An aid office has a student who tells them she has legally changed her name to “ Anonymous.” The office changes her name in their computer system, but now they are experiencing processing issues. Was the school required to ask for documentation of her name change before updating it in their system? Read on to see if you got the answer right!
Yes, it is a requirement that the school request documentation from Anonymous. The student's proper legal name should be reflected in both their system and on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Page 1-63 of the 2014-15 FSA Handbook speaks to the importance of the correct legal name being reflected to successfully match with the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is also a comment code that must be resolved - see page 35, comment code 061, in the 2015-16 SAR Comment Codes and Text Guide. Some financial aid management (FAM) systems allow the use of informal names; however, for processing of federal student aid, the legal name must always be used. To clear up any processing issues, documentation should be requested, i.e., marriage certificate if the name change is due to marriage, or other document from the court reflecting another reason for the change, and kept in the student's file.
As a general rule, a student's financial aid documents should reflect his or her legal name at the time of application and when all documents related to his or her eligibility for financial aid are signed, especially promissory notes. The promissory note is a legal binding contract between the student and the lender and should reflect the student's legal name.
As you are aware, the CPS performs a database match with the SSA to verify the name and birth date associated with a Social Security Number. If the student successfully passed the database match and his or her name subsequently changes, then you should advise the student to contact SSA to update its database to prevent future problems and require the student to sign all financial aid documents using his or her correct legal name.
Publication Date: 4/23/2015