The U.S. Department of Education requires that every accredited institution of higher education in the United States verify the accuracy of information provided by students and families when they apply for federal student aid.
Verification is the process by which the Office of Student Aid confirms the information supplied on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It ensures that all Penn State students were awarded the loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study that they were eligible to receive. Students who are selected for verification will receive a letter directly from the Office of Student Aid that details the specific information that is needed, and the time frame in which it must be submitted.
At Penn State, families are typically selected for verification in one of two ways:
-- They may have been randomly selected. The U.S. Department of Education requires that a random sample of student financial aid recipients be selected for verification each year.
-- They may have reported inconsistent information or entered data in error-prone areas of the FAFSA.
If a student is selected for verification, the Office of Student Aid will notify the student via a letter to his or her home address about specific information that is needed; collect documentation to verify the FAFSA information; submit any needed changes directly to the U.S. Department of Education; and update the student's financial aid award if necessary.
The quickest way to return verification documents to the Office of Student Aid is by faxing them to (814) 863-0322 (Attn: Verification). Alternatively, documents may be sent via the U.S. Postal Service to 314 Shields Building, University Park, PA, 16802-1220.
Students who are selected for verification are strongly encouraged to provide the requested information within the time period specified, and to read the notification carefully so they know what is expected. Failure to submit the proper documentation can lead to further verification requests, delays in student receipt of financial aid, and a possible cancellation of aid.
If students are selected for verification, the Office of Student Aid staff suggests that they:
-- Complete all forms in their entirety using black ink (blue ink does not transmit well by fax).
-- Write a zero (0) when they answer questions about figures that do not apply to them. They should not leave blanks or use dashes.
-- Provide signatures where required. Both students and parents of dependent students must sign their respective tax returns as well as any Penn State verification forms.
-- Include their name and Penn State ID number on each page that they send to the Office of Student Aid. They should also make sure all copies are clear and legible. Students who have not been selected for verification are not obliged to send any additional documentation to the Office of Student Aid.
After the Office of Student Aid receives a student's updated information, a verification review typically will be completed within 10-15 business days. Students can access and monitor their verification and student aid status by selecting Student Aid Summary from the "Students" menu at https://elion.psu.edu online. Students are notified directly only if the verification process results in a change to their financial aid award.
For more information about verification and the student financial aid application process in general, visit the Office of Student Aid Web site at http://www.psu.edu/studentaid/applying/apply.shtml online.