November 3, 2014
Dear Student Support Services Project Director:
This letter is in regard to the Student Support Services Program (SSS) Annual Performance Report (APR) submission for the 2013-14 reporting year. Beginning November 3, 2014, please visit https://trio.ed.gov/sss to access the Web application. The deadline for submitting the APR is December 5, 2014.
It is imperative that you review all of the information contained in this letter carefully, with special attention to the following itemized information, prior to completing and submitting your APR for this reporting year:
1. Revisions to the 2013-2014 APR
The 2013-14 APR expired in August 2014; therefore, the APR was submitted for clearance. During the clearance process, the Department made the following revisions to the APR:
- Field 21, Student Cohort Year—Option 99, “Not applicable” was added to account for participants who were served in the reporting period but had not been previously reported as belonging to any of the cohorts listed in field 21. The revision will resolve issues related to cohort increases. For additional information, please refer to item #2 below, Cohort Comparison Report.
- Additional instructions were included in field 31, “Undergraduate Degree/Certificate Completed at Grantee Institution” to stress upon grantees when to and when not to update information on the degree field as doing so may impact a grantee’s prior experience points.
- Field 37, “Participant Name Change”—This field is new and was added to address grantee’s concerns regarding their inability to change a participant’s name because of the reporting requirement that does not allow grantees to make such changes. Please note that the fields 4 and 5 (participant’s first and last name) cannot be changed; however, grantees can use field 37 to record a name change.
2. Cohort Comparison Report
The purpose of the Cohort Comparison Report is to ensure that no additional students who were not part of the cohorts in the previous APR reporting period are added to the cohorts for the current reporting period. As such, for the 2013-14 reporting period, the report compares participants in your 2013-14 APR data file submission to that of the 2012-13 APR data by Cohort Year. In reviewing grantee data over a two-year period, some grantees continued to increase pre-established (verified) cohorts. Even though grantees should not have increased the cohorts, the reason the Web application system allowed projects to increase their cohorts was because there was no procedure in the APR to account for participants who had been served in the reporting period but had not previously been reported as belonging to one of cohorts listed in the APR. However, after examining grantee data, some grantees continued to increase their cohorts even though the participants were not served in the reporting period (i.e., prior-year participant).
Beginning with the 2013-14 APR, the Department will no longer allow grantees to increase their cohorts even if the participant was served in the reporting period. As mentioned in “1a” above (Annual Performance Report Revisions to the Student Cohort Year, Field 21), a process is now in place that provides a way for the grantee to report on a participant who was served in the reporting period but was not reported in the 2012-13 APR as belonging to one of the cohorts listed in field 21. Therefore, should a project receive an error message in the Cohort Comparison Report, the project will not be allowed to continue their submission until they comply with the report’s requirement. We strongly advise that grantees have on hand their 2012-13 APR data as they will need this information to fix any cohort reporting issues.
- Prior Experience (PE) Points Report—Please note that 2013-14 is the final PE assessment year for the 2010-15 grant cycle. Should you apply for a new SSS grant in the fiscal year 2015 competition, the PE score for your project will be the average of the scores for the three PE assessment years (2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14).
- Funded Number—Please note that due to sequestration, your funded number for 2013-14 may be different than your funded number for 2012-13 and 2014-15; therefore, please take this into account when reviewing the funded number and eligibility report and PE reports that are generated by the Web application system.
- Submission of Signed Copy of Section I—The Department is no longer accepting a signed copy of Section I via fax. You must scan and upload, to the Web application system, your signed copy of Section 1.
For your convenience, the following information is being provided concerning your access to the Web application:
All grantees must register for a userid and password in order to protect the security of the APR data. Register by clicking on the "Register Here Each Year" link and enter your name and e-mail address. If your name and e-mail address match our records, you may proceed to the next step in the registration process, which is to select and answer two security questions. You are required to provide responses to these questions should you need to use the “Forgot Password” link to receive a new, temporary password. In most cases, you will not have to call the Help Desk in the event you have forgotten your password.
If you are a new project director or have recently changed your e-mail address, it is likely that your name or email address will not be in our records. In this situation, you will receive an email message from the Help Desk informing you that your Department’s grants specialist must approve the changes before you can complete the registration process. The Help Desk will forward the request to Department staff who typically can approve these changes within 48 hours. Once the changes have been approved, you will receive an email informing you that you can proceed with registering and submitting your APR.
The Help Desk
If you encounter technical problems accessing the Web site or using the Web application, please contact the Help Desk by either telephone at (703) 846-8248 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the Help Desk will try to contact projects within 24 hours of receiving the telephone call or e-mail. The Help Desk will be available to respond to your questions on weekdays that are not Federal holidays from November 3, 2014 until December 5, 2014. During the holidays and peak times, it may take longer for you to receive a response, thus, we encourage you to prepare and submit your performance report as soon as you have collected complete data.
Please remember that, after you submit the completed APR electronically, you must scan and upload a signed copy of Section I of the report form that certifies that the information submitted electronically is readily verifiable and that the information reported is accurate and complete. If for any reason you need to revise your performance report data after you submit it, please contact the Help Desk for information on revising your report and resubmitting it electronically. Please note that generally the Department will be able to accommodate revisions only until the due date for submitting your APR. If you have questions regarding the performance report requirements, please contact your ED program specialist directly. To ascertain your ED program specialist's name, telephone number, and e-mail address, please visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/triostudsupp/staff.html.
Thank you for the time and effort you dedicate to performance reporting each year and for your commitment to providing complete and accurate data. Please retain source documents in a readily accessible form so that they can be verified during an on-site visit.
Eileen S. Bland
Director, Undergraduate Programs Division