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Verification

Overview
New in 2017-18
Required Verification Items
Required Documentation
Verification Worksheets
Updating Information
Resources

Overview

Students sometimes make errors when reporting application information, therefore, procedures are in place for verifying the information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ®). Maintaining the integrity of the student aid programs and minimizing improper payments is a major objective of all partners in the financial aid process.

Applications may be selected for verification either randomly, by the Federal Central Processing System (CPS), or by the postsecondary school. Schools are required to have written polices about the Verification process at their school.

The Department of Education’s goal is for a customized approach to verification. Students who are selected for verification are placed in one of three tracking groups. The tracking group determines which FAFSA information must be verified. The Student Aid Report (SAR) or SAR Acknowledgement will display one of the verification flags and an asterisk is printed next to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to identify students who have been selected for verification by the CPS. A comment in the Student section on the output document tells the applicant they will need to provide documentation to their school.

Refer to chapter 4 of the FSA Application and Verification Guide (AVG) for detailed information about the required policies and procedures, information to be verified, exclusions to verification, explanation of acceptable documentation for each tracking group, updating information and making disbursements.  

New in 2017-18

  • Refer to the April 24 DCL: GEN-17-04 regarding the alternative documentation that colleges can apply to both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA processing and verification cycles until the IRS DRT is available. 
  • The 2017-18 verification tracking groups are V1, V4, and V5. Tracking groups V2, V3 and V6 are reserved for FSA use only.
  • Verification of SNAP benefits and child support paid was removed from Tracking Group (V4).  If selected in V4, and applicant must verify high school completion and identity/statement of educational purpose.
  • Verification of the Household Resources Group (V6) and the verification of Other Untaxed Income was eliminated. Tracking group V6 is now for FSA use only.
  • The documentation used to verify the following FAFSA items for 2016-17 may be used for 2017-18 verification if that documentation is acceptable according to the 2017-18 Federal Register notice of April 1, 2016.  In addition, refer to Use of documentation from the 2016-17 award year section in the FSA Handbook - Application and Verification Guide on page AVG-82.   

Required Verification Items

Applicants selected for verification are placed in one of three tracking groups (V1, V4, or V5). The tracking group determines which FAFSA information must be verified for the applicant. The list below are among the items that must be verified when an application is selected for verification by the CPS.

  • Adjusted Gross Income, U.S. Taxes and other tax data (See the SFA Handbook for information about how the IRS Data Retrieval Process can be used and other documentation to verify these items)
  • Income earned from work (if a non-tax filer)
  • Tax-exempt interest income
  • Untaxed portions of IRA distributions and pensions
  • IRA deductions and payments
  • Educations credits
  • Number in Household Size
  • Number of Household Members Enrolled as a Student at Least Half-Time
  • High School Completion status
  • Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose

Schools may select applicants for verification other than those selected by the CPS. A school is not required to verify any or all of the FAFSA information for applicants it selects for verification. A school may identify acceptable documentation for school-selected applicants in accordance with consistently applied school policies but they must use the documentation required by the Department for applicants selected by the CPS. School-selected applications are considered selected for verification therefore the same rules for CPS-selected applications apply regarding deadlines, tolerances and disbursements.

Required Documentation

Refer to the Resources section below for links to a list of the accepted documentation for Verification.

Verification Worksheets

The Department of Education will not provide a verification worksheet for 2017-18, but does provide suggested text for each of the required verification items. A school may use the suggestions or create their own worksheet and text to collect documentation. However, the exact Federal Register language is required for the Statement of Education Purpose for applicants selected for Verification Groups V4 and V5.

Updating Information

Applicants selected for verification must update information as of the date the application was submitted. Applicants not selected for verification cannot update FAFSA information concerning income or assets for changes occurring after the filing of the original application.

  • All Applicants – must update dependency status and FAFSA information throughout the award year except when the update is caused by a change in the student’s marital status. (See the SFA Handbook for guidance on Professional Judgment.)
  • All Applicants selected by the CPS for verification – must update the household size and number in college to be correct as of the date of verification unless the change is due a change in the student’s marital status.

Any conflicting information that the school becomes aware of must be resolved and verified. Schools must complete verification before exercising Professional Judgment to adjust any values that are used to calculate the EFC. Using Professional Judgment does not require the school to verify applications that have not been selected.

Resources

The Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website includes links to information and guidance related to the administration and processing of Title IV programs. The following Verification related links are just a few resources available at IFAP. Users can select e-Announcements and Dear Colleague Letters by type or by year.