JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Verification

Overview
Required Verification Items
Required Documentation
Suggested Text
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 the FSA Handbook (Application and Verification Guide, Chapter 4) 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.

Required Verification Items

Applicants selected for verification are placed in one of three tracking groups (V-1, V-4, or V-5). The tracking group determines which FAFSA information must be verified for the applicant. Among the items that must be verified when an application is selected for verification by the CPS are those listed below. Tracking Groups V-2, V-3 and V-6 are reserved by the Department of Education. Refer to the Applications and Information to be Verified and Documentation portions of the 2021-22 FSA Handbook and the September 3, 2020 Federal Register for details regarding items to be verified and acceptable documentation in the 2021-22 academic year.

V-1 Standard Verification Group

Tax Filers
Adjusted Gross Income
U.S. Income Tax Paid
Untaxed Portions of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Distributions
Untaxed Portions of Pensions
IRA Deductions and Payments
Tax Exempt Interest Income
Education Tax Credits

Nontax Filers
Income Earned from Work

Tax Filers and Nontax Filers
Number of Household Members
Number in College

V-4 Custom Verification Group

High School Completion Status
Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose (institutions must use the exact language as provided in Appendix A of the September 25, 2020 electronic announcement – 2021-2022 Verification Suggested Text Package)

V-5 Aggregate Verification Group

Tax Filers
Adjusted Gross Income
U.S. Income Tax Paid
Untaxed Portions of Individual Retirement Account
(IRA) Distributions
Untaxed Portions of Pensions
IRA Deductions and Payments
Tax Exempt Interest Income
Education Tax Credits

Nontax Filers
Income Earned from Work

Tax Filers and Nontax Filers
Number of Household Members
Number in College
High School Completion Status
Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose (institutions must use the exact language as provided in Appendix A of the September 25, 2020 electronic announcement – 2021-2022 Verification Suggested Text Package)

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 of Education for applicants selected by the CPS. School-selected applications are considered selected for verification and, therefore, the same rules for CPS-selected applications apply regarding deadlines, tolerances and disbursements.

Required Documentation

Refer to the Resources section below for the link to information about documentation that may be accepted for Verification.

Suggested Text

The Department of Education provides 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 language provided in Appendix A of the September 25, 2020 electronic announcement – 2021-2022 Verification Suggested Text Package is required for the Statement of Educational Purpose for applicants selected for Verification Groups V-4 and V-5.

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 FSA 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.
  • Financial Aid Officers (FAA) ONLY can make IRS-related changes to data submitted via IRS DRT.

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 FSA Partner Connect – Knowledge Center 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 the Knowledge Center. Users can filter electronic announcements and Dear Colleague Letters by year.