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|Frequently Asked Questions|
About the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
User ID questions
Frequently referenced Department of Education documentation
Frequently asked questions regarding NSLDS data
1. What is NSLDS?
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the national database of information about loans and grants awarded to students under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. NSLDS provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and grants during their complete life cycle, from aid approval through disbursement, repayment, deferment, delinquency, and closure.
2. What are the sources for the information held in the NSLDS database?
Information and data for NSLDS is received from the following sources:
3. How often is the information and data updated on the NSLDS system?
For a specific organization's loan reporting schedule, search for the organization using the Data Provider Schedule link on the Org tab. GAs report loan information at least monthly, many, more frequently. Schools or their servicers report Perkins loan information monthly. Schools or their servicers report overpayments within 30 days of discovery of the overpayment. The DCS and DLS report information weekly. COD reports information daily on Pell, SMART and ACG grants. Schools and guaranty agencies also report enrollment at least monthly.
4. Can I update loan information and personal identifiers online?
For almost all users, the answer is ''No.'' Schools do not have the ability to update loans or personal identifiers online. Only data providers can update loan related information, usually through their regular submittals to NSLDS. However, limited users from a GA can update loan related information online.
5. What section of the site can I use to satisfy the FAT requirement?
The FATs (Financial Aid Transcripts) are no longer a requirement. With postscreening and the introduction of the transfer monitoring process, schools are no longer required to respond to requests for paper FATs.
6. How can I suggest improvements or changes to the site?
We encourage your comments. Please call the NSLDS Customer Support Center at 1-800-999-8219 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 9:00 pm ET or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. When is the NSLDS web site available?
The NSLDS web site is available from 6am Monday (Eastern Time) to 7pm Saturday. Typically, the site is also available from 7pm Saturday to 5am Sunday and from 11am Sunday to 6pm Sunday, although outages may occur for system maintenance.
8. How can I contact the NSLDS Customer Support Center if I'm a foreign school?
Callers in locations without access to 800 numbers may call 785-838-2141 (this is not a toll free number).
9. Is the site secure?
Yes. The first step is the use of a secure browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 7.x or above. If you are having difficulties with your browser and your browser supports compatibility mode, you can attempt turning on compatibility mode by opening the browser, navigating to the Menu bar, selecting Tools and clicking Compatibility View as a remedy. Certain browsers and certain computers have the ability to communicate securely by scrambling the information as it passes across the Internet. The method of communication is called SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer. We require the use of a secure browser before a connection can be made to NSLDS. After you reach us using the secure browser, the information is also scrambled again to ensure only authorized NSLDS users can read it. The security of the system should always be your number one priority.
10. Am I charged for using the site?
The Department of Education does not charge for access to the site. Your Internet service provider (ISP), however, may charge for Internet access.
11. Can I use another browser besides Microsoft Internet Explorer?
Yes, but the site is designed to be used with Microsoft Internet Explorer. The System Requirements page identifies the specific versions recommended. The Web pages may not display or function correctly with other browsers.
12. Can I use a different version of Microsoft Internet Explorer?
Yes, but the site is designed to be used with specific versions of Internet Explorer. The System Requirements page identifies the recommended versions. The Web pages may not display or function correctly with a version not listed on the System Requirements page.
13. How long can I be inactive before the site automatically logs me off?
For security reasons, you will be logged off if you are inactive (you do not use your mouse or keyboard) for 30 minutes. Never leave the NSLDS Web site open on an unattended computer. You are personally responsible to make sure that access to the site is always secured.
14. Why am I experiencing a slow response?
There can be several reasons why a user may experience a slow response time. First, you may be connected to the site by a slow modem. If this is the case, upgrading to a faster modem is highly recommended. If you are using the site during peak usage time (around 10 am weekdays) you might consider using the site during off-peak hours when response times should be faster.
15. When the site tells me that it is not responding, what should I do?
You are probably using the site during a period of high usage. It is recommended that you try the site at a non-peak time. If the problem persists, call the NSLDS Customer Support Center at 1-800-999-8219 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 9:00 pm ET.
16. Why are the graphics or pictures not appearing?
You may have the graphics or picture option setting on your browser turned off. Consult your browser's Help for details on setting this option.
17. Why do the pictures and graphics appear washed out or fuzzy?
There are a few reasons why this may happen. First, you may have your display set to a minimal number of colors. Also, you should have your display set at the highest possible resolution possible. We recommend a resolution of at least 800x600.
18. Why can't I view the entire page on my PC?
Some pages are too large to be viewed entirely on one screen. However, you can increase the amount of a Web page that you can see by setting your display to maximum resolution.
19. Why does my session crash periodically?
Session crashes are usually caused by problems with the user's PC. This can be especially true if the user has an older computer with a slow processor and a small amount of memory. We recommend closing all other applications when using your browser in order to free system memory. If this does not work, you should reboot your computer and try again. You may want to consider adding memory to your PC and removing applications from your start-up file.
20. When my computer crashes, how can I re-establish connection to the site? Do I need to call someone to log me off?
Just log on to the site again. Your previous session is automatically disconnected. You do not need to call someone to log you off.
21. Why are pages being displayed with previously viewed content?
Your browser can store copies of previously visited pages in a cache file on your computer. This means that pages may be redisplayed from the cache with old content rather than being displayed with the requested information. The caching of pages is dependent on the cache setting in your browser configuration. Refreshing can be forced by using the browser's Refresh/Reload button; this requests the new information from NSLDS and ignores the computer's cache. Clearing the browser's cache can relieve this problem. Also see the System Requirements page for details on configuring your browser.
22. How do I clear the cache?
IE 8.x, 9.x, 10.x, 11.x
23. Why is there no link to download Netscape?
As of March 1, 2008 AOL discontinued support of the Netscape client products. For this reason a link to download the browser has been removed from this site. If you currently are using Netscape to access NSLDS, you can continue with this browser, however, it is no longer supported.
24. Who can have access to the site?
Access to NSLDS information is granted to individuals whose specific job responsibilities include at least one of the following activities:
25. Can someone else in my office use my user ID and password to access the site?
No. User IDs and passwords are for your individual use only, and are confidential ED information. You must not disclose your password to anyone, and you must take the necessary steps to prevent anyone from gaining knowledge of your password. Use of an NSLDS user ID by anyone other than the user is a security violation and the user ID will be terminated. Security violations can cause an entire organization to lose access to NSLDS.
26. Can our organization sign up multiple users for NSLDS online access?
Yes. If you have multiple users with job responsibilities that have a need for NSLDS access, the Primary Destination Point Administrator (PDPA) can sign them up at fsawebenroll.ed.gov. There is no limit to the number of users by organization.
27. Can a servicer access the site?
Yes. In order for a servicer to enroll for NSLDS online access, the school authorizing official must sign the application made through fsawebenroll.ed.gov. The authorizing official should never approve a user for access to NSLDS unless this person is an employee of the school or of the servicer which the school has contracted to perform NSLDS functions. It is the institution, not the servicer who is ultimately responsible for the timely and accurate reporting of the data to NSLDS.
28. Do students have access to the information?
Students have access to their own information on the NSLDS Student Access Web site, www.nslds.ed.gov. A student will need to create and use his/her FSA User ID and password to log in. Please instruct students to this site so that they may directly view their personal student loan information. Never ask students for their FSA user ID or password and remind them that they must not share their FSA User ID or password with any entity. Like your user ID and password, the student FSA User ID or password is private and personal.
29. Can I give this information to students?
Yes. It is permissible to show or print a student's information to/for that student. However, this information is protected by the Privacy Act and care must be taken with any printed Personally Identifiable Information (PII). We strongly suggest that you verify (via a driver's license or other identification) that the student receiving the printed NSLDS information is in fact the student identified on the printed material. Keep identity theft in mind at all times.
30. What happens if my Title IV loan is in default?
Your request for online access to NSLDS is denied if you have a loan currently on NSLDS that has been reported as in default or as discharged due to death. Additionally, NSLDS runs a program monthly to identify any current online users for whom a loan has been reported in a default or discharge due to death status. Persons identified will have their online access revoked. Once the loans are out of default you will have to re-apply for access.
31. What is User Access Verification?
After entering your user ID and password, you are presented with the User Access Verification page. NSLDS must protect the personally identifiable information (PII) in the database and this page allows NSLDS to detect automated users who attempt to access the system without authorization. A box will display with letters and numbers that may be slightly distorted. Follow the instructions and enter what you see in the blank box. Then, click Submit Response
32. What happens if I can't read what is in the box?
If you have difficulty viewing the current image, click the refresh button on your internet browser for a new image to display. If you hit enter without attempting to replicate what you see, it will count as an ''attempt''. You will have three attempts to enter the image correctly in order to gain access to the data in NSLDS.
33. What happens if I have tried three times and failed?
The User Access Verification tool, called CAPTCHA, will lock out a user that has failed to correctly enter the image displayed after 3 attempts. This prevents unauthorized users from gaining access to the personally identifiable information (PII) in NSLDS. If you tried unsuccessfully 3 times you will receive a message that says ''You have failed the verification test. Your account has been disabled. Please contact the Customer Support Center at (800) 999-8219 for further assistance. Callers in locations without access to 800 numbers may call 785-838-2141 (this is not a toll free number).''
34. What happens if I am locked out from the User Access Verification?
Your user ID will be inoperable and you will not be able to gain access to NSLDS. Call the Customer Support Center immediately at (800) 999-8219 to discuss your situation with a customer support representative. Explain what has happened. Your identity will be verified and your attempts will be evaluated to determine if you can regain access.
35. Can I get re-instated after being locked out from the User Access Verification?
Call the Customer Support Center immediately at (800) 999-8219. The customer support representative will verify your identity. The situation will be evaluated to determine if you can regain access.
36. What is the duration of a password?
Federal Student Aid User ID (FSA ID) passwords expire and must be changed every 90 days.
37. How will I know to change my password?
A warning that your password needs to be changed will be issued 15 days before expiration. The password can be changed anytime during those 15 days using the ''Change Password'' link on the FSA Login page.
38. What is the format of a password, and how long should it be?
39. What passwords are acceptable?
You must not disclose your password to anyone, and you must take the necessary steps to prevent anyone from gaining knowledge of your password. Passwords must be unique and may not be the same as your previous five passwords. Unauthorized passwords include:
40. Do passwords and user IDs expire?
The password for any FSA ID not accessed in 90 days is automatically expired and will require a password change. Any organization code associated with a FSA ID not used during a 365 day period will be removed and will no longer be available as a selection when accessing NSLDS. The user will have to contact their Primary Destination Point Administrator to reapply for access to the organization code which was automatically removed.
41. Are logon attempts limited?
FSA IDs will be locked after 3 unsuccessful logon attempts and cannot be used for 30 minutes. After automatically becoming unlocked after 30 minutes, users can try again or select ''forgot password'' link at the FSA Logon page and answer the challenge questions to reset the password. Only contact the Customer Support Center if you forgot your challenge questions or need help with the following:
42. What if the information in NSLDS is incorrect?
You should contact the data provider included in the NSLDS record and provide them with information that assists the data provider in its investigation and possible correction of the errors. If the data provider is unable or unwilling to correct the data, contact the NSLDS Customer Support Center.
43. What if information is missing from NSLDS?
Due to time lapses in reporting, the most current information may not be contained in NSLDS at the time of inquiry. If the student's loan information is not available within 45 days of disbursement, you may want to contact the Guaranty Agency, Direct Loan Servicing Center or the student's school.
44. How do I resolve duplicate overpayment debts reported to NSLDS?
We have identified a small number of duplicate overpayment debts in NSLDS. These duplicates show the same overpayment as being held by a school and also by the Department's Debt Collection Service (DCS). They occur when the identifiers for the overpayment are not properly reported and matched. The method described below is the fastest and most efficient way to update a student's record if he or she is being denied aid as a result of a duplicate overpayment debt.
If you come across one of these cases when determining eligibility for an applicant, and you are certain that the two overpayments are exactly the same, you may pay the student Title IV aid once you have resolved the overpayment issue and the student is otherwise eligible.
If you find one of these duplicates you should contact the school that originally reported the overpayment (contact information is available on the NSLDS Web pages) and inform them of the problem. That school (or you, if you identified the problem with one of your own overpayments) should, after confirming that the two overpayments in NSLDS are duplicates of each other, delete the school-reported overpayment using the NSLDS Overpayment Delete Confirmation page.
Before deleting an overpayment debt, the school must:
If both of the conditions above are true, the overpayment debt can be deleted as follows:
A new ISIR is generated and sent to all schools listed on the FAFSA®.
If you have any questions or need assistance to delete an overpayment debt, please contact the NSLDS Customer Support Center at 1-800-999-8219 or via email at email@example.com.
45. What if no contacts are listed on the Organization Contact list page?
If you need to reach a data provider and there are no contacts listed, call the NSLDS Customer Support Center at 1-800-999-8219. They may be able to assist you. The information on this page is dependent upon the organization providing current names, phone numbers, and other contact information. We encourage you to maintain accurate contact information and help encourage other financial aid professionals to enter their organization's contact information.
46. How do we update our Organizational Contact information?
You can update the currently listed contact information by clicking on the number next to the function that needs to be changed. Follow the Help Page Instructions found by clicking the Help Icon ''?'' You can also add contacts for additional functions by clicking the ADD button on the Contact List Page. NSLDS encourages all schools to list at least a primary contact and a contact for Enrollment Reporting as these contacts are used for email notifications.
47. Why does the printout look different from the Web page?
Your browser formats content according to the size of the printed page, not the size of the on-screen window. Text is word-wrapped and graphics are repositioned to accommodate paper size.
48. Why does my browser sometimes crash when printing a Web page?
Sometimes Web pages contain complex graphics. Complex graphic images may stress the printer driver beyond what it can handle. Usually, the printer manufacturer is aware of such a problem, and may already have an updated printer driver available for you. Check your printer manufacturer's Web site for an updated driver. Installing the latest driver should solve the printing problems for you.
49. Where can I find NSLDS reference material?
You can find NSLDS reference material on the IFAP Web site by selecting ''Processing Resources'' from the home page and ''NSLDS Reference Materials'' from the Processing Resources page. Alternatively, you can select this link to get there. The material is organized by year and publication type.
50. Where can I find the ISIR Guide?
You can find the ISIR Guide on the IFAP Web site by selecting ''Publications'' from the home page and the ''ISIR Guide'' link under ''Processing Publications'' from the Publications page. Alternatively, you can select this link to get there. The ISIR Guide and related updates are organized by award year.
51. Where can I find the FSA Handbook?
You can find the FSA Handbook on the IFAP Web site by selecting the ''Current Handbook'' link from the home page under the ''Handbook'' section on the right-hand side margin of the page.
52. Where can I find the NSLDS Newsletters?
You can find the NSLDS Newsletters by selecting the News & Events link on the menu bar of the NSLDS Professional Access Web site login page. Selecting this link will open a new window and take you to the NSLDS Newsletters on IFAP. You can also find the NSLDS Newsletters on the IFAP Web site by selecting ''Processing Resources'' from the home page, followed by the ''NSLDS Reference Materials'' link from the Processing Resources page and the ''NSLDS Newsletters'' link from the iLibrary - NSLDS Reference Materials page. Alternatively, you can select this link to get there. For archived copies of the Newsletters select the ''here'' link found at the top of this page. The Newsletters are organized in descending order by publication date and newsletter number.
53. Where can I find the NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Guide and NSLDS User Guide for Transfer Student Monitoring?
You can find the NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Guide and the NSLDS User Guide for Transfer Student Monitoring on the IFAP Web site by selecting ''Processing Resources'' from the home page, followed by the ''NSLDS Reference Materials'' link from the Processing Resources page and the ''NSLDS User Documentation'' link from the iLibrary - NSLDS Reference Materials page. Alternatively, you can select this link to get there. The Guides are organized in descending order by publication date.
54. Where can I find the Transfer Student Monitoring / Financial Aid History Processes and Batch File Layouts?
You can find the Transfer Student Monitoring/Financial Aid History Processes and Batch File Layouts on the IFAP Web site by selecting ''Processing Resources'' from the home page, followed by the ''NSLDS Reference Materials'' link from the Processing Resources page and the ''Transfer Student / Financial History Processes and Batch File Layouts'' link from the iLibrary - NSLDS Reference Materials page. Alternatively, you can select this link to get there. The Guides are organized in descending order by publication date.
55. Where can I find a copy of the TEACH Grant Counseling Guides (Initial and Subsequent Counseling and Exit Counseling Guides)?
You can find the TEACH Grant Counseling Guides (Initial and Subsequent and Exit Counseling Guides) at the ATS (Agreement to Serve) Web site. Schools may use these counseling guides when completing in person counseling with their students. Students may wish to print the Initial and Subsequent Counseling guide so that they have a copy of the material covered during their counseling session.
If a school's eligibility to participate in Title IV aid changes, it is the school's responsibility to update properly all students on its Enrollment Reporting roster before discontinuing participation in the Enrollment Reporting process. Please review the NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Guide for enrollment reporting and associated questions. The ERG also provides details on the enrollment reporting process and Web pages that allow schools to update enrollment data in real time.
The Federal Student Aid Handbook discusses the eligibility requirements for students and parent borrowers and the aid administrator's responsibility to ensure that recipients qualify for their aid awards.
Due to the variance of loan status codes please refer to the ISIR Guide, Appendix C. The ISIR Guide assists Financial Aid Administrators (FAAs) in interpreting student information on the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which includes key processing results and National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) financial aid history information.
There are instances when NSLDS cannot account for all of the outstanding balance of a FFEL Consolidation Loan. NSLDS reports such amounts as ''unallocated'' on the NSLDS Web site and ISIRSs. A comprehensive discussion on this topic can be found in the NSLDS Newsletter 11.
Please refer to Dear Colleague Letter GEN 08-08 for aggregate loan limits effective as of July 1, 2008.
To protect the privacy of recipients of Title IV aid, NSLDS users are required to enter the SSN, first name, and date of birth for a student record they are trying to review. A Comment Code 138 on the ISIR is an indication that the FAFSA® applicant's SSN was found in NSLDS but the system could not confirm that it belonged to the applicant. School users can be assisted in the resolution of these issues by contacting the NSLDS Customer Support Center at 1-800-999-8219, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.
Dear Colleague Letter GEN 96-13 states that NSLDS is to be used for purposes of determining student eligibility for Federal Title IV student assistance. The letter included a series of questions and answers regarding the data in NSLDS. The ISIR Comment Code 138 is addressed in Q & A 26. The answer states, ''the school must determine if the existing NSLDS record is that of the applicant and, if so, must use the information in the NSLDS when determining eligibility for Title IV aid''. If the school determines that the SSN in NSLDS is for the applicant and concludes ''that the failure to match on name or date of birth is because the student did not complete the application properly...it should instruct the applicant to make any necessary corrections to the CPS record, using the SAR or ISIR correction process. However, the school need not await the results of those corrections before using the reviewed data in the NSLDS for determining the student's eligibility.''
If the opposite is true, the answers states ''If the school, after reviewing the data in the NSLDS, determines that it is not the applicant's financial aid history, it can continue to process the application assuming that the student had not received any relevant Title IV aid.''
To review the complete Question and Answer use this link: GEN 96-13, Q & A 26.
Dear Colleague Letter GEN 96-13 states that NSLDS is to be used for purposes of determining student eligibility for Federal Title IV student assistance. The letter included a series of questions and answers regarding the data in NSLDS. This situation is addressed with Question 37:
''Q37 Must the school make certain that any default statuses or other negative information in the NSLDS be cleared in the NSLDS before it can disburse Title IV student aid?
A37 No, if the school can document that the student is eligible for Title IV aid despite such negative information contained in the NSLDS, it may award and disburse aid. An example would be if the NSLDS Financial Aid History page of the SAR or ISIR shows that the student has a defaulted loan, but the school has obtained documentation from the holder of the loan that the borrower had made 'satisfactory arrangements to repay.' This guidance is consistent with current requirements regarding the resolution of problems reported to a school by the CPS on a SAR or ISIR.''
See also Dear Colleague Letter GEN 96-13 GEN 96-13, Q & A 37.
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