Typically, we wouldn’t even be thinking about a future award year when the upcoming one hasn’t even begun yet. But with the major changes surrounding the release of the 17-18 FAFSA in October of this year along with prior-prior year income being utilized, we are now less than 150 days away from managing these changes in real-time. So here is what you need to know, based on the latest Dear Colleague Letter released on April 5th, 2016.
Rejoice, for there will no longer be a Verification Tracking Group V6! That’s right, ED has decided that “the burden on families selected for Verification Tracking Group V6 far outweighed the benefits.” The issue for many aid administrators had in selecting low income families is that even if they prove their limited resources regarding untaxed income, it rarely led to any change in the EFC and savings in the Pell grant program. For some families, the demanding requirements became a deterrent during the application process and they ultimately failed to complete verification, losing out on potential federal and state funding for which they may have been eligible.
Another welcomed change is the elimination of verifying SNAP benefits and Child Support Paid. Again, ED has determined their “analysis shows no significant changes to applicants’ expected family contributions (EFCs) due to SNAP or Child Support Paid being verified.” The Verification Tracking Group attributed to these fields had already been eliminated for 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectfully, and now these two items have been removed as verifiable items all together from groups V1, V4, V5, and V6, as well.
Finally, an added bonus with moving up the processing and the introduction of prior-prior year income, is that documentation used to satisfy the requirements for 2016-17 can also be used for 2017-18 verification, assuming that what is being asked of between the two years is the same and a tracking group has not changed. The only exceptions to this rule are that schools are still required to verify household size, number in college and students would need to submit a new “Statement of Educational Purpose” with valid proof of identity for both award years.
Keep in mind, ED is no longer providing verification worksheets going forward so schools still need to create their own. The best times to begin thinking about the new processing cycle may very well be what you usually consider to be more of a “down time” period in the middle of the summer. Happy 2016-17 awarding as the cycle is in full motion right now and may 2017-18 not completely sneak up on you!
Schedule a VERIFY demo to see how HEAG’s compliance experts and remote verification service can help you prepare for Verification 2017-18.