GN 03340.060 Requests for Information for Pell Grants
Pell grants are awards to students under the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (BEOG) Program. In determining a student's eligibility for a grant, the Department of Education (DOEd) must consider all title II and title XVI payments made to the student and members of his or her household during the previous calendar year.
For example, for awards covering school year 1990 - 1991, this means all payments received by or for the student and his or her household from 1/1/89 - 12/31/89.
Each January, SSA gives DOEd tapes of all title II and title XVI amounts shown on the MBR and SSR as having been paid to students and other beneficiaries receiving payments on the same claimant's account number (CAN) as the student. This disclosure is made under the routine use provisions discussed in GN 03313.020A.2.
DOEd runs the tape against Pell grant applications and, where it appears that a student may have under reported payments, DOEd sends the student a notice to that effect. The student then has an opportunity to either revise or reiterate his or her statement of income.
If the student's new report still does not fall within a certain range of what SSA's records showed, DOEd sends the student a Pell Grant Validation Form for the student and his or her parents to fill out.
As part of this process, the student must obtain from SSA a statement of the title II and title XVI benefit amounts paid to the student and his or her household in the appropriate year. In most cases, DOEd will give the student a Social Security Verification Form for this purpose.
NOTE: A person does not have to have the same mailing address as the student for DOEd to consider him or her part of the student's “household.”
FOs should not attempt to answer questions about Pell grants except to reiterate that DOEd is interested in payments to the student and members of his or her household during the previous calendar year.
Refer other questions about Pell grants, such as who is considered a member of the household, how grants are figured, etc., to the Federal Student Aid Information Center. The toll-free telephone number is 1-800-4FED AID (1-800-433-3243). Students should call 1-301-722-9200 for status of student aid reports.
SSA offices, of course, should answer SSA-related questions such as how to determine the individual's benefits, how to obtain a benefit statement, etc.
1. For Whom Statements May Be Given
Give the student benefit information about the following individuals:
The student himself or herself,
Anyone receiving benefits on the student's SSN,
The student's minor children or individuals for whom he or she is the legal guardian, and
Any other individual who has consented in writing to the disclosure.
Obtain written consent to release information about other Pell grant household members (i.e., parents, siblings).
Deny under FOIA exemption 6 (see GN 03301.000 ff. and GN 03350.000 ff.) requests for information about individuals other than those listed above. A verbal denial generally is appropriate if no formal written request was made.
2. Preparation of the Statement
Complete the Social Security Verification Form given to the student by DOEd.
If the student does not have the Verification Form, provide the required benefit information using either:
Form SSA-2458 (Report of Confidential Social Security Benefit Information),
A BEVE query response,
Form SSA-L634 (with TPQY response or other attachment), or
A piece of Social Security letterhead.
Complete the form or letterhead with all of the information that would otherwise be shown on the Verification Form.
DOEd instructs the student to list on the Verification Form all members of his or her Pell grant household and SSNs for himself or herself and his or her parents. Provide information only about payments made:
If a listed household member does not receive payments on one of the SSNs, show him or her as “Not a Recipient”. DOEd will also tell the student to note any circumstances under which any of the listed beneficiaries may not have received full benefits for which they are eligible.
3. Information for the Statement
a. Use of In-Office Records
Make every effort to respond to student requests for benefit statements without asking for a folder review. When possible, use the PHUS query to verify title II benefits and the SSID query to verify title XVI payments.
If the student disagrees with the PHUS or SSID query response, check the SSA-250 file, the on-line ROAR and any notices the student may have received from SSA indicating an overpayment, underpayment, work, etc.
b. Folder Review
A folder review will be necessary if you cannot determine the actual amounts paid. Before initiating the review:
Fill out the Verification Form showing, where possible, payments actually made or that a person was not a recipient.
Fill in the amount that was due for the individuals whose payments are in question and note that a folder search will be conducted.
Photocopy the Verification Form and give the original to the student.
To initiate the folder review:
If title XVI payments are involved, see 4. below.
If title II benefits are involved, see 5. below.
4. Unresolved Discrepancies (Title XVI)
To resolve discrepancies about title XVI payments, the FO should request the SSI folder from the FSF.
After reviewing the folder and resolving the discrepancies, fill out the Verification Form with the amount of payment actually made. Send the form to the Department of Education, SSA Inquiry, Student Verification, P.O. Box 23185, Washington, D.C. 20013.
5. Unresolved Discrepancies (Title II)
a. FO Action - Material to be Forwarded
If you are unable to resolve a discrepancy involving one or more title II beneficiaries, forward the case to the PSC or ODIO for resolution. Include the following material:
A photocopy of the DOEd Form 623 (Social Security Verification Form), or
An SSA-2458, BEVE query or SSA-L634 (with TPQY query or other attachment), or
A piece of SSA letterhead containing all the information that would have been shown on the form if the beneficiary did not bring the Verification Form 623 to the FO.
b. FO Action - Addresses to Use
Use the following addresses:
Appropriate PSC address
ATTN: Exception and Inquiries Examiner
DI Cases:Office of Disability and
1500 Woodlawn Drive
Baltimore, MD 21241-1500
ATTN: The appropriate module process branch inquiries staff
NOTE: Route DI cases of beneficiaries age 54 or over to the appropriate PSC rather than to ODIO.
Foreign Cases:International Operations
P.O. Box 17769
Baltimore, MD 21235-7769
ATTN: Exception and Inquiries Examiner
Annotate the transmittal sheet “Pell Grant Program” and include the number holder's SSN, names of beneficiaries for which information is to be furnished, and the address of the DOEd office the form should be sent to when completed.
c. PSC or ODIO Action
Upon receipt of the form and claims folder:
Ascertain from folder review the total amount of benefits actually paid to each beneficiary listed on the transmittal during the period of January 1 - December 31 of the prior year.
Enter this amount in the appropriate block on the Verification Form.
Prepare a photocopy of the form for folder documentation purposes.
Forward the completed Verification Form to the module typist for preparation of an envelope and subsequent release to: The Department of Education
P.O. Box 23185
Washington, D.C. 20013.
If a transmittal sheet is not attached to the Social Security Verification Form, process as above furnishing the verification for the beneficiaries listed on the form and send the verified form to DOEd.