Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office posted a series of updates to its data center, a collection of key performance data about the federal student aid portfolio. The updates, which continue the Department’s commitment to greater transparency on the federal student loan portfolio and other key financial aid metrics, include three new federally managed portfolio reports by loan status, repayment plan, and delinquency status, and a report about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.
Further reflecting the Department’s commitment to transparency and to serving students and borrowers, today the Department released a preliminary report about the FSA feedback system. The feedback system, launched in July 2016 to fulfill one of the primary objectives of President Obama’s Student Aid Bill of Rights, is an online portal that allows federal student aid customers to submit complaints, provide positive feedback, and report allegations of suspicious activity.
In the short time since the system’s launch, the Department has already used information learned from customers through the system to improve customer service and communications, expand our ability to analyze data, make operational improvements, and strengthen consumer protections. This preliminary report, which provides insight into the more than 4,800 cases submitted by customers between April 11 and Sept. 30, 2016, will be used to refine the Department’s analysis of system data ahead of publishing the required report in 2017.
“Today’s preliminary report from the feedback system provides important insights that will guide FSA’s engagement with loan servicers, schools, and borrowers,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “Moreover, continued feedback from students and borrowers will help the Department take actions and develop policies that support quality outcomes for all students.”
Additionally, a series of enhancements to the feedback system website are underway to help customers better classify their feedback and to improve the efficiency of the system’s auto-routing functionality in an effort to improve customer response time. The system’s online landing page also was recently modified to more clearly explain to customers what they can expect when submitting feedback, including expected response and resolution timeframes.
Key Findings of the Quarterly Student Aid Data Updates
The quarterly student aid reports are a key part of the FSA Data Center, which was launched in 2009 to increase government transparency by proactively making available information that is useful to the public.
In addition to posting updates, FSA added three new reports related to the federally managed portfolio, which provides greater insight into the portfolio of loans owned by the Department, including Direct Loans (DL) as well as ED-held Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) loans. Initially, reports were by loan program; these new reports combine them into one category of federally managed loans, providing new insights into the large overlap in loan recipients and segmenting the portfolio by loan status, repayment plan, and delinquency status. FSA also released a report that details the number of DL and FFEL borrowers and the dollar amount of their loans that were forgiven under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
Key findings of the data updates include:
- Enrollment in income-driven repayment plans (IDR) is increasing. As of September 2016, nearly 5.6 million DL borrowers were enrolled in IDR plans, a 33 percent increase from September 2015 and a 101 percent increase from September 2014. Nearly 1.2 million ED-held FFEL borrowers are enrolled in Income-Based Repayment and Income-Sensitive Repayment. Combined across the federally managed portfolio, approximately 5.8 million unique borrowers are enrolled in IDR plans; as of September 2016, 895,000 borrowers were enrolled in REPAYE.
- Consistent with recent trends, new defaults and delinquency rates continue to decrease. During the most recent quarter, about 280,000 DL recipients, or about 1.8 percent, entered default, compared to 1.9 percent one year ago. The DL delinquency rate has experienced yearly decreases of 10.6 percent by recipient and 8.5 percent by total dollar balance. The ED-held FFEL delinquency rate has experienced yearly decreases of 12.1 and 12.9 percent for recipients and volume, respectively.
- Tracking shows borrowers are moving toward public service loan forgiveness. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) permits DL borrowers—who make 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan, while working full-time for a qualifying employer—to have the remainder of their balance forgiven. Although no borrower will be eligible for forgiveness under this program until October 2017, the Department introduced a voluntary Employment Certification Form in January 2012 to help borrowers track their progress toward meeting PSLF requirements. The report shows that through Sept. 30, 2016, about 1.1 million forms have been submitted, and of those, about two-thirds have preliminary certification.
To access the full set of data released today, visit the FSA Data Center at www.FSADataCenter.ed.gov.
About the FSA Data Center
The FSA Data Center was launched in 2009 in an effort to increase government transparency by proactively posting information useful to businesses, institutions, the media, and individuals. In addition to the reports listed above, Federal Student Aid regularly posts strategic plans, copies of executed contracts, and school compliance reports, such as Clery Act reports and financial composite scores, on the FSA Data Center. Federal Student Aid is committed to continuing to expand the data sets available on the FSA Data Center in alignment with customer needs.