Financial Aid Updates and other Noteworthy Information:

Student Loan Repayment Pause:

The White House announced another extension of the student loan repayment pause.  Loan repayments were slated to resume on January 1, 2023.  Payments will not resume on January 1, 2023.  Instead, the U.S. Department of Education is extending the repayment pause into 2023.  This is in response to legal challenges over President Biden's student loan forgiveness program (debt relief). 

Repayment will start 60 days after the Department is permitted to implement the debt relief program or current litigation is resolved.  If the debt relief program is not implemented or if litigation is not resolved by June 30, 2023 - loan payments will resume 60 days after that. 

The Office of Financial Aid has no additional information regarding the student loan repayment pause.  Borrowers should contact their student loan servicer with questions.  

One-Time Student Loan Debt Relief -Blocked:

The one-time student loan debt relief targeted to low and middle income families is currently blocked.  As a result, at this time, the U.S. Department of Education is not accepting applications. 

The Office of Financial Aid has no additional information regarding student loan debt relief.   All borrower inquiries should be addressed directly to the U.S. Department of Education.  Borrowers can use the link below to subscribe and check back for updates regarding the status of debt relief:

Subscriptions | U.S. Department of Education

  • When subscribing provide a valid email address and make sure to click on the Federal Student Loan Borrower Updates box.

WATCH OUT FOR STUDENT LOAN SCAMMERS:

Link to the web page below for important information on how to identify a student loan scam:

3 Ways to Spot Student Loan Scams – Federal Student Aid

Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB):

As the new academic begins, many students and families are still struggling financially because of the ongoing pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program may be a resource for eligible students and their families to afford internet service during the COVID -19 pandemic.  Although the EBB program is not a federal student aid program, it is a benefit offered by another federal agency that provides a monthly discount on broadband service up to $50 per eligible household. 

As with many federal programs, students and their families will need to qualify for the EBB program to benefit from its services.  For more information about the EBB program, students can access this link:

https://www.fcc.gov/consumer-faq-emergency-broadband-benefit

FAFSA Updates to the Selective Service Requirement and Drug-Related Convictions:

On December 27, 2020, the FAFSA Simplification Act (Act) was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The Act makes many important changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Two significant changes are listed below:

  • The requirement that male students register with the Selective Service before the age of 26 to be eligible for federal student aid under Title IV of the HEA (Title IV); and
  • Suspension of eligibility for Title IV aid for drug-related convictions that occurred while receiving Title IV aid.

2021-2022 Award Year

For the 2021-2022 award year, for which the FAFSA cycle has already begun, the Selective Service and drug conviction questions (as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA) will remain on the FAFSA. However, failing to register with the Selective Service or having a drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid will no longer impact a student’s Title IV aid eligibility.

2022-2023 Award Year

Similar to the 2021-2022 award year:

  • The Selective Service and drug conviction questions (as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA) will remain on the FAFSA.  However, failing to register with the Selective Service or having a drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid will no longer affect a student’s Title IV aid eligibility.

2023-2024 Award Year

For the 2023-2024 award year, the U. S. Department of Education plans to completely remove both the Selective Service and drug conviction questions from the FAFSA, as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA.

Repeal of the 150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit (SULA):

 The Department of Education (ED) recently announced that the 150% Direct Subsidized Loan limit, or “SULA” is being repealed.  What exactly does this mean for students? Here is a brief summary:

  • For students who receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans first disbursed on July 1, 2021 or later, SULA restrictions do not apply, regardless of the award year associated with the loan.
  • For students whose interest subsidy benefits were lost due to having a remaining eligibility period of zero or less, subsidy benefits will be restored for all subsidized loans with outstanding balances on July 1, 2021. The interest subsidies will be retroactively applied for all subsidized loans issued since the 2013-2014 award year.
  • Direct loan entrance counseling will no longer be required to include information on the eligibility limitation of subsidized loans based on a borrower’s subsidized usage period.
  • Direct loan exit counseling will no longer need to include SULA information, including:
    • How a borrower’s maximum eligibility period, remaining eligibility period, and subsidized usage period are determined;
    • The sum of a borrower’s subsidized usage periods at the time of exit counseling;
    • The consequences of continued borrowing or enrollment;
    • The impact of the borrower becoming responsible for accruing interest on total student debt;
    • That the Secretary will inform the student borrower of whether he or she is responsible for accruing interest on his or her Direct Subsidized Loans; and
    • That the borrower can access the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to determine whether he or she is responsible for accruing interest on any Direct Subsidized Loans.

The repeal of SULA has many benefits for students.  As an example, students who had outstanding loan balances and had lost their interest subsidy will benefit from the retroactive restoration of their interest subsidy, and future students will no longer need to make decisions based on the potential loss of their interest subsidy.

Undocumented Students

State law, enacted by the Connecticut General Assembly, allows undocumented students to apply for institutional financial aid.  These students must meet certain age, residency, and criminal history requirements along with an affidavit provided to Charter Oak about their intent to legalize their immigration status when they are eligible to do so.  This new law does not apply to non-immigrant visa holders. 

Tax Return Transcripts

Moving to better protect taxpayer data, the Internal Revenue Service has implemented a new format for tax return transcripts that will redact personally identifiable information (PII). Identifying information, including names, addresses, SSN’s, will now be partially redacted from the tax return transcript, but all money amounts will be visible.

Based on the limited information that will now be displayed on the tax return transcript, students are required to reference their name and student id on their tax return transcript before sending it to the Office of Financial Aid. This is the only way that our office will be able to match the tax transcript to the student’s financial aid record.

Students who do not want their financial aid delayed are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer their tax data onto their FAFSA application. Students who cannot use the IRS DRT, or choose not to use the IRS DRT, will be responsible for providing their full name and student id on all transcripts (student/spouse/parent) submitted.

IRS DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL (IRS DRT) - UPDATE

The IRS DRT is available for students to use when completing their FAFSA application. Additional security and privacy protections have been added to address identity theft concerns. Due to these concerns, tax information transferred from the IRS onto the FAFSA application won't be visible to applicants. 

Federal Pell Grant Program - Duration of Eligibility

Once you have received a Pell Grant for 12 semesters (full-time), or the equivalent, you are no longer eligible for additional Pell Grants.

  • You are eligible to receive a Pell Grant for up to 12 semesters or the equivalent. If you have exceeded the 12-semester maximum, you lose eligibility for additional Pell Grants. Equivalency is calculated by adding together the percentage of your Pell eligibility that you received each year to determine whether the total amount exceeds 600%.
  • For example, if your maximum Pell Grant award amount for the school year was $5,550, but you only receive $2,775 because you were only enrolled for one semester, you would have used 50% of your maximum award for the year. If in the following school year, you were enrolled only three-quarter time, you would have used 75% of your maximum award for that year. Together, you would have received 125% out of the total 600% lifetime limit.
  • Learn more about the Pell Grant limit.