By: Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
Today, I’m pleased to announce that Federal Student Aid (FSA) posted the solicitation for what we’re calling the Unified Servicing and Data Solution (USDS). The USDS is the long-term loan servicing solution designed to provide federal student loan borrowers with a 21st-century customer experience. Building on lessons learned from past loan servicing efforts, FSA and the U.S. Department of Education are committed to holding USDS servicers accountable for a high level of performance and focusing on key objectives like reducing borrower delinquency and default.
As the father of twins who recently graduated from college, I can appreciate what you or your parents go through each year as you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA® form. As you know, completing this form can open the door to your higher education dreams by providing federal student grants, work-study funds, and loans. The FAFSA form can also unlock other opportunities for grants and scholarships from states, schools, and private organizations.
As students and families prepare for education beyond high school, cost is a critical consideration. At Federal Student Aid, we know students and families often have to make tough decisions about higher education, and we know the COVID-19 emergency has made some of those decisions even harder.
In typical times, submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the first step students and families should take to access federal dollars for college or career school; this is especially true during this challenging period.
Federal Student Aid has renewed our commitment to delivering innovative tools and resources to empower you throughout your financial aid journey. This month, we’ve made updates to some of those pretty well-known resources on StudentAid.gov: entrance and exit counseling.
Entrance counseling—required before you receive your first Direct Subsidized or Direct Unsubsidized Loan as an undergraduate and before you receive your first Direct PLUS Loan as a graduate or professional student—ensures that you understand the responsibilities and rights that come with taking out a federal student loan. Exit counseling—required when you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment—provides important information needed to prepare for repaying federal student loans.
Entrance and exit counseling are critical parts of the financial aid journey, and we’re excited to make this experience better for you.