NAICU Washington Update

Certain FAFSA Verification Requirements to be Temporarily Waived

July 15, 2021

The Department of Education announced that in light of the pandemic, the agency will temporarily relax federal student aid verification requirements. The Department’s move will ease the burden of verification, which disproportionately impacts low-income and minority students. 

In general, the verification process requires selected students to submit additional documentation verifying income and other financial information. The Department’s latest action will focus on preventing identity theft and fraud, and will only require students to verify their identity, statement of educational purpose, and high school completion status.  The Department will waive other verification standards for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Institutional Student Information Record for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Institutions are able to utilize the waiver of the other verification standards immediately and regardless of where they are in the verification process.  However, institutions are not exempt from reviewing all documents for conflicting information concerning a student’s eligibility. This waiver begins on July 13, 2021, and applies for the remainder of the 2021-2022 FAFSA processing and verification cycle.

When verifying a student’s identity and statement of educational purpose, institutions may accept copies of the required verification documents electronically, which can include uploading a photo of the documents (including from a smartphone), PDF, or other similar electronic document through a secure portal at the institution, by email, or via other electronic platforms. Institutions may also accept an electronic signature in lieu of obtaining a wet signature. These flexibilities will be allowed through the end of the payment period that begins after the date on which the federally declared national emergency related to COVID-19 is rescinded.

When verifying a student’s high school status, institutions can use documentation of the student’s high school completion status that they may already have obtained for other purposes, such as documentation maintained in the admissions office. The list of acceptable documentation to verify high school completion can be found in the Federal Register notice regarding the FAFSA information to be verified for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Institutions still must verify all students selected for verification of their identity, statement of educational purpose, and high school completion status unless a student is excluded from verification as outlined in Chapter 4 of the 2021-2022 Application and Verification Guide.

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