POLICY STATEMENT

In accordance with the U.S. Department of Education regulation 34 CFR 668.51–61, we must verify applications selected by the Central Processing system (CPS) of students who will receive or have received subsidized student financial assistance, as defined in the federal regulations. Verification is not required for students who are only eligible for unsubsidized student financial assistance. Students who are eligible for both subsidized and unsubsidized Title IV aid may not avoid verification by accepting only unsubsidized aid; they must complete verification to receive any Title IV aid.

APPLICATIONS AND INFORMATION TO BE VERIFIED

Each year the Central Processing System (CPS) of the U.S. Department of Education selects a number of Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms (FAFSAs) for a process called verification.

If your FAFSA is selected for verification, Ohlone College will need to collect additional documentation from you in order to verify some of the information you provided on your FAFSA. For example, Ohlone may ask for additional information about your income, the number of people in your household, the number of people attending college in your household and/or other information. This page will give you an idea of what to expect if your FAFSA is selected for verification.

HOW YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED

If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will be notified as follows: 

  1. When the Department of Education sends you the Student Aid Report (SAR), it will include an asterisk (*) next to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The asterisk lets you know that Ohlone will ask for documentation for the verification process.
  2. Ohlone will notify you by e-mail. Notifications will begin as soon as Ohlone receives the FAFSA selected for verification. Notifications will continue until you have submitted all documents required for verification or the deadline for submission has passed.

The notifications from Ohlone will include a link to Student Forms, as well as steps to access Ohlone Financial Aid Self-Service, to view information about required documentation. The student forms platform is the primary communication point for information about FAFSA verification. Visit the site often during the verification process for information on outstanding documentation.

After you submit documents for review, your account may display conflicting information. If this occurs, Ohlone will again reach out to you to resolve the conflicting information by requesting additional documentation.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

Required documentation varies depending on the reason(s) your application was selected. Typically, if your FAFSA is selected for verification, you and your parent(s) must complete the following:

  • Verification Worksheet
  • From the tax year used when completing your FAFSA:
    • If your parent(s) have filed federal taxes, they need to submit a signed copy of their federal tax return, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) or submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript
    • If you have filed federal taxes, you need to submit a signed copy of your federal tax return, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) or submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript
    • If you and/or your parent(s) earned income from any source, submit a copy of each Form W-2 received or if no W-2, a list of the source(s) and total earnings

Our office recommends that you submit verification documents as soon as possible upon being notified of your selection. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, be sure to complete the verification requirements as soon as possible so that your eligibility for federal financial aid can be finalized. If you are unable to load the required documents through the Student Forms platform and are sending documents to us with Personally Identifiable Information (i.e., Social Security Number, Driver’s License or State ID Number, Alien Registration Number, Date of Birth), we suggest that you take several steps to secure your data. Social Security Numbers should be redacted / blackened out and the message you are sending should be encrypted. In all circumstances,the verification process must be completed by the last day of your enrollment during the school year for which your application has been selected, unless you meet certain federal criteria to be considered for later disbursements. Please see below for additional information on the priority submission date for completing verification.

Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)

If you did not choose the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) when you initially filed your FAFSA, please complete the following:

  • Log-in to studentaid.gov/fafsa to "Correct info"
  • In the “Financial Information” section, click “Link to IRS”
  • On the IRS website, fill out the form and click on “Transfer my tax information into the FAFSA”. Once you complete the IRS information, the system will bring you back to the FAFSA
  • Make sure you submit the corrections and sign your FAFSA using your FSA ID

You Will Be Unable to Use the DRT if:

  • The student/parent is married, and either the student/parent or his/her spouse filed as married filing separately
  • The student/parent is married, and either the student/parent or his/her spouse filed as Head of Household
  • The parents' marital status is "Unmarried and both legal parents living together"
  • The student/parent filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return
  • The student/parent filed their tax return electronically within the last three weeks, or through the mail within the last 11 weeks

Additional information about using the DRT is available from the Department of Education.

IRS Tax Return Transcript Request

Tax filers selected for verification and unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval may request a Tax Return Transcript (NOT an Account Transcript) of their tax return from the IRS in one of three ways:

  1. The IRS website by selecting “Get Transcript ONLINE” or “Get Transcript by MAIL”
  2. The IRS automated phone transcript service at 1-800-908-9946
  3. Complete and submit Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T to the IRS by mail

Note: For electronic filers, an IRS Tax Return Transcript may be requested within 2-3 weeks after the return has been accepted by the IRS. The IRS Tax Return Transcript may take up to 8 weeks to be available for those who file paper tax returns.

Tax filers selected for verification and unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval may also submit a :

  1. Signed copy of the Federal Tax 1040 Form and any required Schedules

Note: The 1040 form must either be signed by the individual(s) who are filing taxes, or signed by the tax preparer with all company information listed for that tax preparer.

IDENTITY THEFT

If you have been a victim of identity theft, you cannot obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript until the issue has been resolved by the IRS. Since resolution can take a significant amount of time, please provide a copy of the Transcript Database View (TRDBV) tax transcript to our office along with a signed and dated statement by the tax filer indicating you were a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and the IRS has been made aware of the tax-related identity theft. You may obtain a copy of the TRDBV from the IRS by calling 1-800-908-4490.

CORRECTING ERRORS ON THE FAFSA

Upon receipt of the Student Aid Report (SAR), you should review all the information listed and submit for correction any errors reported on the original FAFSA.
The CPS will send Ohlone an electronic summary of the selected student's original FAFSA and any corrected FAFSA information. Once received, all FAFSA data, verification worksheets, and any supplemental verification documents will be reviewed by Ohlone’s Office of Financial Aid to verify the accuracy of the student's FAFSA information and to calculate the student's eligibility for FSA.
If the FAFSA information changes as a result of the verification process, Financial Aid staff will

  • Submit the FAFSA changes and corrections to CPS for processing
  • Recalculate the Federal Pell Grant based on the student's recalculated EFC
  • Notify you via e-mail of any changes to that academic year's FSA package
  • Adjust that academic year's FSA package based on the recalculated EFC

VERIFICATION DEADLINE & FAILURE TO SUBMIT

Ohlone will not award or disburse Federal Student Aid (FSA) until the verification process is complete. Failure to complete the verification process by the deadline may result in a student not being eligible for FSA, in which case the student will need other means to pay for courses.

Requested verification documentation must be submitted to Ohlone by the deadlines posted for that award year by the U.S. Department of Education in the Federal Register, i.e., the earlier of 120 days after the student's last date of attendance for the current award year or the stated date within the Federal Register.

If you are selected for federal verification but do not wish to complete the process and want to cancel your aid application, you should send written notification to the Office of Financial Aid.

In general, the Office of Financial Aid has a practice of completing the verification process prior to preparing a Financial Plan (FP). As a result, the FP that you receive will reflect your eligibility post verification.

In rare cases, the Office of Financial Aid will prepare an FP prior to the completion of the verification process. In those cases, the FP will include a message that states that the estimated financial aid is subject to change pending the results of verification. Once verification is complete, the updates will be sent to the Federal processor and a revised electronic FP will be sent.

SUBSEQUENT FAFSA TRANSACTIONS

Making changes or updates to your FAFSA will result in a subsequent transaction being sent to Ohlone. If the subsequent transaction is selected for verification after FSA has been awarded or disbursed, you will be notified via email. Students will be entitled to keep funding that has been previously disbursed prior to the subsequent ISIR, but will not be eligible for future disbursements until the verification process has been completed. You have 15 calendar days after the date of notification to submit all requested documentation for review.

Failure to submit the requested documents within the 15-day timeframe will result in the cancellation of all need-based FSA.

REFERRAL OF FRAUD CASES

By law, the University must refer to the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) any credible information it discovers, including as part of the verification process, that indicates an applicant for federal student aid may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with his or her application for such aid. Common types of fraud or misconduct include false claims of independent student status, false claims of citizenship, use of false identities, forgery of signatures of certifications, and false statements of income.

Students and parents are advised that Ohlone must and will refer to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) any credible information indicating that an applicant for FSA may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with FAFSA applications. Common misconduct includes false claims of independent status, false claims of citizenship, use of false identities, forgery of signatures of certifications, and false statements of income. Note that fraud is the intent to deceive as opposed to a mistake on an application.
If a College employee suspects that a student, another employee, or some other party has misreported information or altered documentation to fraudulently obtain federal student aid, the employee with such suspicion is required to bring that information to the attention of the Colleges Financial Aid Administrator. The Financial Aid Administrator will work with College legal counsel to review the documentation and determine if a referral to the OIG is required. Any decision to refer information to the OIG will be coordinated by College legal counsel in accordance with the guidance provided in the Federal Student Aid Handbook. The relevant student file will be held in the office of the Financial Aid Administrator to ensure that all information is secure once a report is made to the OIG.

FINANCIAL AID TV

For more information on FAFSA verification, please watch Financial Aid TV.