By: Gary Byers, FAS Sr. Consultant
The 2022-23 FISAP is due Sept. 29, 2023. Does your institution scramble to reconcile funds to meet the annual deadline? Wouldn’t it be nice to submit an accurate report instead of data that hasn’t been adequately reconciled? By following the advice below, you can have a panic-free experience without having to make corrections after that date. Although the FINAL FISAP edit corrections are not due until Dec. 15, 2023, don’t you have better things to do?
Per the U.S. Department of Education, schools should reconcile FSA financial records monthly (34 CFR 668.166). They recommend reconciling on a more frequent basis during periods of high transaction volume. Some programs require monthly reconciliation (William D. Ford Direct Loan, FSEOG, FWS, and Federal Perkins programs). The more frequently reconciliation is performed, the more likely issues/discrepancies will be identified and can be resolved promptly.
Why do so many institutions procrastinate in reconciling federal funds?
- Not properly trained
- Not a priority with other pressing issues
- Lack of knowledge in the Financial Aid Office and school administration
Schools should work with their administrative software systems specialists to create a program that compares COD student-level data to:
- Student Title IV award information is maintained separately by the Financial Aid office;
- Title IV funds are posted to each student’s account; and
- Report exceptions found during the comparison process.
Common discrepancies that may be identified using COD reports in your institution’s reconciliation process include:
- The recipient’s disbursement data appears in the school’s records for an award amount less than or greater than the amount shown in the COD system, and
- Recipient disbursement data appears on the school’s records but does not appear in the COD system
Per an ED review, schools, where financial aid and business office staff meet monthly when the reports are generated to resolve discrepancies, take hours instead of days to reconcile.
Reconciling federal funds can be a daunting task for educational institutions, but it is a crucial one. By addressing common challenges, implementing best practices, and starting early, you can significantly reduce stress during the fall term and ensure a smoother FISAP submission process. Ultimately, this proactive approach allows you to focus on more important tasks and priorities within your institution.
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