EA – Posted April 17, 2014 – (General).  2014-2015 FAFSA Verification-IRS Tax Return Transcript Matrix

With this announcement ED provides a matrix for use in verifying IRS income and tax information when an IRS Tax Return Transcript has been submitted by a student or parent.  ED specifies how the items on the IRS Tax Return Transcript relate to the items on the FAFSA and ISIR.  This is important due to the fact that the tax return transcript does not have line or item numbers and uses wording that may be different than what is used on the FAFSA and ISIR for some items.  Also, there are some items on the transcript that may have more than one value reported.  When only one value is reported for an item, that is the value that must be used for verification purposes.  However, when an item has more than one value reported on the transcript, the one that must be used for verification purposes is the one that says “Per Computer”.  This is true even if it is a value different than what the tax filer reported when submitting their tax return.  Financial Aid Administrators will find this matrix to be a useful tool as they read this EA and review the matrix carefully.

EA – Posted May 15, 2014 – (Verification).  Resolving Marital Status and Tax Filing Status Inconsistencies

This new guidance provided by ED addresses situations where a student or parent reports a marital status on the FAFSA that does not match the tax filing status reported on their tax return or tax transcript.  Specifically, schools are to review scenarios where the marital status and the tax filing status reported on the FAFSA for the student or parent indicate a possible error.  ED reminds schools that new comment codes (codes 361 through 368) were established this year to alert schools of possible errors in the information provided by the student or parent.  It is pointed out that although a student’s ISIR may indicate one of these comment codes, it does not necessarily require it to be considered conflicting information since there are circumstances when the apparent discrepant reporting is, in fact, an accurate reflection of the marital and tax filing statuses.  (For example, it is possible a student filed taxes as single since that was correct at the end of the tax year, but then gets married after the end of the tax year and before submitting the FAFSA for the coming award year.)  ED states that schools are strongly encouraged to review students’ records when one of the new comment codes are on a student’s ISIR, but are not required to do so.  If a school does review and/or otherwise determine errors in the information, it must submit the corrections through the Central Processing System (CPS) and maintain supporting documentation.  If the school reviews a student’s application data and finds that it is accurate even though one of the comment codes was present, it simply annotates the file accordingly.  ED encourages schools in their commitment to maintain integrity in the Federal Student Aid programs.

EA – Posted June 18, 2014 – (Verification).  Reporting Verification Results of an Applicant’s Identity and High School Completion Status Using FAA Access to CPS Online

New guidance is given by ED in this announcement related to the required reporting of the verification results of those applicants selected in Verification Tracking Groups V4 and V5.  This guidance specifies the universe of applicants for whom reporting must be done, as well as the timeframe within which the reporting must be completed.  Schools are provided the appropriate response options to use when reporting the results.  Only those applicants selected for verification by ED are to have the results of verification reported.  The reporting of the outcome of the verification must be submitted within 60 days of the date on which the school requests the documentation for verification.  (NOTE:  FAME will perform this reporting function for its Processing clients when the appropriate information has been entered in the software.  In light of ED’s recent guidance regarding the opportunity for third-party servicers to report on behalf of clients, FAME will be enhancing our software products to collect the results from our clients.  FAME will provide communication to our clients as soon as the software enhancement is available.  In the meantime, FAME’s Processing client schools will need to keep track of any verification results on students selected for V4 and V5 Tracking Groups until the software enhancement is complete.  At that point schools will be able to enter the appropriate data for FAME to report.)