The Department of Education recently held its annual Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference online.
The conference included over 35 educational sessions and made notable updates, including on FSA’s work on its upcoming Partner Connect portal. The portal, scheduled to be unveiled March 2021, is the latest deliverable of FSA’s NextGen initiative. It will provide easier access to more than 15 existing FSA websites currently used by partners—including higher education institutions, state agencies, third-party servicers, private collection agencies, and loan servicers.
A new Knowledge Center will replace the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website and will have improved search capabilities. The Knowledge Center also will include a new FSA Handbook, utilizing an HTML design instead of PDFs, though users will still be able to download PDFs of the handbook.
Upon user login, the portal also will display a partner dashboard with tailored information based on the user role and partner type. The dashboard for users at schools will feature institutional financial information, program eligibility details, and experimental site eligibility. Staff at institutions also will be able to see a read-only view of what FSA customers—students, parents, and borrowers—view on StudentAid.gov.
ED will soon be sharing details on training sessions that will be hosted before and after the FSA Partner Connect launch.
Slides and video recordings of the FSA conference sessions are available online. While the majority of the sessions were aimed at financial aid staff, some should be of particular interest to business office staff. Those sessions include:
- General Session 1: Welcome and Opening Remarks
- General Session 3: Legislative Update
- General Session 5: COVID-19 Higher Education Policy
- General Session 7: StudentAid.gov and Mobile App Walkthrough
- General Session 8: FSA NextGen Introduces FSA Partner Connect
- Session 4: Title IV Reconciliation
- Session 8: Submitting the FISAP
- Session 11: Regulatory Update: Financial Responsibility
- Session 14: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Reporting
- Session 18: Return of Title IV Funds
- Session 20: Program Review Essentials
- Session 21: Top 10 Compliance Findings
- Session 25: FSA Partner Connect Preview