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The Department of Education will not be targeting its federal aid verification process for the 2022-23 award year, ending a temporary change put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic to alleviate challenges students face in accessing financial aid.

The verification process -- which requires a subset of federal student aid applicants to submit additional documentation verifying information on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- will continue as it was prior to the pandemic, according to a Federal Register notice announcing information to be verified for the 2022-23 award year. The usual process often adds additional burdens for students, especially those who are low income or students of color.

The announcement was met with opposition by stakeholders, who noted that the verification process often leads to lower FAFSA completions and college enrollment. Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and Kim Cook, CEO of the National College Attainment Network, called on the department to reverse its decision prior to the release of the 2022-23 FAFSA in October.

“Not extending these waivers for 2022-23 will have serious negative consequences for both students and schools,” Draeger said. “All of the reasons that ED cited for offering these waivers previously will continue to exist next year.”

Cook added that extending the relief will allow advisers and counselors to spend more time supporting students and less time on paperwork, which will be important as institutions work to build back from enrollment drops for students from low-income backgrounds.

"The changes the Department of Education made to help students during the end of the pandemic-impacted 2021-22 cycle are also smart policies to continue to reduce barriers to college access for underserved students," Cook said.