By Owen Daugherty, NASFAA Staff Reporter
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) in a letter to the Department of Education (ED) Tuesday called for the extension of verification relief that was put in place for the current award cycle in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the 2021-22 waiver will continue to be in effect for the remainder of the 2021-22 application year, for the 2022-23 application year ED’s requirements will revert to the 2021-22 requirements that were in place prior to ED’s announcement of the waiver in July.
Noting the fact the waiver was issued by ED in July in response to the “ongoing global public health crisis and the challenges students and families were experiencing,” the lawmakers argue another waiver of verification requirements is necessary since COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise across the country.
“In addition to providing necessary relief during the global pandemic, this is also consistent with efforts to simplify and focus the FAFSA process more generally,” the lawmakers wrote. “Being selected for verification is an onerous event for students on top of an already overly complicated process to apply for financial aid, placing an additional burden on students to prove once again that they have financial need.”
Further, the letter points to the upcoming implementation of the FAFSA Simplification and FUTURE Acts in the 2024-25 award year as efforts to improve the verification process holistically and measures to prevent fraud and abuse.
“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we understand the importance of protecting the integrity of federal financial aid programs,” the lawmakers added. “However, that goal should not come at the cost of the low-income students who need financial aid to pursue higher education.”
NASFAA recently partnered with the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) in a joint letter sent to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona calling on ED to extend the current verification relief before the new FAFSA cycle opens Oct. 1.
Publication Date: 9/22/2021