Posted Date: January 18, 2013
David A. Bergeron, Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education
Subject: 2013-2014 Verification-Suggested Text
This Electronic Announcement provides suggested text (see APPENDIX A) that institutions may use to collect verification information for 2013–2014. We have also included a table (APPENDIX B) listing the verification items and any important considerations for each item.
As we noted in an Electronic Announcement posted to IFAP on November 1, 2012, providing this suggested text instead of a model verification worksheet is part of our multi-year effort to develop a customized approach to verification under which we determine for each selected student the required FAFSA verification items.
We urge institutions to read this announcement and the appendices before determining how they will request verification information from students.
Dear Colleague Letter GEN-12-11, posted to IFAP on July 17, 2012, describes the five Verification Tracking Groups for 2013–2014: V1-Standard; V2-SNAP; V3-Child Support Paid; V4-Custom; and V5-Aggregate. We have included in APPENDIX C a listing of the five groups and their associated verification items. The implementation of the five groups moves toward the goal of customized verification, which limits the items that most students must verify. For example, a student whose Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) indicates Verification Tracking Group V2 would only be required to document receipt of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and would not be required to verify other items. Similarly, a student whose ISIR indicates Verification Tracking Group V3 would only be required to document proof of child support paid.
Also, for students selected for Verification Tracking Groups V1, V4, or V5, SNAP and Child Support Paid are listed as required for verification; however, students in those groups should not be asked to verify those items if they were not included on the student’s ISIR.
Similarly, some students who are selected for Verification Tracking Groups V1 or V5 are not required to verify number of household members if:
For a dependent student, the household size included on the ISIR is “2” and the student’s parent is single, separated, divorced, or widowed; or the household size is “3” and the parents are married.
For an independent student, the household size included on the ISIR is “1” and the student is single, separated, divorced, or widowed; or the household size is “2” and the student is married.
Verification of the number of household members enrolled at least half time in eligible postsecondary institutions is not required when the number included on the ISIR is “1.”
Removing Unnecessary Burden
The use of a comprehensive verification worksheet that includes all or most of the possible 2013–2014 verification items would suggest to students that all of the items on the worksheet need to be verified, adding unnecessary complexity to the financial aid application process as well as significant unneeded burden on students and families. The use of a comprehensive worksheet could also delay notification of awards and perhaps even disbursement as students and their families struggle to provide documentation for items for which verification is not needed.
To require all selected students to verify all items would also add burden to institutions, particularly the need to resolve conflicts that institutions discover between what was included on the ISIR and the verification documentation that students provide.
To remove unnecessary burden on all parties, we urge institutions to use a targeted approach to request only required verification information from students and families.
Suggested Verification Text
As noted earlier, we are providing in APPENDIX A suggested text for each of the required 2013–2014 verification items that were identified in the July 12, 2012 Federal Register notice and in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-12-11. While use by an institution of the suggested text fulfills the regulatory verification requirements, except as noted below, institutions are not required to use the Department’s suggested text and formats. Instead, institutions may develop and use their own text, forms, documents, statements, and certifications that are specific to the items required to be verified for a particular student or group of students. The one exception is that institutions must use the exact language provided in the “Statement of Educational Purpose” in APPENDIX A for students who are placed in Verification Tracking Groups V4 or V5.
When an institution develops an institutional verification document for a student, we suggest that each page include appropriate headings and numbering that identify the item(s) being verified. Institutions should ensure that the institutional verification document collects the student’s name, ID number, and other identifying information, and that each page is identified as belonging to that student. Also, the institutional verification document should contain any special instructions for where, when, and how documents are to be submitted to the institution.
Appendix D is an example of how schools may use the suggested text to develop an institutional verification document. The example is for a dependent student selected for Verification Tracking Group V4 whose ISIR indicates child support paid but not the receipt of SNAP benefits.
If you have any questions about the content of this Electronic Announcement or the attachments, please contact our Research and Customer Care Center staff. Staff is available Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM (Eastern Time) at 1-800-433-7327. After hours calls will be accepted by an automated voice response system. Callers leaving their names and phone numbers will receive a return call the next business day. Alternatively, you may email the Customer Care Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.