13B.08.10.13

.13 Verification of Eligibility.

A. In-House Verification by OSFA.

(1) OSFA annually shall verify a percentage of all new Educational Excellence Award applications to determine if they contain accurate information.

(2) OSFA shall verify Educational Excellence Award applications for recipients identified by OSFA, or by institutions, based upon:

(a) Whether the information contained in the application has discrepancies from the information contained in the FAFSA or MSFAA; or

(b) Whether the applicant misreported dependency status, State residency status, or status related to eligibility for in-State tuition.

(3) OSFA may randomly select applications for verification.

(4) An applicant who filed a MSFAA and is selected for verification may only be verified by OSFA.

(5) Selected recipients are required to provide documentation of financial data and to verify dependency and State residency or eligibility for in-State tuition.

(6) OSFA annually shall verify the eligibility status of at least 25 percent of GA Grant award recipients.

(7) Initial GA Grant applicants shall submit a high school transcript or documentation of GED scores.

(8) Initial and renewal GA Grant recipients shall provide documentation of financial data to verify eligibility as requested by OSFA.

(9) OSFA shall notify a student who has been selected for verification in writing, and shall advise the student that the student is required to provide the following documents within the time specified in the notification:

(a) A Maryland Office of Student Financial Assistance Dependent or Independent Verification Form to verify:

(i) Number of individuals in the household who will attend or are enrolled in college;

(ii) Household size; and

(iii) Other untaxed income;

(b) As applicable, the Maryland State tax return, IRS tax transcript, federal tax return, or IRS data retrieved through the FAFSA, W-2 forms, 1099, or Schedule C of the student, studentís parents, and studentís spouse, to verify:

(i) Adjusted gross income;

(ii) Income taxes paid;

(iii) Untaxed portions of IRA distributions;

(iv) Untaxed portions of pensions;

(v) Tax exempt interest income;

(vi) Education credits; and

(vii) State residency or eligibility for in-State tuition; and

(c) If deemed necessary by OSFA, a Non Tax Filer Statement for the student, studentís parents, or studentís spouse.

(10) Awards may not be issued for students who fail to provide the requested information by the deadline established by OSFA.

(11) Students who provide the requested documentation shall be verified in accordance with the procedures established by OSFA. Awards for students with errors shall be recalculated and adjusted or canceled in accordance with this chapter.

(12) OSFA annually shall perform an independent review for a select percentage of GA Grant recipients that were verified in-house. This process shall occur between July 1 and December 1. If a discrepancy is found during the review process, OSFA reserves the right to make necessary adjustments to a studentís award and shall notify the student in writing.

B. Institutional Verification.

(1) The institutions annually shall verify application information for a percentage of all new Educational Excellence Award recipients to determine if students are submitting accurate financial data.

(2) OSFA shall select a minimum of 25 percent of all students who have received an EA Grant and were flagged for federal verification. Lists of the selected students shall be submitted to the institutions the students are attending.

(3) After students are selected for EA Grant verification under §B(2) of this regulation, each applicable institution shall use the U.S. Department of Educationís Title IV financial aid rules and regulations to verify the:

(a) Taxable and non-taxable income of the student and, if a dependent student, the studentís parents;

(b) Household size;

(c) Number of individuals in the household that will attend or are enrolled in college;

(d) Enrollment status (undergraduate or graduate);

(e) Housing status;

(f) Dependency status;

(g) Expected Family Contribution; and

(h) Transaction number of Institutional Student Information Report used.

(4) Institutions shall provide updated and verified data to OSFA by the date established by OSFA annually.

(5) Information verified by the institutions shall be used to update OSFA records.

(6) Awards for students with corrections and errors shall be recalculated and adjusted or canceled as specified in this chapter.

(7) A public institution of higher education in the State or a private nonprofit institution of higher education that is eligible for State aid under Education Article, §17-103, Annotated Code of Maryland, may, in accordance with §§B(8)—(18) of this regulation, verify the eligibility of a GA Grant applicant who:

(a) Filed a FAFSA; and

(b) Is an admitted student at or has applied for admission to the institution for the next academic year.

(8) An institution that may verify the eligibility of a GA grant applicant under §B(7) of this regulation shall elect to do so by notifying OSFA each year by the deadline established by OSFA.

(9) Portability of Institutional Verification.

(a) An applicant who has been verified by an institution that elects to verify GA Grant eligibility is not obligated to attend the institution performing the verification.

(b) A verification obtained by an applicant under this regulation may be used at any institution at which a GA Grant may be used under Education Article, §18-305, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(c) The amount of the GA Grant awarded to an applicant may be adjusted in accordance with the cost of attendance at the institution at which the applicant uses the award.

(10) An institution that elects to verify GA Grant eligibility shall:

(a) Verify that an applicant qualifies for a GA grant under this chapter;

(b) Evaluate the applicantís income eligibility criteria, as established by the Office, using the V1 standard Title IV financial aid verification process;

(c) For all applicants verified, regardless of their enrollment status at the institution, maintain all verification records for a period of 5 years after the end date of the award year associated with the applicantís last award;

(d) As part of and in accordance with the regulations for the institutionís annual EEA Program audit submitted under COMAR 13B.08.19, provide the Commission with an audit of the institutionís verification process, to assess:

(i) Accuracy of award eligibility determination performed by the institution;

(ii) Compliance with the requirements of the V1 standard Title IV financial aid verification process;

(iii) Accuracy of reporting by the institution to the Office in the Institutional Student Information Record; and

(iv) Compliance with §§B(7)—(18) of this regulation; and

(e) Meet any other requirements established by the Office.

(11) Annually between October 1 and March 1 prior to the award year, OSFA will provide a list to participating institutions that identifies applicants who must submit supplemental documentation in the following categories:

(a) Initial applicants who must verify that their high school GPA or GED scores meet the threshold in Regulation .03 of this chapter;

(b) Initial applicants who must verify that their high school GPA or GED scores meet the threshold in Regulation .03 of this chapter and who have been selected for verification of income eligibility; and

(c) Renewal applicants who have been selected for verification of income eligibility.

(12) An institution shall verify, as applicable:

(a) For all applicants, FAFSA completion date;

(b) For applicants who have obtained their GED, GED scores;

(c) For applicants in high school:

(i) That the applicant is in their senior year; and

(ii) The applicantís unweighted cumulative high school GPA at the end of their first semester of senior year; and

(d) For applicants selected for income verification:

(i) Number of people in applicantís household; and

(ii) All criteria required by the federal VI standard financial aid verification.

(13) A participating institution shall establish a communication process to notify, in writing, applicants who are required to submit supplemental information or documentation for verification.

(14) An institution may use their own institutional forms to collect supplemental information or documentation required for verification.

(15) After verification and as applicable, an institution shall report to OSFA, by the deadline established by OSFA:

(a) An applicantís unweighted GPA or GED scores; and

(b) The Institutional Student Information Record the institution used to complete an applicantís federal V1 verification.

(16) An institutionís failure to timely report an applicantís information as required under §B(15) of this regulation may cause the applicant to become ineligible for the GA Grant.

(17) In the event that an applicant is verified by more than one institution, the information most recently reported under §B(15) of this regulation, at the time awards are made, shall be used by OSFA to select applicants.

(18) In the event that an applicant is verified by both an institution and OSFA, the information obtained by OSFA shall be used by OSFA to select applicants.