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Notice

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Information To Be Verified for the 2016-2017 Award Year

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Notice.

[CFDA Numbers: 84.007, 84.033, 84.038, 84.063, and 84.268.]

SUMMARY:

For each award year, the Secretary publishes in the Federal Register a notice announcing the FAFSA information that an institution and an applicant may be required to verify, as well as the acceptable documentation for verifying FAFSA information. This is the notice for the 2016-2017 award year.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jacquelyn C. Butler, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street NW., Room 8053, Washington, DC 20006. Telephone: (202) 502-7890.

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Secretary will include on the applicant's Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) flags that will indicate that the applicant has been selected by the Secretary for verification and the Verification Tracking Group that the applicant has been placed in, which in turn indicates which FAFSA information needs to be verified for that applicant and, if appropriate, the applicant's parent(s) or spouse. The Student Aid Report (SAR) provided to the applicant will indicate that the applicant's FAFSA information has been selected for verification and direct the applicant to the institution for further instructions for completing the verification process.

The following chart lists, for the 2016-2017 award year, the FAFSA information that an institution and an applicant and, if appropriate, the applicant's parent(s) or spouse, may be required to verify under 34 CFR 668.56. The chart also lists the acceptable documentation that must be provided under § 668.57 to an institution for that information to be verified.

FAFSA informationAcceptable documentation
Income information for tax filers a. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). b. U.S. Income Tax Paid. c. Untaxed Portions of IRA Distributions. d. Untaxed Portions of Pensions. e. IRA Deductions and Payments. f. Tax Exempt Interest Income. g. Education Credits.For income information listed under items a through g for tax filers— (1) Tax year 2015 information that the Secretary has identified as having been obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool 1 and that has not been changed after the information was obtained from the IRS; (2) A transcript 1 obtained from the IRS that lists tax account information of the tax filer for tax year 2015; or (3) A transcript 1 that was obtained at no cost from the relevant taxing authority of a U.S. territory (Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands) or commonwealth (Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands), or a foreign central government that lists tax account information of the tax filer for tax year 2015.
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h. Other Untaxed IncomeFor tax filers required to verify other untaxed income— (1) A statement signed by the applicant and, if the applicant is a dependent student, by one of the applicant's parents that lists sources of other untaxed income as provided under section 480(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), and the amount of income from each source for tax year 2015; and (2) A copy of IRS Form W-2 2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2015 or an equivalent document.2
Income information for tax filers with special circumstances a. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). b. U.S. Income Tax Paid. c. Untaxed Portions of IRA Distributions. d. Untaxed Portions of Pensions. e. IRA Deductions and Payments. f. Tax Exempt Interest Income. g. Education Credits.(1) For a student or the parent(s) of a dependent student who filed a 2015 joint income tax return and whose income is used in the calculation of the applicant's expected family contribution and who at the time the FAFSA was completed was separated, divorced, widowed, or married to someone other than the individual included on the 2015 joint income tax return— (a) A transcript 1 obtained from the IRS or other relevant taxing authority that lists tax account information of the tax filer(s) for tax year 2015; and (b) A copy of IRS Form W-2 2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2015 or an equivalent document.2
(2) For an individual who is required to file a 2015 IRS income tax return and has been granted a filing extension by the IRS—
(a) A copy of IRS Form 4868, “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” that the individual filed with the IRS for tax year 2015;
(b) If applicable, a copy of the IRS's approval of an extension beyond the automatic six-month extension if the individual requested an additional extension of the filing time for tax year 2015;
(c) A copy of IRS Form W-2 2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2015 or an equivalent document; 2 and
(d) If self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of AGI and U.S. income tax paid for tax year 2015.
Note: An institution may require that, after the income tax return is filed, an individual granted a filing extension submit tax information using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool 1 or by obtaining a transcript 1 from the IRS that lists tax account information for tax year 2015. When an institution receives such information, it must be used to reverify the FAFSA information included on the transcript.1
(3) For an individual who was the victim of IRS tax-related identity theft—
(a) A Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV) transcript obtained from the IRS; and
(b) A statement signed and dated by the tax filer indicating that he or she was a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS has been made aware of the tax-related identity theft.
Note: Tax filers may inform the IRS of the tax-related identity theft and obtain a TRDBV transcript by calling the IRS's Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at 1-800-908-4490. Tax filers who cannot obtain a TRDBV transcript may instead submit another official IRS transcript or equivalent document provided by the IRS if it includes all of the income and tax information required to be verified. Unless the institution has reason to suspect the authenticity of the TRDBV transcript or an equivalent document provided by the IRS, a signature or stamp or any other validation from the IRS is not needed.
h. Other Untaxed Income(4) For tax filers with special circumstances who are required to verify other untaxed income, a statement signed by the applicant and, if the applicant is a dependent student, by one of the applicant's parents, that lists the sources of other untaxed income as provided under section 480(b) of the HEA and the amount of income from each source for tax year 2015.
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Income information for nontax filers a. Income earned from work. b. Other Untaxed Income.For an individual who has not filed and, under IRS or other relevant taxing authority rules (e.g., the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, a U.S. territory or commonwealth or a foreign central government), is not required to file a 2015 income tax return— (1) A signed statement certifying— (a) That the individual has not filed and is not required to file an income tax return for tax year 2015; (b) The sources of income earned from work and the amount of income from each source for tax year 2015; (c) For nontax filers required to verify other untaxed income, the source of income as provided under section 480(b) of the HEA and the amount of income from each source for tax year 2015; and (2) A copy of IRS Form W-2 2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2015 or an equivalent document.2
Note: If an institution has reason to believe that the signed statement provided by the applicant regarding whether the applicant has not filed and is not required to file a 2015 income tax return is inaccurate, the institution must request that the applicant obtain confirmation of non-filing from the IRS or other relevant taxing authority.
Number of Household MembersA statement signed by the applicant and, if the applicant is a dependent student, by one of the applicant's parents that lists the name and age of each household member and the relationship of that household member to the applicant.
Note: Verification of number of household members is not required if—
• For a dependent student, the household size indicated on the ISIR is two and the parent is single, separated, divorced, or widowed, or the household size indicated on the ISIR is three if the parents are married or unmarried and living together; or
• For an independent student, the household size indicated on the ISIR is one and the applicant is single, separated, divorced, or widowed, or the household size indicated on the ISIR is two if the applicant is married.
Number in College(1) A statement signed by the applicant and, if the applicant is a dependent student, by one of the applicant's parents listing the name and age of each household member who is or will be attending an eligible postsecondary educational institution as at least a half-time student in the 2016-2017 award year in a program that leads to a degree or certificate and the name of that educational institution.
(2) If an institution has reason to believe that the signed statement provided by the applicant regarding the number of household members enrolled in eligible postsecondary institutions is inaccurate, the institution must obtain documentation from each institution named by the applicant that the household member in question is, or will be, attending on at least a half-time basis unless—
(a) The applicant's institution determines that such documentation is not available because the household member in question has not yet registered at the institution the household member plans to attend; or
(b) The institution has documentation indicating that the household member in question will be attending the same institution as the applicant.
Note: Verification of the number of household members in college is not required if the number in college indicated on the ISIR is “1.”
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)(1) A statement signed by the applicant and, if the applicant is a dependent student, by one of the applicant's parents affirming that SNAP benefits were received by someone in the household during the 2014 and/or 2015 calendar year.
(2) If an institution has reason to believe that the signed statement provided by the applicant regarding the receipt of SNAP benefits is inaccurate, the applicant must provide the institution with documentation from the agency that issued the SNAP benefits.
Note: Verification of the receipt of SNAP benefits is not required if the receipt of SNAP benefits is not indicated on the applicant's ISIR.
Child Support Paid(1) A statement signed by the applicant and, if the applicant is a dependent student, by one of the applicant's parents, as appropriate, certifying—
(a) The amount of child support paid;
(b) The name of the person who paid the child support;
(c) The name of the person to whom child support was paid; and
(d) The names and ages of the children for whom child support was paid.
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(2) If the institution has reason to believe that the information provided in the signed statement is inaccurate, the institution must obtain documentation such as—
(a) A statement from the individual receiving the child support showing the amount received; or
(b) Documentation that the child support payments were made (e.g., copies of the child support checks, money order receipts, or similar records of electronic payments having been made).
Note: Verification of child support paid is not required if child support paid is not indicated on the applicant's ISIR.
High School Completion Status(1) High School Diploma
(a) A copy of the applicant's high school diploma;
(b) A copy of the applicant's final official high school transcript that shows the date when the diploma was awarded; or
(c) A copy of the “secondary school leaving certificate” (or other similar document) for students who completed secondary education in a foreign country and are unable to obtain a copy of their high school diploma or transcript.
Note: Institutions that have the expertise may evaluate foreign secondary school credentials to determine their equivalence to U.S. high school diplomas. Institutions may also use a foreign diploma evaluation service for this purpose.
(2) Recognized Equivalent of a High School Diploma
(a) General Educational Development (GED) Certificate or GED transcript;
(b) A State certificate or transcript received by a student after the student has passed a State-authorized examination (HiSET, TASC, or other State-authorized examination) that the State recognizes as the equivalent of a high school diploma;
(c) An academic transcript that indicates the student successfully completed at least a two-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward a bachelor's degree at any participating institution; or
(d) For a person who is seeking enrollment in an educational program that leads to at least an associate degree or its equivalent and who excelled academically in high school but did not finish, documentation from the high school that the student excelled academically and documentation from the postsecondary institution that the student has met its written policies for admitting such students.
(3) Homeschool
(a) If the State where the student was homeschooled requires by law that such students obtain a secondary school completion credential for homeschool (other than a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent), a copy of that credential; or
(b) If State law does not require the credential noted in 3a), a transcript or the equivalent signed by the student's parent or guardian that lists the secondary school courses the student completed and documents the successful completion of a secondary school education in a homeschool setting.
Note: In cases where documentation of an applicant's completion of a secondary school education is unavailable, e.g., the secondary school is closed and information is not available from another source, such as the local school district or a State Department of Education, or in the case of homeschooling, the parent(s)/guardian(s) who provided the homeschooling is deceased, an institution may accept alternative documentation to verify the applicant's high school completion status. An institution may not accept a student's self-certification nor the DD Form 214 Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty as alternative documentation.
When documenting an applicant's high school completion status, an institution may rely on documentation it has already collected for purposes other than the Title IV verification requirements if the documentation meets the criteria outlined above (e.g., high school transcripts maintained in the admissions office). Verification of high school completion status is not required if the institution successfully verified and documented the applicant's high school completion status for a prior award year.
Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose(1) An applicant must appear in person and present the following documentation to an institutionally authorized individual to verify the applicant's identity—
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(a) An unexpired valid government-issued photo identification such as, but not limited to, a driver's license, non-driver's identification card, other State-issued identification, or passport. The institution must maintain an annotated copy of the unexpired valid government-issued photo identification that includes—
i. The date the identification was presented; and
ii. The name of the institutionally authorized individual who reviewed the identification; and
(b) A signed statement using the exact language as follows, except that the student's identification number is optional if collected elsewhere on the same page as the statement:
Statement of Educational Purpose
I certify that I ________ (Print Student's Name) am the individual signing this Statement of Educational Purpose and that the Federal student financial assistance I may receive will only be used for educational purposes and to pay the cost of attending
_____________for 2016-2017. (Name of Postsecondary Educational Institution)
___________________ (Student's Signature)
___________________ (Date)
___________________ (Student's ID Number)
(2) If an institution determines that an applicant is unable to appear in person to present an unexpired valid photo identification and execute the Statement of Educational Purpose, the applicant must provide the institution with—
(a) A copy of an unexpired valid government-issued photo identification such as, but not limited to, a driver's license, non-driver's identification card, other State-issued identification, or passport that is acknowledged in a notary statement or that is presented to a notary; and
(b) An original notarized statement signed by the applicant using the exact language as follows, except that the student's identification number is optional if collected elsewhere on the same page as the statement:
Statement of Educational Purpose
I certify that I ________(Print Student's Name) am the individual signing this Statement of Educational Purpose and that the Federal student financial assistance I may receive will only be used for educational purposes and to pay the cost of attending __________________for 2016-2017.
(Name of Postsecondary Educational Institution)
___________________ (Student's Signature)
___________________ (Date)
___________________ (Student's ID Number)
1 An institution may accept a copy of the original 2015 income tax return for tax filers who are—
(a) Consistent with guidance that the Secretary may provide following the period after the IRS processes 2015 income tax returns, unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or obtain a transcript from the IRS;
(b) Unable to obtain a transcript at no cost from the taxing authority of a U.S. territory (Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands) or commonwealth (Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands), or a foreign central government that lists tax account information of the tax filer for tax year 2015;
(c) Individuals who filed an amended tax return with the IRS. In addition to the copy of the original 2015 income tax return that was filed with the IRS, the individual must submit the following documents to the institution:
1. A transcript obtained from the IRS that lists tax account information of the tax filer(s) for tax year 2015; and
2. A signed copy of the IRS Form 1040X that was filed with the IRS.
The copy of the 2015 income tax return must include the signature of the tax filer or one of the filers of a joint income tax return or the signed, stamped, typed, or printed name and address of the preparer of the income tax return and the preparer's Social Security Number, Employer Identification Number, or Preparer Tax Identification Number.
For a tax filer who filed an income tax return other than an IRS form, such as a foreign or Puerto Rican tax form, the institution must use the income information (converted to U.S. dollars) from the lines of that form that correspond most closely to the income information reported on a U.S. income tax return.
An individual who did not retain a copy of his or her 2015 tax account information and that information cannot be located by the IRS or other relevant taxing authority, must submit to the institution—
(a) Copies of all IRS Form W-2s or an equivalent document;
(b) Documentation from the IRS or other relevant taxing authority that indicates the individual's 2015 tax account information cannot be located; and
(c) A signed statement that indicates that the individual did not retain a copy of his or her 2015 tax account information.Start Printed Page 36788
2 An individual who is required to submit an IRS Form W-2 or an equivalent document but did not maintain his or her copy should request a duplicate from the employer who issued the original or from the government agency that issued the equivalent document. If the individual is unable to obtain a duplicate W-2 or an equivalent document in a timely manner, the institution may permit that individual to provide a signed statement, in accordance with 34 CFR 668.57(a)(6), that includes—
(a) The amount of income earned from work;
(b) The source of that income; and
(c) The reason why the IRS Form W-2 and an equivalent document is not available in a timely manner.

Other Sources for Detailed Information

We provide a more detailed discussion on the verification process in the following resources:

These publications are on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals Web site at www.ifap.ed.gov.

Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.gpo.gov/​fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

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Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1070a, 1070a-1, 1070b—1070b-4, 1070c—1070c-4, 1070g, 1071—1087-2, 1087a-1087j, and 1087aa-1087ii; 42 U.S.C. 2751-2756b. Delegation of Authority: The Secretary of Education has delegated authority to Jamienne S. Studley, Deputy Under Secretary, to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.

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Dated: June 23, 2015.

Jamienne S. Studley,

Deputy Under Secretary.

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[FR Doc. 2015-15782 Filed 6-25-15; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P