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Natural Disaster Guidance and Regulatory Relief

Natural Disaster Guidance and Regulatory Relief


Publication Date: 8/28/2020

NASFAA would like to remind schools in the areas affected by natural disasters about existing guidance regarding the impact of a “major disaster” on the administration of the Title IV student assistance programs.

Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-08 and its attachment are intended to help Title IV student financial aid recipients and their families who are affected by a federally declared major disaster.

It supplements all information in the FSA Handbook and supersedes guidance included in previous Dear Colleague Letters, including GEN-10-16, FP-10-06, GEN-05-17, and GEN-04-04. Institutions with any questions or concerns can contact the Research and Customer Care Center at 1-800-433-7327 or use this form to provide the Department of Education with the requested information.

In events when the President declares a disaster, the Department of Education (ED) provides general guidance for regulatory relief to students, institutions, lenders, guaranty agencies, and their servicers in administering the federal student financial aid programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended.

Unless stated otherwise, the regulatory relief described in the Dear Colleague Letter applies to all recipients of Title IV aid and their families who at the time of a disaster were residing in, employed in, or attending an institution located in a federally-declared disaster area in the United States. An institution experiencing a more localized disaster or an institution with a large number of eligible noncitizens who are from a country experiencing a significant natural disaster may seek relief from its School Participation Division.

For affected institutions, the guidance states that a Title IV program participant that does not carry out an otherwise required action in administering program aid must document that fact and indicate which alternative procedures, if any, were used. If an emergency prevents an institution from routine operations, that institution should contact Federal Student Aid at 1 (800) 433-7327 or by e-mail at

In addition, the Department’s National Disaster Information page on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website provides further information including resources for students, parents, and borrowers.

Most importantly, to those affected, NASFAA staff and Board of Directors send you our thoughts and prayers for your safety and well-being. NASFAA staff will be available by phone and email, or via AskRegs, to answer any questions or provide guidance to those dealing with Title IV administration in a natural disaster zone.


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