Signing the Statement of Educational Purpose Amid COVID-19

By Kimberly Cravotta, FAAC® | February 18, 2021

NOTE: Following new guidance, we updated this article on March 17, 2021.

Recently, we have been receiving questions from institutions whether electronic signatures are acceptable for the Statement of Educational Purpose (SEP).

Under normal circumstances, students sign this document at an institution’s financial aid office or in front of a notary public, making a “wet,” or physical, signature. However, with pandemic measures meaning many students or administrators are still remote, a normal signature may be impossible.

After reaching out to the Department of Education (ED), we received clarification that a student can submit their SEP electronically, via online portal, email attachment or text message attachment. However, students should still provide a “wet” or physical signature on the document. Following that, they can scan or take a photograph of the document before submitting electronically.

However, ED clarified recently that schools may accept an electronic signature from student who used a stylus or finger to sign the document, or an image of the borrower’s signature can be affixed to the document.

The waiver for in-person SEP submissions will remain in place through the end of the first payment period that begins after the date the COVID-19 national emergency ends.

ED also covered this information in an electronic announcement on Jan. 15, 2021 (see the section on “general extensions”).

For further questions regarding financial aid and procedures, feel free to schedule a call with our experts.

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