Can We Accept Copies Of Citizenship and Immigration Documents By Mail Or Electronically?

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This guidance is not award-year-specific and applies across award years.

Yes, in certain situations.

As a general rule, the student must provide original documentation to the financial aid office supporting his or her claim to be a U.S. citizen or national (e.g., birth certificate, passport, Certificate of Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization, etc.) or to be an eligible noncitizen (e.g., Permanent Resident Card I-551, Resident Alien Card I-551, Arrival Departure Record I-94, etc.). The financial aid office can then photocopy the documentation for purposes of confirming the student’s eligibility for Title IV financial aid purposes.

There may be instances where a student may be unable to easily present the documentation in person to the financial aid office, including but not limited to distance education students who rarely or never appear on campus and students who are located far from the institution during periods of nonenrollment. This included students who were unable to come to campus due to COVID-19.

The institution may choose to have a written policy which allows such students to photocopy, photograph, scan, or otherwise electronically image their citizenship or immigration documents and send them to the financial aid office electronically or in paper form for processing and third step verification via the SAVE System (if necessary). If the school has such a policy, it should, but is not required to, have a process in place to ensure the student is submitting an exact copy of each document, such as a signed written statement or notarized affidavit from the student attesting that it is a true and exact copy. While a signed statement or notarized affidavit is not required, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) recommends that schools use one.

NASFAA has confirmed the above guidance with ED.

See Dear Colleague Letter GEN-15-08 for additional guidance on providing citizenship and immigration documentation to the financial aid office, including a sample affidavit form which must be notarized if used. See "U.S. citizenship documentation" and "Eligible Noncitizens and Documentation" in Volume 1, Chapter 2 of the FSA Handbook for additional guidance on the types of documentation that are acceptable for documenting U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status.

The above guidance also applies to parents who need to confirm their citizenship status for purposes of obtaining a parent PLUS.

Note: Emailing copies of citizenship documents would not be appropriate unless the email or emailed attachment is properly secure and encrypted.

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