff on student applicant products developed by this organization.

School Experience Group

The School Experience Group works proactively to identify the unique service needs of all postsecondary education institutions including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s), Hispanic Speaking Institutions (HSI’s), and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCU’s) as prescribed in existing Presidential Executive Orders and provides the assistance required to ensure their continued participation in any Title IV programs. To accomplish this mission, the Group provides program management, oversight, monitoring and targeted technical assistance to improve Title IV program compliance. It works aggressively in a proactive and collaborative manner to improve performance. The Group develops tools and guidelines to assist Title IV program participants and Federal Student Aid staff to assess, attain, or improve compliance with Title IV Program requirements.

There are seven Divisions, each one supporting a specific school type/area:

  • Private Division
  • Public Division
  • Proprietary Division
  • Minority Serving
  • Foreign Division
  • Graduate Division
  • Associations Division
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Borrower Experience Group

The Borrower Experience Group 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 team performs the following functions:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Customer Analytics Group

The Customer Analytics Group gathers, analyzes and reports on FSA customer behavior, issues and feedback. CAG develops various customer feedback systems to provide customers ways to provide information of the performance of FSA and its customer contact vendors. CAG will provide management trend reports to FSA Operating Committee members to stimulate discussions on ways to improve the customer experience. CAG performs the following key functions:

  • Own all FSA customer survey tools and ensures that these tools capture customer feedback in a timely and accurate manner
  • Collects and analyzes customer data for use in improving the customer experience
  • Provide monthly and quarterly customer reporting to the FSA Operating Committee
  • Leads all customer satisfaction survey activities and any analysis of the data
  • Conducts customer segmentation based on unique needs and behaviors
  • Performs ad-hoc customer reporting
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Last Modified: 11/06/2014