Date code effort delays Education loan project

The year 2000 problem is hindering the Education Department’s efforts to integrate
systems that administer student loans.

“The year 2000 problem is diverting my people resources and diluting my financial
resources from integrating the delivery system,” said Jerry Russomano, director of
program systems service at Education. “Fixing the date code problem in our systems is
taking an inordinate amount of time.”

Although Education’s systems will be year 2000-ready by March, the department
would rather spend time and money on its Easy Access for Students and Institutions
initiative, known as Project EASI, he said.

Through the $400 million Project EASI, Education is re-engineering a group of systems
it uses to manage its Title 4 program of government loans and grants for post-secondary

The department’s information technology workers want to define the functions for
each system, map out an integration plan and begin the work, Russomano said.

“Although the computer systems work well independently, they are not well
integrated,” Russomano said. “The delivery system would be more efficient if all
the computer systems were integrated.” But Education has not been able to get past
the planning stage of the project, he said.

Title 4 aid has been available since the 1960s. The department began using computers to
handle the accounts in the 1970s, Russomano said.

The Central Processing System (CPS), the Family Federal Education Loan system (FFEL),
the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and the Direct Loan System (DLS) are the
core systems.

“Project EASI will define a new set of processes for the future,” Russomano
said. “This will include a new set of systems, which may mean replacing some of the
systems in the delivery system.”

CPS and FFEL are the oldest of the central system and run Cobol code written in the
’70s, Russomano said. CPS handles financial aid applications and determines student
eligibility. FFEL tracks defaulted loans issued by private lenders approved by Education.

NSLDS and DLS are newer. NSLDS tracks loans after students receive them. receive
further loans.

Education created DLS to directly approve loans for students.

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