Verification is the process of confirming the accuracy of student reported data on financial aid applications. Only a portion of the student population is selected for verification.
Selection of Applications to be Verified
The FAO verifies those applicants identified by the Department of Education (DOE). In addition, aid administrators may select a student for verification if there is a discrepancy or a condition, which is unusual and warrants investigation. The FAO reserves the right to verify any student it may see fit.
Listed below are certain circumstances where students do not have to complete verification. Counselors must identify and document in the aid folder why the student is not required to complete verification.
1. An applicant who died during the award year.
2. A resident of Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Palau).
3. A student who is incarcerated
4. Applicants whose parents do not live in the United States and cannot be contacted.
5. A student immigrant (however, the student must meet the citizenship requirement).
6. A dependent student whose parents cannot comply because of specified reasons (i.e., parents are deceased, are physically or mentally incapacitated, or the student does not know where the parents reside).
7. A student who does not receive need-based Title IV funds.
Conflicting Information for Non-selected Applicants
Aid administrators are required to resolve any discrepancies discovered in a student's file.
Verification Time Frame
Upon receipt of the FAFSA, a Tracking Letter listing missing items is sent to the student. This letter informs the student of any additional information which is required to complete his/her financial aid file. If the FAO has received DOE information identifying the student as being selected for verification, the tracking items letter requests the appropriate verification documents (i.e., verification form, student and parent tax returns).
Document Collection Procedures
Required documentation items are identified and receipt date is maintained by date stamping all entered paperwork. When documents arrive, the Financial Aid Assistant enters a receipt date on the document. When all required documents are received, the studentís file is considered complete and ready to be packaged. These files are routed to the Assistant Director or Director for verification.
Documentation submitted to the FAO must be legible, appropriate, and have the student's social security number for identification purposes. If the student submits a document which is not legible (i.e., a copy of a tax return in which the income numbers are not identifiable), appropriate (a tax return is requested and the student submits a W-2), or unidentifiable (student submits a copy of the step-parentsí tax return and the last name does not match the student's and there is no student social security number), the documents will be returned and a request for additional documentation is requested.
Processing Time Period
Students are notified that until the missing items are submitted to the FAO, additional processing of their file is not possible.
—Failure to Comply
Students who fail to submit verification documents never become complete; therefore, aid is not awarded for these students.
—Submission After Deadline
Students who submit verification documents very late after the time they were requested will be awarded aid on an availability basis.
Notification of Verification to Applicants
Students are notified that they are selected for verification on the Student Aid Report (SAR).
Verification of Data Elements
Centenary College systematically verifies only those data elements required by the federal government. However, Aid Administrators are free to ask for additional information if further investigation is needed to resolve a discrepancy.
Adjusted Gross Income
Adjusted Gross Income is verified by comparing a copy of the student, spouse, or parent income tax return transcript or Verification Worksheet to federal data. Total discrepancies of all dollar amounts outside of tolerance level of $25 must be corrected before further processing.
U.S. Income Tax Paid
U.S. Income Tax paid is verified by comparing a copy of the student, spouse, or parent income tax return transcript to federal data. Total discrepancies of all dollar amounts outside of tolerance level of $25 must be corrected before further processing.
Household size is verified by comparing the Verification Worksheet to federal data. Discrepancies must be corrected before further processing. There is no tolerance for this data element.
Although regulations allow situations when verification of household size is not required (See the DOE Verification Guide), the FAO does not have a systematic way to track these exclusions. Therefore, all students selected for verification must submit a response to the Household size question on the Verification Worksheet.
Number in Postsecondary Institutions
Number of family members enrolled at least half-time in postsecondary institutions is verified by comparing the Verification Worksheet to federal data. Discrepancies must be corrected before further processing. The dependent studentís parent is not allowed to be used in this number, unless the FAO uses professional judgement.
Although regulations allow situations when verification of number in college is not required (See the DOE Verification Guide), the FAO does not have a systematic way to track these exclusions. Therefore, all students selected for verification must submit a response to the Household size question on the Verification Worksheet.
Institutional Discretionary Items
The FAO verifies those applicants identified by the Department of Education (DOE). Aid Administrators may select a student for verification if there is a discrepancy or a condition which is unusual and warrants investigation. If a student submits verification documentation (i.e., tax return), the FAO staff must verify the information on the document against the information in the student's file.
When verifying a student's record, there is one instance when discrepant information does not have to be corrected and that iswhen the absolute value of the discrepancies does not exceed $25.
Notification to Students
Students are notified of the results of verification by receipt of an award letter and by receiving a corrected ISIR from CPS if Pell eligibility is affected.
The FAO will submit all corrections to the CPS.
FAO policies and procedures are designed to eliminate the possibility of an overpayment from any fund. If however, an overpayment does occur, the student is placed on hold until the overpayments can be corrected. Students are not allowed to register for subsequent terms and academic transcripts are withheld until the account has been cleared. The overpayments are reported on NSLDS in accordance with federal regulations.
The financial aid administrator will verify the studentís file when all documents have been submitted.
Updating Requirements and Procedures
There are three situations whereby an Aid Administrator may update student information. When students notify the aid office of an allowable update and provide legitimate documentation, the Aid Administrator may recalculate the student's EFC and the new figure may be used to award financial aid. Updates may occur for:
1) Dependency status (Dependency status may not be changed for previously certified Stafford Loans and may not be changed due to marital status).
2) Family size.
3) Number of family members enrolled in a postsecondary institution.
Because the FAO is liable for disbursements made prior to verification, the FAO policy does not allow interim disbursements. Students must complete the verification process before aid is awarded and disbursed. Exceptions must include extenuating circumstances, be documented in the studentís folder, and be approved by the Director of the FAO.
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