‘Verification Melt’ Keeps Students from College Dreams

A little over half of all students who were eligible for the Pell Grant were selected for verification in 2015-16.

The procedure, which requires students to submit additional paperwork to prove their income, inserts an extra step into the financial aid process. And in an op-ed published by The Hill this week, Justin Draeger—president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators—voiced concerns that verification keeps some students from attending college.

“The National College Access Network estimates that more than 1 in 5 low-income students selected for verification will experience ‘verification melt’ and never complete the process, effectively preventing them from obtaining the necessary funds to pursue a college degree or certificate,” Draeger wrote.

His suggestion? Fix the FAFSA by importing tax and other information from sources that have already been verified by the federal government.

“Low-income students already face incredible challenges when it comes to preparing for and being accepted into college,” Draeger wrote. “Securing the financial means to pay for that education should not be one of them.”

Check out the full op-ed and read more about summer melt.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

3 thoughts on “‘Verification Melt’ Keeps Students from College Dreams”

  1. The ability to import federal tax information into the FAFSA directly from the IRS has been available for at least two aid years. The FAFSA also checks data elements against various federal agencies to confirm validity; such as, the Dept of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, Dept of Defense, etc.

  2. The 17-18 admissions cycle showed the highest percentage of verifications at my predominantly low-income school than EVER before. After speaking with the Dep’t of Ed, they reported a “glich” in the IRS Data Retrieval Tool that imports tax information onto the FAFSA. That glich negatively impacted all the early FAFSA applicants (Oct – Dec). Essentially, low-income students that applied early were then forced to provide a slew of additional paperwork. I believe universities should have the right to override the verification designation if they can legitimately confirm that they have enough info to make a financial aid decision. It unnecessarily clogs up their work as well.

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