The CommonLine℠ Network is a process and set of file specifications, originally developed in 1995, by the National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs (NCHELP) community of service providers (guaranty agencies, lenders, and servicers) and schools to facilitate the electronic processing of the former Federal Family Education Loans (FFELP) and now, exclusively for, Private Education Loans. This process, which has been implemented across the country, enables schools to communicate with a multitude of service providers, in a standardized format, using one software product of the school’s choice.
Any NCHER member or school can participate in the CommonLine℠ Network. Organizations can also become CommonLine-Only Members of NCHER have access to the expanded functionality of CommonLine℠ using alternative loan codes, non-FFEL guarantor codes and service provider IDs. For information about becoming a CommonLine-Standards member, contact NCHER.
The document formats were created to provide a simplified approach and a common format for the electronic exchange of student loan data. The standardized format provides participating organization assurance that data sent or received following these standards will be accepted. These file formats are currently supported by all guarantors and many lenders, servicers, and schools across the country. CommonLine℠ facilitates communication between schools and service providers using common files and simplified processes and provides a single process for FFELP and Private Education Loans.
Further, it enables participants to retain existing school-based software (SBS) while becoming part of common data exchange network and shortens loan processing turn-around times. CommonLine℠ supports multiple options for the disbursement of funds and provides a common mechanism for making loan status changes.
Who Can Participate?
Any National Council of Higher Education Loan Resources (NCHER) member as well as any school can participate in the CommonLine℠ Network. Organizations not wanting to become full NCHER members can also become CommonLine-Standards Members of NCHER to have access to the expanded functionality of CommonLine℠ by registering and using alternative loan codes, non-FFEL guarantor codes and service provider IDs. For information about becoming a CommonLine-Standards member, contact NCHER.
Note: Must be a NCHER Full or CommonLine℠ Standards Member
CommonLine℠ Issue Reporting, Code Lookup & Code Request
Use the toggles below to access the online forms and lookup tools.
CommonLine Code Lookup
The CommonLine Code℠ (NCHER IDs) database is the repository of Alternative Loan Program Codes, Guarantor Codes for FFELP and non-FFELP Loans, and Service Provider codes.
NCHER does not maintain a database of Lender IDs (LIDs) for the former FFEL Program. Previously maintained by the U.S. Department of Education and previously available on the Federal Student Aid website, these codes are no longer available. If you need to research FFEL LIDs, please contact the US Department of Education.
There are also some instances where CommonLine℠ Codes (NCHER IDs) have been requested by service providers, but those loans or products may not yet be available or may have been discontinued. If you are a service provider and have questions about codes that are not displaying for your organization, please contact NCHER directly at (202) 822-2106.
You may search on any combination of the criteria. In the ‘code’ or ‘name’ fields you may put in any portion of the code and the results will contain all of the matching entries in the database. (example: entering “A” in the ‘code’ field returns all of the codes that contain the letter “A”)
CommonLine Code Request
Using this form to request a new CommonLine℠ Code(s):
If you know the code that you wish to use out of your organization’s assigned block, please enter that in the code field. The code name is the name that you want associated with the code to display in the code lookup. The description is additional identifying information that will be placed in the code table for display in the individual code view.
Alternative Loan Program Code: Three-digit alphanumeric codes that are used by lenders of alternative/private loans in field 96 of @1 records in CommonLine℠ 4, field 98 of CommonLine℠ 5, and tag for CommonRecord:CommonLine℠.
Non-FFELP Guarantor Code:Three-digit alphanumeric codes that are used by guarantors of alternative/private loans in field 75 of @1 records in CommonLine℠ 4 and CommonLine℠ 5, and tag for CommonRecord:CommonLine℠.
Service Provider Code: Six or eight-digit alphanumeric codes that are used as the Source ID for those organizations that do not have a six-digit code assigned by ED.
Non-ED Assigned Lender ID: Six-digit numeric codes reported to / registered with NCHER as a means to alleviate multiple entities from using the same lender code. Codes should not begin with a 7, so as to not confuse them with FFELP Servicer Codes.
Please research the code you wish to register to ensure that it is not already in use using our CommonLine℠ Code Lookup in the section above and include the six-digit code in your request. NCHER does not determine these codes for you.
A Note About Lender Codes and Non-ED Assigned Lender IDs:
Since CommonLine was originally developed for FFELP Loans, the fields in the file layouts populated by this code were assigned by the Department of Education to lenders participating in the FFELP program. These six-digit LenderID codes all began with an 8. A handful of marketing codes were also in use by lenders as “dummy codes” (now known as Non-ED Assigned Lender ID (Alt Loans)) and were assigned by lenders and were registered with NCHER (actually named NCHELP at the time) using the first digit of a 5, 6, or 9. ED assigned six-digit servicer codes to loan servicers. These six-digit codes began with a 7. Private education loans at the time typically used the lender code that a lender used with their FFELP loans or sometimes the lender created a Non-ED Assigned Lender ID (Alt Loans). Again, these codes began with a 5, 6, or 9.
Since then, private education loans have become the sole user of CommonLine and the need for Non-ED Assigned Lender ID (Alt Loans) has grown. Non-ED Assigned Lender ID (Alt Loans) are not assigned by NCHER, rather it is the responsibility of the Lender (or their assigns) to register a six-digit code with NCHER after researching using our CommonLine Code Lookup in the section above to determine if the code to be registered is already registered by another entity or is already in use. This registration process serves as a means to alleviate multiple entities from using the same lender code.
These are the only codes that are assigned / registered by NCHER. Your organization must be an NCHER member to have codes changed or assigned
Please do not request FFEL LenderIDs (LIDs) using this form. NCHER does not assign or maintain FFELP Lender or Servicer Codes. Please contact the U.S. Department of Education for the most recently updated list or to request these codes at https://www.fp.ed.gov.
If the service provider that you are looking up is not in the dropdown list, please choose FFELP Lender Code for non-NCHER member or FFELP Servicer Code for non-NCHER member to make your search.
When requesting codes, please remember that you ***MUST be a current NCHER full or CommonLine℠ Standards member*** to assign new codes, to change names on existing codes, or to register codes out or a previously assigned block. All assigned code blocks are forfeited if NCHER membership is not kept current.
NCHER will contact you to confirm your request and to issue your code(s). If you need to contact us with additional information about your code request, please email us at email@example.com.
Please login before requesting CommonLine Codes.
SOC Issue Log Search
An issue may be a proposed text change to the document, a question concerning the content or intent of the document, or a conceptual change to a process.
NCHER Issue Log resolutions are just as enforceable as if the text appears in the documentation manuals for those organizations that require it.
A = the proposed change is accepted.
CAM1 = Common Account Maintenance Version 1
SOC Issue Reporting Form
Please complete all fields and provide as much information as possible. This information will assist the Standards and Operations Committee Teams in formulating a response to your issue. All issues and questions will be assigned a tracking number for you to use in obtaining the current status and resolution of your issue.
CommonLine℠ File Libraries
Documents are available in the File Libraries below for the following areas:
CommonLine℠ r4 and r5 Documentation & File Specifications
The CommonLine℠ Reference Manual and File Specification documents were created by the CommonLine℠ workgroup of the National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER), Standards and Operations Committee (SOC). The document formats were created to provide a simplified approach and a common format for the electronic exchange of student loan data. The standardized format provides participating organization assurance that data sent or received following these standards will be accepted. These file formats are currently supported by all guarantors and many lenders, servicers, and schools across the country.
The CommonLine℠ file specifications are contained in several documents, one for each type of file.
Each document includes the following:
- Implementation Guidelines
- Physical Characteristics
- Processing Information
- File Layouts
- Field descriptions
CommonLine℠ Testing Tools
Tools used to test CommonLine 5 and CRC files for production
CommonRecord CommonLine℠ (CRC) Documentation
The Origination Standards Advisory Team (OSAT) oversees the design and support of a single standard XML-based CommonRecord:CommonLine℠ (CRC), to support multiple loan programs, including FFELP and Private Education (aka Alternative) Loans, eliminate multiple flat files, and provide a simplified process for the submission of financial aid data by schools and their FAMS partner.
Other Electronic Data Exchange Documentation
Other electronic data exchange documentation can be found the Electronic Standards Section of the NCHER e-Library.