By Karen McCarthy, Policy & Federal Relations Staff
Legislation introduced last week aims to make the process of obtaining a verification of non-filing (VONF) letter easier by allowing students and parents to upload documents such as household utility bills, student transcripts, and bank account statements as a way to authenticate and complete the online VONF request process. The IRS would also be required to respond to all VONF requests within 10 business days.
The Reduce Barriers to College Act, introduced by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), would direct the IRS to create a FAFSA-specific portal for requesting VONF letters, bypassing the stricter authentication requirements of the IRS "Get Transcript Online" process. Get Transcript Online requires the user to have (1) access to a valid email address, (2) a text-enabled mobile phone (pay-as-you-go plans cannot be used) in the user’s name, and (3) specific financial account numbers, such as a credit card number or an account number for a home mortgage or auto loan. These requirements preclude many non-tax filers from using the Get Transcript Online functionality, forcing them to use the manual 4506-T process.
Because the authentication process of the VONF request portal permits the use of documents that are more accessible to non-filers than the Get Transcript Online requirements, more applicants would be able to request the VONF online. In a statement, Veasey said having an option for verification online "will fast track a crucial aspect of the financial aid application process and prevent students from living in limbo as they consider different college options."
NASFAA also last month sent a letter to ED requesting a reprieve and suspension of the burdensome VONF requirements for independent students and parents of dependent students. NASFAA requested that this relief remain in effect until additional data and a cost-benefit analysis can be conducted to determine the utility of the VONF requirement.
Publication Date: 8/8/2017
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