News: Financial Aid

What’s Next for Federal Student Aid’s Next Gen Initiative

Friday, December 13, 2019  
Posted by: Kim Cook, Executive Director
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The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) unveiled many new tools and developments during its annual training conference earlier this month in Reno, Nevada. One of the biggest announcements was an update on the Next Gen Digital and Customer Care Program, part of a broader initiative to simplify the process of applying for, managing, and repaying federal financial aid.

The Next Gen Digital and Customer Care Program will launch the foundation for significant improvements to the customer experience, including a consolidated digital platform, a standardized customer care platform, and a personalized marketing and communications platform. The enhancements seek to address current customer pain points including unconnected entry points (multiple logins and information sources), making financial commitments without fully understanding loan concepts and repayment responsibilities, and lack of support within the FSA website.

StudentAid.gov, the new consolidated website, will provide one front-end platform where users can create an account (FSA ID), look at their personalized dashboard with customer account information, use the Informed Borrower tool, review their personalized aid summary, simulate loan repayment, and make a payment. Some of these tools will begin with a pilot program offered to a subset of borrowers.

Graphic: Office of Federal Student Aid

The first of two tools to watch for is the Informed Borrower Tool that all 2020-21 borrowers will need to certify they have used. (How/where that will happen has yet to be determined, so stay tuned for updates as we learn more.) The tool presents financial literacy content as well as an overview of how much debt customers have accrued and how much more aid they are eligible to receive.

Graphic: Office of Federal Student Aid

The second tool, Aidan, is a virtual assistant. Currently in the early design stages, we anticipate that the tool will provide support to students, eliminating the need to go to a non-FSA website in search of answers.

When the site first launches, the virtual assistant (Aidan) will only be available to approximately 10% of authenticated users. As Aidan gets “smarter” and learns more, it will become available to more users.

Photo: Kim Cook, during the 2019 FSA Training Conference

NCAN will continue to work closely with FSA to provide updates to our members on the development and rollout of these new tools. Watch Success Digest and our blog for news in the coming weeks.

For additional developments on the financial aid front, check out this article on the biggest FAFSA-related news from the FSA Traning Conference, by NCAN Director of Technical Assistance MorraLee Keller.

You can review the slide decks from the FSA Training Conference sessions that covered the Next Gen initiative: