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Financial Aid

Office of Federal Student Aid Looking to Revamp Tech and Operations

The Federal Student Aid Next Generation Financial Services Environment is a new initiative tasked with helping the Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) manage over a trillion dollars in student loans. Initially, the department is looking to modernize its technical and operational architecture to provide flexibility in order to expand and support other financial services.

The FSA deals with more than 18 million students applying for federal aid every year and has over 42 million customers across the student aid lifecycle. The office's lending portfolio is continuing to grow by 7 percent every year, which is driven by nearly $100 billion annual disbursements across more than 17 million loan originations.

The FSA is responsible for student aid processing and servicing including customer service, loan counseling, loan consolidation, repayment plan adjustments and quality control. There are nine total services provided by the office that each have its own proprietary branding.

"The separate engagement layers, contact centers, and back-end processing operations limit FSA branding opportunities and increases customer confusion and operational complexity. Across service providers, data management and cybersecurity practices are inconsistent, siloed, and are not optimized," according to backgrounder documents for the initiative. The fragmented landscape means that there are inconsistent customer experiences, limited branding opportunities for the FSA and increased operational complexity and inefficiency.

To improve the FSA Business Operations, the office is looking to enable easier, more seamless customer interactions with the FSA through an enterprise-wide, FSA-brand, omni-channel platform that allow FSA to maintain a relationship with customers throughout the customer lifecycle. This Future State Core Platform must support adaptability, flexibility and ongoing innovation, integrations with existing and future FSA applications and adherence to and monitoring for changes in laws and regulations. The solution also needs to demonstrate robust cybersecurity protections and features to protect customer data and use FSA's chosen identity and access management solutions.

A number of contractors have already advanced through the first stage of bidding for the NextGen solutions, including General Dynamics, IBM, Accenture, Infosys and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The solutions include a transitional platform, the NexGen Future State Core Platform and the NextGen Business Process Operations.

More information on the NexGen solicitations can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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