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I recently turned in my FAFSA and I was notified that I was going to be going under the verification process. This wasn't a surprised to me since I was verified for the last three years without any problems. They would ask for my parent's tax forms, household statements, student non filer statements and income statements which I filled out and gave them without any problems. This is year is different however.
Under the question that asked for the amount of money in my bank account on the day I filed my FAFSA I initially put in the amount I believed was there, which was a quite a large sum of amount of money. I later realized that the amount I put there was not correct because it was only the amount I had in my savings, and that the amount should be higher so after the FAFSA was processed and I was able to assess it to correct it I realized that amount I put there should not include financial aid, which it did. I was unsure of what to put in the field now since I read that that question should not be changed, so I wanted to make sure it was correct before I made any corrections. I also realized that I had questions about whether or not i should file my taxes even though most of the money I receive is from financial aid.
Being the worrier that I am I spent the next week asking my parents, financial aid office, friends who filed the FAFSA also and the workers at FAFA.gov website whether or not I should file my taxes and whether or not I should include financial aid from my bank account. I was told by everyone that I should not have included the financial aid in that amount. At this point I was already asked for verification documents from my school. I decided that i would turn in my documents, then change whatever I needed to change on my FAFSA afterwards since Spring Break started the day after and I wasn't sure if the office would be open.
When I went to talk to a financial officer to turn in my documents she confirmed to me that I didn't need to file taxes. So that part was answered, and I turned in my documents. When I got home I took my billing statements and added all the refunds I had form scholarships and grants and subtracted it from the sum in my account. Since the aid exceeded the amount I just put 0 as the new number.
Right after I changed and submitted it I had to call my financial aid office to verify if they had my mother's w2 form since they didn't give me back the original copy after they copied it and also asked the officer about the question about the amount in the bank account just to make sure (I'm really neurotic). When I asked her that she asked me why was I going back to my FAFSA in a really accusing tone and attempted to explain me that it is the amount that is supposed to be the number that is in my account on the day i filed. I told her I knew that but that I was told that it should not include the amount from financial aid. She said that this was not the case, even though multiple people had told me otherwise. She then asked me whether or not all the money was from financial aid and I told her taht some was also from my parents, but I didn't know what amount was from whom so I just took the amount refunded to me in the beginning of 2010 til now and subtracted from my acount. Either she didn't understand what I was telling her, thought i was lying or I was completely wrong about the whole not including financial aid thing because she told me that they will request a copy of my bank statement to verify things, and will ask me why I changed the numbers. I asked if I should change my fafsa again to the correct number but she said that I should just wait for when they asked for the bank statements. So now I still don't know what really goes into that question.
I was completely upset about the whole thing, especially since the conversation with the financial aid officer seemed more like a trial that I had to defend myself then a friendly and informative consultation. I'm completely worried about the whole ordeal because I'm not really sure whats going to happen and what they are looking for in my statements. I changed my original number to 0 because I thought it didn't need to include financial aid money and my initial number was wrong so it wouldn't match the number in my bank account the day I filed FAFSA. Is there any chance that they will think that I am trying to commit fraud and fine me or take away my scholarship and grants?
I can assure anyone that if I was going to cheat the goverment, I wouldn't have reported such a high sum on in my bank account in the first place. I would gladly, in a heartbeat change it to the correct amount right now even if it means not getting any aid. ::sigh:: Overall, does anyone know how this process goes about? Are they just looking to see what the number is when I filed my FAFSA? After the whole talk on the phone with that counselor I just need some relief and peace of mind. It would suck to be subjected to investigation of fraud because of stupid mistakes and my own ignorance.