On July 13, 2021, Dear Colleague Letter GEN-21-05 announced the relief to millions of students and colleges facing challenges and barriers resulting from the ongoing national emergency. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is waiving the verification of most FAFSA/ISIR information, except for Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose and High School Completion Status under Verification Tracking Groups V4 and V5. This waiver began July 13, 2021, and applies for the remainder of the 2021-2022 award year.
This waiver may apply no matter where institutions are in the verification process, however if you have already received documents or receive them in the future, you will still need to review them for conflicting information concerning a student’s eligibility. Institutions maintain the discretion to select students for verification according to consistently applied institutional policies. However, ED encourages institutions to consider amending such policies to limit selection in a manner that offers relief to students and families during the ongoing national emergency.
Verification of Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose
As a reminder, ED suspended the in-person submission and notary requirements for verification of Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose 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the payment period that begins after the date on which the Federally declared national emergency related to COVID-19 is rescinded.
Institutions may accept—
- copies of the required verification documents electronically. This may occur by 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, etc.
- an electronic signature using a stylus or finger to sign the statement, or an image of the individual’s signature affixed to the statement in lieu of obtaining a wet signature.
Verification of High School (or Equivalent) Completion Status
As a reminder, official documentation of high school completion or it’s equivalency may be difficult for students to obtain during this national emergency. For students in verification groups V4 or V5, institutions should use documentation of the student’s high school completion status that they may have already obtained for other purposes such as admissions.
Subsequent ISIR Transactions
Although verification is waived for certain information, institutions are still required to review all subsequent ISIR transactions for the entire processing year unless a student is no longer enrolled at your institution.
If conflicting information concerning a student’s eligibility exists, including documentation obtained during the verification process, the institution must resolve the discrepancies before disbursing Title IV funds.
CPS and COD
Since this change to verification policy occurred after the 2021-2022 CPS processing year began, ISIR transactions will continue to be selected for verification.
Even if verification is no longer required, we must still report a Verification Status Code for every student selected for verification to COD. FAME software changes are necessary for any student selected in either the V1 or V5 verification groups. Currently, there is no change for students in verification group V4.
FAME has prioritized the necessary changes to our software products and schools will be notified in a future “What’s New” product release communication with the details of those changes.