Understanding the Verification Process

What is verification?

Verification is a process required by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the accuracy of information reported on the Free Application for the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) .

Am I selected for verification?

If selected for verification, students will receive an email to their OCC email requesting additional documentation. Students can also view the requested documents on Financial Aid Self-Service.  Verification is complete when all conflicting information is resolved, corrected, and reported by the Student Financial Resources and Scholarships (SFRS) office to the Department of Education Central Processing System (CPS). 

What happens after document submission?

Once all requested documents are submitted for review, the SFRS office will review the submissions and compare against the data submitted on the FAFSA for accuracy.  If any discrepancies are found, SFRS will correct the FAFSA data via a U.S. Department of Education (ED) website.  If more information is required for SFRS to make a determination of accuracy, the student will be contacted by telephone or student email with the request.

It is the student’s responsibility to provide any and all information requested.  SFRS is unable to disburse federal student financial aid until the verification process is complete.  Failure to comply in a timely manner with the request for verification documents may result in a student not being eligible for federal aid.  

Please note:
Until the verification process is completed by SFRS, a financial aid award value determined, and acceptance of said award occurs, any class registration will be subject to the College’s published payment deadlines.  Registration is held in place only by student payment or an accepted financial aid award.  Student registration is subject to cancellation without some form of payment on the account.

How long does the verficiation process take to complete? 

During peak periods, it may take up to 21 business days for documents to be reviewed.  If SFRS must make corrections to a student’s FAFSA, an additional 5-10 business days are required to submit to DOE and upload the updated FAFSA data to the student’s financial aid file.  Once the verification process is complete, financial aid awards will be determined and applied to the student account.  Students may track the progress by logging into their Financial Aid Self Service account.

What types of information may be requested?

Information requested for the Verification process may include, but is not limited to, the following data for a student, a student’s spouse, or the parent(s) of a dependent student:

  • Adjusted Gross Income
  • Taxes Paid
  • Income Earned from Work
  • Untaxed Income and Benefits
  • Household Size
  • Number of Household Members in College
  • Citizenship or Eligible Non-Citizenship Status
  • Veteran Status
  • Social Security Number
  • High School Completion Status
  • Identity/Statement of Education Purpose

Tax returns and verification of non-filing

Updated 2019-2020 Verification Requirements

Income Tax returns:  In addition to a Tax Return Transcript, institutions may accept a signed copy of the 2017 income tax returns (IRS 1040), a tax return transcript, Record of Account Transcript and Return Transcript for Taxpayer from the IRS.

Verification of Non-filing (VNF):  If the individual is unable to obtain Verification of Non-filing from the IRS or other tax authorities, the institution may accept a signed statement certifying that the individual:

  • Attempted to obtain the VNF from the IRS;
  • Has not filed and is not required to file a 2017 income tax return
  • Has provided to SFRS a listing of the sources of any 2017 Federal income earned by the individual from work with the amount of income from each source; and
  • A copy of IRS Form W-2 or an equivalent document, if applicable, for each source of 2017 employment income received by the individual.

False or misleading information

OCC must refer to the Office of Inspector General any credible information indicating that a Title IV aid applicant, school employee, or third party server may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with the Title IV programs.  Any intentional attempt to deceive or mislead by submitting improper documentation will be referred as required.
Common misconducts include, but are not limited to:

  • Claims of independent student status
  • False claims of citizenship
  • Use of false identities
  • Forgery of signatures of certifications
  • False statement of income

Change in entitlement

If it is determined that a student has received federal, state, or institutional funds that they were not entitled to receive, the student will be required to repay the amount received.  If a repayment is not made, the overpayment may be reported to the U.S. Department of Education, preventing receipt of future federal aid until resolved.
Additional Information

Watch Financial Aid TV for more information on Title IV Federal Verification.