Citizenship

All Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSAs) are sent electronically to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a match. The U.S. Department of Education matches these applications against the SSA to verify citizenship status if you report you are a U.S. citizen. If you report you are an eligible non-citizen (e.g., permanent resident or conditional permanent resident with an Alien Registration Number), the Department will send your FAFSAs to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) for a match.

U.S. Citizenship Verification

If you are a US citizen or national and the SSA cannot match your social security number, name, or date of birth, your citizenship status will not be verified. The Student Aid Report (SAR) and Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) will contain a "C" code and a comment that US citizenship cannot be confirmed. In this case, you will need to provide one of the following documents to the Financial Aid Office to verify citizenship:

  • Birth Certificate
  • US Passport (current or expired)
  • Certificate of Citizenship from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Certificate of Naturalization from the USCIS
  • Form FS-240 ("Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States")
  • Form FS-545 ("Certificate of Birth--Foreign Service")
  • Form DS-135 ("Certificate of Birth")
  • BCIS Form G-639 ("Freedom of Information Act Form")

US Permanent Resident (and other Eligible Non-citizen) Verification

Primary confirmation is performed by the USCIS utilizing the Alien Registration Number you provided on the FAFSA. If the database match with immigration records does not confirm your claim to be an eligible non-citizen, the USCIS will automatically check if it has documentation that determines your citizenship.
Schools have to wait at least five but no more than 15 business days for the result of automated secondary confirmation. If the result has not been received by that time, the school begins the paper secondary confirmation process (described below). If your status as a permanent resident or other eligible non-citizen is not confirmed, a "C" code and comment to that effect will ultimately appear on your SAR and ISIR. A secondary paper confirmation process will then be required if your status is not confirmed or if the school has conflicting information about your citizenship status. The following steps are required to complete secondary confirmation.

  1. You will receive notification in writing from the Office of Financial Aid that documentation is required. You must submit original documentation in support of your claim of eligible non-citizenship status to the Office of Financial Aid within 30 days of this notification. If you fail to submit proof within this timeframe, you may be found ineligible for federal student aid. Examples of such documentation include:
    • Alien Registration Receipt Card (Forms I-151 or I-551 commonly referred to as "green cards")
    • A Passport or Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) which has one of the following stamps:

      "Processed for I-551. Temporary Evidence of lawful Admission for Permanent Residence. Valid until; ____________. Employment Authorized;"

      or

      Temporary form I-551. Admission for permanent residence

      at __________ [port] on __________ [date]

      verified. ____________________

      [signature of issuing officer] ______________ [title]."

      This I-94 will also contain the individual's photo and an BCIS seal over the photo and the stamp.

      [Documentation provided as proof of a student's citizenship status may legally be photocopied by the student, as long as the photocopies are made for this lawful purpose.]

  2. Within 10 business days of receipt of this documentation, the Office of Financial Aid will initiate secondary confirmation by completing Form G-845S ("Document Verification Request"). This form is forwarded to the USCIS File Control Office to confirm that an alien non-citizen’s documentation is authentic.
  3. Within 10 working days of receipt, a status-verifier at the US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services will complete the "BCIS Response" section of the G-845S and return it to the Office of Financial Aid. This response contains the results of the BCIS evaluation of the documents.
  4. Within 10 business days of receipt of USCIS determination, the Office of Financial Aid will notify the student of his or her eligibility to receive federal financial assistance.
  5. The final deadline to resolve this problem is 45 days prior to the last day of the academic period for which the loan is sought.

Selective Service Registration

The Selective Service System requires that most males from age 18 through 25--including permanent residents and other eligible non-citizens--register. Anyone required to register with Selective Service must have done so in order to be eligible for federal financial aid.

If you are unconfirmed you must submit a Selective Service Registration Acknowledgment or Letter of Registration to the Office of Financial Aid. If you did not register but were on active duty in the armed forces--not the reserve forces, the Delayed Entry pool, or the National Guard--you are still eligible for federal financial assistance. In this instance, you should provide the Financial Aid Office with DD Form 214, "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty."

If the Office of Financial Aid cannot document that you meet one of the allowable exemptions or that you served in active duty in the armed forces, you must contact the Selective Service and obtain a Status Information Letter. To expedite this process, please go to their web site to print the Request for Status Information Letter form: www.sss.gov/pdfs/infoform.pdf. Instructions for completing this form are found at: www.sss.gov/pdfs/instructions.pdf. Upon receipt of this completed form, the Selective Service System will provide you with your Status Information Letter documenting one of the following: you were not required to register; you were required to register but did not; or they have no record of your registration. In the latter two cases, the Financial Aid Officer must determine whether you knowingly and willfully failed to register. The Financial Aid Officer’s decision is final and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education. The final deadline to resolve this problem is 45 days prior to the last day of the academic period for which the loan is sought.

Valid Social Security Numbers

To be eligible for federal financial assistance, you most hold a valid Social Security Number (SSN). The Social Security Administration (SSA) conducts a match on FAFSA information to verify whether your SSN is correct and that it corresponds to your name and date of birth.

Discrepancy on Date of Birth

If your date of birth is incorrect on the FAFSA, a correction should be submitted. If the date of birth is correct on the FAFSA your should contact the SSA to correct its records.

Discrepancy on Name

If you used a nickname or a changed name, a correction to the FAFSA should be made. If your name is correct on the FAFSA you should contact the SSA to resolve the discrepancy.

Loan Defaults and Overpayments

By completing and signing a FAFSA, you certify that you are not in default on any federal student financial assistance (FSA) loan. This includes student loans made under the Federal Perkins, Federal Direct, or Federal Family Education Loan Programs (FFELP). Additionally, you are certifying that you do not owe an overpayment on any FSA grant. FSA grants comprise the Federal Pell Grant, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), or a State Student Incentive Grant (now renamed Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program). To determine if you are in default or owe a repayment, a match is conducted with the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). The results of this match are provided to financial aid administrators on the ISIR output, "NSLDS Financial Aid History." If you are ineligible due to a defaulted student loan or because a federal grant refund is owed you will receive a "C" code on your SAR and ISIR.

Loan Defaults

In order to regain eligibility for federal financial assistance, you must either repay the loan in full or make repayment arrangements that are satisfactory to the loan holder and that are in accordance with the individual FSA loan program regulations. After making six consecutive, full, voluntary payments on time, you will regain eligibility the semester following resolution of the defaulted loan.

Overpayments

If an overpayment on any of the FSA grants has been made, you generally are responsible for repaying the amount. If a school is unable to recover a Pell Grant, FSEOG or Perkins loan overpayment, the school reports this overpayment information online to the NSLDS database and/or to the US Department of Education’s Debt Collection Service. The information is subsequently output onto your ISIR as "NSLDS Financial Aid History." You will not be eligible for federal financial assistance until you repay or make satisfactory arrangements to repay the overpayment. Again, eligibility will be reinstated the semester following resolution of the overpayment situation.

Back to top


Updated: 2016-04-21, 15:03