Laws & Guidance HIGHER EDUCATION
Program Integrity Questions and Answers
Verification - Archived Guidance


Archived Guidance
beginning with the 2012-2013 award year

Verification Q&A | Program Integrity Q&A

Questions on this topic are divided into the following categories:

Introductory Verification Questions (IVQ)

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General Questions (VER)

VER-Q1. Where can I find guidance on the verification requirements?

VER-A1. The following resources provide guidance on the verification requirements:

2012-2013 Award Year

2013-2014 Award Year

2014-2015 Award Year

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Applicants Selected for Verification by the Department (DS)

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Applicants Selected for Verification by the Institution (IS)

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Verification Items (VI)

VI-Q5. Must an institution complete verification of all FAFSA information identified by the Secretary in the July 13, 2011, Federal Register notice for selected applicants who are eligible for either of the alternate expected family contribution (EFC) calculations: Automatic Zero EFC (Auto Zero EFC) or Simplified Needs Test (SNT)?

VI-A5. Generally, yes for SNT eligible applicants and no for Auto Zero applicants.

The only difference in the EFC calculation for SNT eligible applicants is the elimination of assets and assets are not items that are required to be verified. Therefore, SNT eligible applicants are required to verify all FAFSA information listed in Federal Register notice published July 13, 2011.

For Auto Zero EFC eligible applicants, the information that must be verified varies slightly between those applicants who are dependent and those who are independent.

Auto Zero EFC for a Dependent Applicant Selected for Verification—If the "Automatic Zero EFC Indicator" field on the ISIR is set to "Yes," only the following FAFSA/ISIR information must be verified:

  • The parent’s AGI if the parent(s) was a tax filer;
  • The parent’s income earned from work if the parent(s) was not a tax filer; and
  • The receipt of SNAP benefits (food stamps) by any household member if used to qualify for Auto Zero EFC.

Auto Zero EFC for an Independent Applicant Selected for Verification—If the "Automatic Zero EFC Indicator" field on the ISIR is set to "Yes," only the following FAFSA/ISIR information must be verified:

  • The applicant's (and spouse's, if applicable) AGI if a tax filer;
  • The applicant's (and spouse's, if applicable) income earned from work if not a tax filer;
  • The number of household members to determine if the independent applicant has one or more dependents other than a spouse; and
  • The receipt of SNAP benefits (food stamps) by any household member if used to qualify for Auto Zero EFC.
    [Section 668.56] [Guidance issued 05/04/2012 and applies only to the 2012-2013 award year]

VI-Q7. Must an institution complete verification of all FAFSA information identified in Verification Tracking Groups V1 or V5 even if the selected applicant is eligible for either of the alternate expected family contribution (EFC) calculations: Automatic Zero EFC (Auto Zero EFC) or Simplified Needs Test (SNT)?

VI-A7. Generally, yes for SNT-eligible applicants and no for Auto Zero EFC-eligible applicants.

The only difference in the EFC calculation for SNT-eligible applicants is the elimination of assets, and assets are not required to be verified. Therefore, SNT-eligible applicants who are assigned to Verification Tracking Groups V1 or V5 are required to verify all FAFSA information listed for the Verification Tracking Group they are placed in.

For Auto Zero EFC-eligible applicants placed in Verification Tracking Groups V1 or V5, the information that must be verified varies slightly between those applicants who are dependent and those who are independent.

For dependent applicants, only the following FAFSA/ISIR information must be verified:

  • The parents' AGI if they were tax filers;
  • The parents' income earned from work if they were nontax filers; and
  • The receipt of SNAP benefits (food stamps) by any household member if the receipt of these benefits qualified the applicant for Auto Zero EFC.

For independent applicants, only the following FAFSA/ISIR information must be verified:

  • The applicant's and spouse's AGI if tax filers;
  • The applicant's and spouse's income earned from work if they were nontax filers;
  • The number of household members to determine if the independent applicant has one or more dependents other than a spouse; and
  • The receipt of SNAP benefits (food stamps) by any household member if the receipt of these benefits qualified the applicant for Auto Zero EFC.

In addition to the FAFSA/ISIR information listed above, dependent and independent applicants placed in Verification Tracking Group V5 must also verify their high school completion status and identity/statement of educational purpose. [Section 668.56] [Guidance issued 03/13/2013; revised 7/11/2013 and applies only to the 2013-2014 award year]

VI-Q8. What is the language in the "Statement of Educational Purpose" that institutions must use for students placed in Verification Tracking Groups V4 or V5?

VI-A8. The following Statement of Educational Purpose must be used by an institution for students placed in Verification Tracking Groups V4 or V5, except that the student’s identification number is optional if collected elsewhere on the same page as the statement.

Statement of Educational Purpose

I certify that I [Print Student's Name] am the individual signing this Statement of Educational Purpose and that the federal student financial assistance I may receive will only be used for educational purposes and to pay the cost of attending [Name of Postsecondary Educational Institution] for 2013-2014.

[Student's Signature] [Date]
[Student's ID Number]

For Spanish Speakers:

Declaración de Propósito Educativo

Certifico que yo, [Imprimir Nombre del Estudiante], soy el individuo que firma esta Declaración de Finalidad Educativa y que la ayuda financiera federal estudiantil que yo pueda recibir, sólo será utilizada para fines educativos y para pagar el costo de asistir a [Imprimir Nombre de Institución Educativa Postsecundaria] para 2013-2014.

[Firma del Estudiante] [la Fecha]
[Número de Identificación del Estudiante]

The institution may insert the name of the institution and the student, where indicated, prior to providing the statement to the student.
(Section 668.57) [Guidance issued 03/13/2013; revised 07/11/2013 and applies only to the 2013-2014 award year]

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Updating Applicant’s FAFSA Information (UPD)

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Acceptable Documentation for FAFSA Information Selected for Verification (DOC)

DOC-Q11. In some cases, tax filers who have visited an IRS field office have been provided with a copy of their IRS tax return stamped "official" in lieu of an IRS Tax Return Transcript. May an institution use an IRS tax return that has been stamped "official" by the IRS as a substitute for an IRS Tax Return Transcript to meet the verification requirements?

DOC-A11. An IRS tax return that has an "official" stamp by the IRS is not a substitute for an IRS Tax Return Transcript. However, as provided in the April 16, 2012 Dear Colleague Letter (GEN-12-07), institutions may, until July 15, 2012, accept a signed copy of the relevant (i.e., applicant, spouse, or parent) 2011 IRS Tax Return as acceptable verification documentation for the 2012-2013 award year. After July 15, 2012, or if an institution chooses not to accept the tax return prior to that date, the applicant, spouse or parent must obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript, if unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. [Section 668.57(a)] [Guidance issued 06/21/2012 and applies only to the 2012-2013 award year]

DOC-Q15. What documentation is required for an applicant, parent or spouse who is the victim of identity theft and, as a result, is unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript until the matter has been resolved by the IRS?

DOC-A15. When the IRS determines that a tax filer has been, or likely was, a victim of identity theft, it will not allow that tax filer to obtain tax information through the use of the IRS DRT or to receive an IRS Tax Return Transcript until the matter has been resolved by the IRS. Resolution could take up to a year, depending on the complexity of the case. Therefore, in instances when the tax filer has been the victim of identity theft, the institution may accept for verification purposes a signed copy of the paper IRS income tax return that was filed with the IRS along with additional documentation as follows.

If the tax filer had submitted to the IRS an IRS Form 14039 "Identity Theft Affidavit," a copy of that signed form must be submitted to the institution with the signed copy of the paper tax return. In some instances, the IRS does not require the tax filer to submit an IRS Form 14039, or the tax filer may not have saved a copy of the IRS Form 14039 that was submitted to the IRS. In these instances, the tax filer must submit, in addition to the signed copy of the tax return, either:

  • a statement signed and dated by the tax filer indicating that he or she was a victim of IRS identity theft and that the IRS is investigating the matter. The statement must also indicate that the tax filer submitted a Form 14039 to the IRS, but did not keep a copy of it or that he or she was not required to file the form; or
  • a copy of a police report that may have been filed by the tax filer related to the IRS identify theft. [Section 668.57(d)] [Guidance issued in an Electronic Announcement dated August 21, 2012; revised guidance issued on page 3 in APPENDIX A of the Electronic Announcement dated January 18, 2013 and applies to 2013-2014 and previous award years. Guidance for 2014-2015 is provided in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-14-05]

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Changing Applicant's FAFSA Information (CHD)

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Verification Q&A | Program Integrity Q&A



   
Last Modified: 07/08/2015