PPY FAFSA Verification and Use of Professional Judgment Authority

Early FAFSA Verification and Conflicting Information Resolution
The Early FAFSA is just a few months away and has had many a FA office stressing out a bit as they scramble to get ready for the October 1, 2016 launch.

In case you missed it – Beginning with the 2017-2018 cycle, the FAFSA will not only be available to students and families three months earlier, it will also collect income information from the tax/calendar year one year earlier than has been used in the past. Thus for the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and families will provide “Prior-Prior-Year” (PPY) income information from calendar year 2015 and not from calendar year 2016. Fortunately, almost all tax return filers will be able to electronically transfer their tax information directly into their FAFSA by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

FAFSA applicants filling out the 2017-2018 FAFSA that report income or taxes different from the 2016-2017 FAFSA will see a warning on the web, but as you can guess, there will be conflicting information that needs resolution at the campus level under PPY. Also under PPY, there are going to be more cases of FAO use of Professional Judgment Authority to make adjustments to the data elements used to calculate a student’s EFC.
At this year’s NASFAA conference, Jeff Baker jokingly noted “There’s an urban myth that ED has a quota or limit for PJ, which triggers a program review. That’s a myth. Mostly…”. He went on to explain that they look at outliers, like a high percentage of corrections resulting in lower EFCs…and not checking the PJ indicator. They’re going to look at those schools to see why that’s happening. Let’s not kid ourselves though; extreme use of PJ always has been and always will be a factor. Want to avoid being an outlier – here’s a simple trick that most of you are missing: When making a correction because a PJ, to a previously processed FAFSA check the PJ indicator on FAA Access to CPS. Boom. Easy. Look for a dear colleague letter on PPY and conflicting info coming out soon too.