Applying for Aid

Applying For Federal Student Financial Aid

Each student interested in receiving financial assistance must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or provide a copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR) if the FAFSA was previously completed for the current award year. The FAFSA is free to fill out, and students do not need to pay for assistance completing it.

The Financial Aid Office will use the results of the FAFSA to determine the student’s financial aid eligibility.  Students should refer to www.studentaid.ed.gov, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, for more detailed information about filling out the FAFSA.

Verification

A student’s application may be selected for a process known as verification. The verification process requires the school to validate certain information submitted on the FAFSA. The student will be required to submit supporting documentation. Need-based Federal Student Aid funds will not be awarded until the verification process has been completed.  

If the verification process is not completed, the student will be responsible for making payments to the school to cover the amount owed for which aid was not received. 

Each year the U.S. Department of Education requires schools participating in the distribution of federal student aid to verify the consistency and accuracy of data submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This verification process involves the review of tax documents and household information to ensure the accuracy of the FAFSA application. To complete verification, students and parents, as applicable, are asked to submit federal tax documents and forms to the ISSA Financial Aid Office.

Who is selected:  Any student who completes a FAFSA may be chosen for verification by the Department of Education. Nationwide, about 30% of all FAFSA applications are selected this way.

In addition, ISSA also requires verification for all undergraduate students who have submitted a special circumstance review form to request a professional judgment be performed.

Student selected for any of the reasons listed above will will have the Verification Forms (Independent and Dependent) emailed to them. To avoid delays in the award packaging and disbursement process students should complete the forms and return them to the Financial Aid Office via upload to their Populi student portal as soon as possible.

Submitting forms and documents to ISSA:  Scanned documents should be uploaded to the student's Fianncial Aid Application for the appropriate award year, under the "Financial Aid" section of the Financial tab of their Populi student portal. Financial Aid staff are notified when documents are uploaded. To be opened by ISSA, emailed documents should be clearly labeled with a subject and text in the body of the email.

If possible using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (discussed below) is the easiest and most secure way to verify income and tax information.

Some students selected for verification will be required to provide a notarized Statement of Educational Purpose. The original document with signatures is required, so these must be mailed directly to the ISSA Financial Aid Office.

Always keep a copy of submitted documents for your records.

The ISSA Financial Aid Office will verify all mandatory items identified by the U.S. Department of Education (household size, the number in college, number of exemptions, adjusted gross income, taxes paid, untaxed income, untaxed IRS distributions, educational credits, IRA deductions, tax exempt interest). In addition, some students will be required to verify High School/GED completion status as well as complete a statement of Educational Purpose. ISSA can also verify discretionary items as we see fit.

After the initial verification document request has been met, ISSA will compare the information provided on the FAFSA and might ask for additional information if we find discrepancies that cannot be explained.

Conflicting Information

Students are responsible for reporting accurate information on the FAFSA, regardless of whether a student is selected for verification. If ISSA has access to information it considers to be in conflict, the student may be asked to explain discrepancies, provide supporting documents and/or make corrections to their FAFSA to resolve the issue.

If the conflicting information is not resolved, Federal Student Aid funds will not be awarded and the student will be responsible for making payments to the school to cover amount owed for which aid was not received.

Changes to Eligibility

Students whose financial aid information requires reprocessing, based on the verification process or resolution of conflicting information, may have FAFSA corrections electronically processed by ISSA. Any corrections will generate an updated Student Aid Report (SAR) which will be sent to the student by the Central Processing System (CPS). The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) may change based on the corrections made.

If you have received a financial aid estimate before completing verification and resolving all conflicting information, your aid eligibility will be reevaluated by your financial aid adviser. You will be notified if your awards change.

If conflicting information is discovered after aid is awarded or disbursed, ISSA must resolve the conflicting information and the student will be required to repay aid received in excess of his/her eligibility. All conflicts must be resolved regardless of whether the student was selected for verification or not.

Timeline and deadlines: Please allow three weeks for the verification process to be completed, once all items have been submitted. The process may take longer if we receive incomplete documents or require additional information.

Financial aid funds cannot be officially disbursed until verification is completed. Return the requested documents to us as soon as possible.

To avoid a delay in the processing of your aid and having a hold placed on your account; verification must be completed by the registration deadline for your first quarter you intend to receive aid in a school year. Please ensure that the results of your FAFSA have been received by the ISSA Financial Aid Office at least 35 days prior to the quarter start date to allow enough time to receive instructions and gather verification documents. Deadlines are summarized below:

2018-2019 Please Complete Actions By
Actions To Complete Summer 2018 Fall 2018 Winter 2019
2018-2019 FAFSA results received by ISSA May 28, 2018 Aug 27, 2018 Dec 3, 2018
Verification documents received by ISSA Required Corrections made to 2018-2019 FAFSA Jun 22, 2018 Sep 21 ,2017 Dec 14, 2018
Accept financial aid package in Populi student portal Complete Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note for Direct Loans Make payment of any remaining student portion of tuition due Jul 11, 2018 Oct 10, 2018 Jan 16, 2019

If student does not submit a FAFSA, FAFSA corrections or verification documents by the above dates, aid may still be disbursed. However, it may be on a delayed schedule which may lead to a hold on a student's future registration if there is a balance due. The absolute cut off for any verification to be completed for the 2017-18 academic year is June 1, 2018. The cut off for 2018-19 is May 31, 2019.

In some cases, ISSA may request a Low Income Explanation Form, if the dependent/independent student and/or family income/assets listed on the 18-19 FAFSA and reviewed during verification appear insufficient to support the number of people reported in your household, relative to the current U.S. Poverty Guidelines published at https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines. In order for ISSA to verify your eligibility for federal student aid, we may need additional information to document your means of support.

Documents: In addition to the Verification Forms (Independent and Dependent), as applicable, students (and their parent(s), if dependent) chosen for verification will be required to submit a copy of their completed 2016 federal tax return information via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA (preferred) or an IRS Return Transcript, which can be ordered at http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Order-a-Transcript. This is a requirement from the Department of Education to guarantee the accuracy of the information reported on the FAFSA to insure that federal aid is awarded properly. Except in specific unusual filing scenarios, noted below, photocopies of personal returns are not acceptable for this documentation requirement.

If you filed your 2016 federal tax return electronically you should be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA or request a Tax Return Transcript within 2 weeks. If you filed a paper return, you should be able to use either process within 6-8 weeks. For a step by step demonstration of the IRS DRT process, please watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZNRdk3iXeM. If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and amend taxes, you will be required to submit a copy of the IRS Tax Return Transcript.

Not all students can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If any of the following apply to the student or parent (as applicable), he/she cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and will have to submit a Tax Return Transcript to ISSA.

  • The student/parent indicated they will file or are not going to file a federal income tax return.

  • (You will be given the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool only if you indicate that you have already completed your federal income tax return.)

  • The student/parent does not have a valid Social Security Number.

  • The student/parent marital status changed after December 31.

  • 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 parents living together."

  • The student/parent filed an amended tax return.

  • The student/parent filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return.