April 13, 2010
Dear Secondary School Administrator:
The U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid (FSA) office has received inquiries from a number of secondary school administrators and others about whether FSA can assist them in determining which of their students have submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming school year. This information could help in implementing targeted outreach efforts to assist students and families who have not yet submitted a FAFSA, or whose submitted FAFSA may be incomplete. As you know, completing the FAFSA is a critical component of access to postsecondary education.
In response to these requests from administrators and others, FSA is establishing a process, as outlined in this letter, which would allow administrators from a limited number of secondary schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) to obtain FAFSA submission information for their students. Because of limited resources for the first phase of this effort this year, no more than 20 entities will be able to participate in this process.
Under this process, secondary schools and LEAs would submit, via the Web, identifiers (not including social security numbers) of their students for whom the school or LEA wanted FAFSA submission information. FSA would respond with student specific FAFSA submission information through a secure downloadable file. Specifically, information would be provided as to whether the student had submitted a FAFSA and, if so, whether that initial submission was complete.
To participate in this initial process of receiving FAFSA submission information for its students, an entity must be a secondary school or LEA. It also must have software and hardware compatible with the Department's systems, as described below, so that staff can effectively interface operationally with those systems. Participating entities need to have, at a minimum, the following technical capacity:
- IBM or fully IBM-compatible PC with a 1.2 GHz processor.
- 512 MB RAM memory.
- 60 GB hard drive.
- 48X CD-ROM drive (CD-RW recommended).
- Windows compatible keyboard and mouse.
- SVGA graphics adapter capable of 800 X 600 screen resolution or higher.
- 56 kbps analog modem using V.90 and an Internet Service.
- Laser printer capable of printing on standard paper.
- Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Home or Professional.
- Provider (ISP) or a direct connection to the Internet.
Participating entities will need to provide "directory information" for those students for whom they wish to obtain FAFSA submission status information. Consistent with the relevant provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and implementing regulations (20 U.S.C. 1232g and 34 CFR Part 99), in order for a participating entity to provide directory information to FSA, it must have designated as "directory information" under FERPA the student's name, address, and date of birth. In addition, the student or his or her parents must not have opted not to allow the disclosure of this directory information.
Each entity receiving FAFSA submission information will be required to enroll with FSA's access and security system. Organizations and staff that have access to these records also must agree to security and privacy guidelines.
Secondary schools or LEAs that are interested in receiving FAFSA submission information on their students and meet the technical capacity requirements should send an e-mail to Rebecca Alcorn at FAFSACompletion@ed.gov. Please include in the Subject line "FAFSA Submission Project." The e-mail should include the name of the secondary school or LEA and the name, position, e-mail address, and phone number(s) of a primary contact person. Qualifying entities will be entered in this process on a first-come, first-served basis until our capacity is reached. We hope to expand the program in the future.
Availability of Funds: This process is an effort to respond to data requests from eligible entities. No federal funds are available for establishing the technical capability to receive FAFSA information or for any other aspect of this process. We appreciate your interest and your cooperation in this matter.
William J. Taggart
Chief Operating Officer
Federal Student Aid