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Verification is a federal process which requires the institution to check the accuracy of the information a student and/or a student’s parents have given when applying for federal financial aid. Information is verified by securing additional documentation or, in some cases, a signed statement attesting to the accuracy of the information provided.
The stated purpose of verification is to reduce error rates in applicant-reported data and to assure, to the maximum extent possible, that eligible applicants receive the correct amount of financial assistance.
When a student files a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a certain number of these applications are selected for verification by the federal government. In a given year, 20% to 30% of Messiah College applicants are selected. Some applications are selected purely at random, others are selected based on questionable answers to application questions. The selection criteria are established by the U.S. Department of Education and the financial aid office does not know why a particular person has been selected. If a student’s application is selected for verification, the school that the student plans to attend is required to collect certain information in order to verify the accuracy of the student’s application.
There are a number of possible items that might be selected to be verified for a particular student. For a dependent student, these items must be verified for the student and parents. For an independent student, they must be verified for the student and spouse.
Verification requirements are now more specific to the student. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will be placed into one of several groups defining the specific items you are required to provide. These items include one or more of the following:
- Income Information for Tax Filers (tax year on which the financial aid application is based)
- Income Information for Non tax Filers (tax year on which the financial aid application is based)
- Family size for the academic year
- Number of family members enrolled at least half-time in post-secondary education for the academic year (parents cannot be included)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Food Stamps) benefits, if any
- Child Support Paid, if any
- High School Completion Status
- Completion of Statement of Educational Purpose/Verification of Identity Form
- Other items as required by the U.S. Department of Education
The Messiah College Office of Financial Aid will inform you of exactly which items you need to send us. The documents necessary to verify these items are described in a letter sent to the student, by Messiah College, at the time that he or she is selected for verification.
Corrections to the application data, that result from verification, will be made through the institutions’ need analysis software and submitted to the United States Department of Education’s central processing system, if necessary. Applicants will be informed of any specific actions they must take to correct the application data. After submission of corrections, you will received a revised Student Aid Report informing you of any changes to your Expected Family Contribution. If your financial aid award changes, you will receive a revised financial aid award notice from the Financial Aid Office.
No deadlines are established for the submission of verification documents.
- For most required documents, an award will not be sent, aid will not be disbursed to the student, and Federal Loans will not be originated until verification is complete.
- The exception to this is that a financial aid award will be completed prior to receipt of one or both of the documentation of High School Completion Status or the Statement of Educational Purpose/ Verification of Identity Form. However, aid will not be disbursed to the student and Federal Loans will not be originated until these items have been received.
Receipt of a final financial aid award notice or loan promissory note constitutes notification to the student that verification has been completed. Students who receive a financial aid award notice prior to submission of documentation of High School Completion Status or the Statement of Educational Purpose/ Verification of Identity Form must still submit these items before verification is considered to be complete.
Receipt of an estimated financial aid award notice does not constitute such notification.
If, for some reason, an award was sent prior to verification, a revised award will be sent if the award changes due to verification. If the amount of the revised award is less than the original award and aid that the student is now ineligible for was disbursed to the student, the student will be responsible for repaying the amount of the overpayment. The student will also be responsible for repaying the amount of any aid disbursed if he or she fails to complete the verification process.