Applying for Financial Aid

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Verification Process

Verification is a process used to confirm information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to ensure its accuracy.  Any student who completes a FAFSA may be selected for verification by the FAFSA processor for the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).  DOE uses data models to select students.  Selected students are assigned verification groups that determine the data elements each student has to verify.  The list of items to verify will be different across selected students.  NIU must follow all federal verification requirements for any selected students.  In addition to students selected by DOE, NIU selects a small number of students based on conflicting or inconsistent information or data that appears to have been submitted in error.

The data elements you may be asked to verify includes but is not limited to  the IRS adjusted gross income and taxes paid, income earned from work (for non-tax filers), certain untaxed income items, household size, number in college, receipt of food stamps/SNAP benefit, child support paid and any other inconsistent or conflicting information.   If you are selected for verification you should not assume that your data is incorrect or that you have done anything wrong.   Once you are selected for verification, please do not make changes to your FAFSA data.   Send the requested documents to us and we will make any necessary changes.

If you are selected for verification the documents you must provide with any necessary instructions will be posted on your MyNIU  “To Do List”.  You will receive an email from SFAO anytime an item is posted to that list.   Beginning in late January preceding a new academic year, NIU loads FAFSA data received from DOE into our student system and updates the To Do List.  For original FAFSAs for admitted and current students this occurs most business days.  FAFSA data received by NIU before a student is admitted is held in a temporary file and loaded once the student is admitted.  If a student’s name, social security number or date of birth is different on the FAFSA than in the NIU student system, the data is manually reviewed prior to processing. 

If a student makes changes to FAFSA data, NIU will receive a change file.  That file may require additional review before it is processed and the To Do List is updated.   This generally occurs within 3 business days but may take longer during peak processing periods.  If you make changes to your FAFSA after you have received a financial aid award or disbursement, all future disbursements will be put on hold until verification is complete.  If that verification results in a change to your aid eligibility you will receive a new financial aid award in no more than two weeks.

If information contained on a federal tax return must be verified, personal copies of a tax return cannot be used.  DOE only allows schools to use information from the IRS.  There are two allowable options

  • Update income information on your FAFSA with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.  This is the best option for timely submission.  The tax return has to be processed by the IRS before you can utilize this option.
  • Request an IRS Tax Return Transcript information.  Click here for more information on obtaining an IRS Tax Return Transcript.

Verification Processing Time and Deadlines

If selected for Verification, please submit all requested documentation as quickly as possible so that your aid application may be processed in a timely manner.   Verification review will begin once all verification documents are received.   While verification review is generally complete in one to two days, during peak processing times, particularly late summer, verification review may take up to two weeks. 

  • You will not receive an official Financial Aid Award and financial aid will not be disbursed to your student account until verification is complete.  
  • To receive a Pell Grant, if you are a student with a Pell eligible EFC on your last day of attendance you may submit verification documents through September 28, 2015 for 2014 – 2015, September 28, 2015 for 2015 – 2016 or within 120 days of your last day of attendance for an award year. 
  • For all other forms of federal aid, verification documents must be received in sufficient time to complete verification review, make any required changes to your FAFSA, receive the updated FAFSA output from DOE and award and originate aid by the last day of the last term within an award year that you will attend.   Although we will make every effort to serve you through your last day of attendance in an award year, the verification, packaging and origination process could take up to two weeks.  For a list of term dates click here.
  • The Illinois State Monetary Award Program, MAP Grant, also requires compliance with federal verification regulations.  Each year the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, ISAC, establishes billing deadlines for both Fall and Spring.  Students who submit verification documents after November 1 may lose any Fall MAP Grant eligibility and students who submit verification documents after April 1 may lose Spring eligibility. 

We are happy to provide an estimate of your financial aid eligibility based on unverified information upon request.

Verification requirements may be waived for students who are only eligible for a PLUS loan, unsubsidized Direct Loan, private scholarships and/or forms of aid that do not require a FAFSA to establish eligibility.