Maintained for Historical Purposes

This resource is being maintained for historical purposes only and is not currently applicable.

Applications That Must be Verified

AwardYear: 1998 - 1999
ChapterNumber: 1
ChapterTitle: Basic Requirements
Section: Applications That Must be Verified
PageNumber: 2

When verification is required for an application, that application is said to have been “selected” for verification. Applications are selected either by the Central Processing System (CPS) or by the school. (The student’s output document will indicate if the CPS selected the application for verification, as explained later in this section.)

Under certain circumstances, a selected application may be excluded from required verification (see the 30% Verification Option and Verification Exclusions sections later in this chapter).

Edit-Selected Applications

Students apply for ED’s student aid programs by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), either electronically or on paper. Under certain conditions, students who applied for federal student aid in the previous award year will not need to complete an entirely new FAFSA. Instead, they can use the Renewal Free Application for Federal Student Aid (Renewal FAFSA), which contains their previous-year data and requires only that they change or add information as needed. (For more information about the Renewal FAFSA and the other application options listed next, see the 1998-99 Counselor’s Handbook for Postsecondary Schools.)

Students have several options for applying electronically, using either the FAFSA or the Renewal FAFSA:

FAFSA on the Web (or Renewal FAFSA on the Web) allows a student to complete an application and submit it directly to the CPS over the Internet.

FAFSA Express allows a student to complete and submit an application without Internet access, using a PC and modem.
Electronic Data Exchange (EDE), through participating schools, allows a student to submit an application with the help of his or her financial aid administrator. The application is transmitted to the CPS through the Department’s Title IV Wide Area Network (TIV-WAN).

To apply using a paper FAFSA, a student can download the FAFSA in portable document format (PDF) from the Department’s website,, and print it, complete it, and mail it. A student can also obtain a Department-printed paper FAFSA from participating postsecondary schools, local high schools or libraries, or can order one toll-free from the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-433-3243 (1-800-4FED-AID).

Students who apply electronically transmit their application data directly to the CPS. A student applying with a paper FAFSA, however, sends the FAFSA to the FAFSA processor. The FAFSA processor will scan in the paper FAFSA, and as a double-check will also manually enter the FAFSA data, then compare the two sets of data to identify and correct input errors. Then, the FAFSA processor will transmit the student’s application data to the CPS.

Regardless of how a student files the FAFSA, the CPS always processes it in the same way, and the verification procedures are also the same. The CPS checks the application, using several editing criteria designed to detect possible inconsistencies and mistakes. For instance, if a dependent student reported the parents’ marital status as married but also reported the household size as “2,” the CPS edit checks would catch the inconsistency, and will alert you and the student to the inconsistency. During processing, the CPS flags certain applications
for verification.

The CPS also “matches” the application data to several databases (including the National Student Loan Data System [NSLDS], a comprehensive database containing selected federal financial aid histories of SFA fund recipients-) to flag certain applicants, such as those who have defaulted on federal student loans or who owe repayments on federal grants.

Lastly, using a formula prescribed by law, the CPS also calculates the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which determines that student’s eligibility for federal student aid. The CPS reports the EFC and other results of application processing in an “output document,” which also repeats the information the student provided on the FAFSA. The format and transmission of the output document will vary, depending upon how the student submitted the FAFSA.

Most students will receive a paper output document called a Student Aid Report (SAR), within four weeks of filing. However, students who file electronically through their school, using the EDE system, will receive a different paper output document: the SAR Information Acknowledgement. Schools designated by the student (in Section G of the FAFSA) will receive an output document for the student, regardless of whether the student filed by paper or electronically. The output document the school receives is called an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR). Schools can receive the ISIR either electronically (through EDE) or on tape or cartridge.

The output document is useful and important in many ways. First, it shows what the student reported on the application, allowing the student and the school to double-check that information for errors or changes. The output document also reports the student’s EFC, and it indicates whether the CPS has selected a student’s application for verification. For example, on the SAR (or SAR Information Acknowledgement), the CPS prints an asterisk (*) to the right of the EFC and includes, in the comments portion of the SAR, verification instructions for the student. On the ISIR, the CPS indicates verification selection with a specified code.

On the SAR or ISIR, the verification selection codes (A-C 1-32, 99) are numbered in order of importance. If you are verifying no more than 30 percent of the total number of your school’s federal student aid applicants, you might want to select those applications with higher priority verification numbers. (See the 30% Verification Option discussion in the following section.) For example, reasons 2, 5, 8, and 10 have greater significance than reasons 13, 15, 19, and 24. Note that selecting applications with higher priority numbers is a suggestion, not a requirement.

The output document also indicates any questionable results from the database matches described above. For instance, if a student has defaulted on a federal student loan, the student’s output document will note this. The student may still be eligible for federal aid, but you must resolve the questions before delivering any funds to the student.

School-Selected Applications

Your school may also select applications for verification. For applications your school selects, you have full discretion as to which items must be verified. However, all other verification requirements (such as deadlines and allowable interim disbursement rules, etc.) apply equally to all applicants who are being verified, regardless of whether the CPS or the school selected the application for verification.

Last Modified: 02/03/1999