Mother and daughter looking at a laptop.You’ve submitted your college admission application(s) and filed your FAFSA …two big hurdles you’ve crossed in preparing for college next fall. Kudos to you!! You would think that it’s smooth sailing from here on out, but that’s not always the case.  Nearly 25% of all FAFSA applications are selected for a review process called verification.  Now you may be wondering; “What does Verification mean? Did I do something wrong when I completed the FAFSA? Am I in trouble? Why me?”  Read on to get these and many other verification questions answered.

How does the FAFSA process work?

Once your FAFSA has been submitted, it goes to the Federal Processing Center. Here, your personal information is reviewed to make sure it matches what the Social Security Administration has on record; names, social security numbers and dates of birth. They also “crunch” the numbers that were reported on the FAFSA and forward all of that information onto the college(s) that you listed on your FAFSA. At that same time, you will get an e-mail from Federal Student Aid which provides a link to your Student Aid Report (SAR) and lists your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  If there is an asterisk (*) behind your EFC number, that indicates that your FAFSA was selected for verification.

What Is Verification?

Verification is a process put into place by the U.S. Department of Education to confirm that the information reported on FAFSA forms is accurate. The purpose of verification is to make sure that colleges aren’t awarding need-based financial aid to students who don’t actually qualify. The Department of Ed notifies colleges who is selected for verification, and it’s the responsibility of the college to work with students to complete this process.

Am I in trouble?

Being selected for verification doesn’t mean that you’re in trouble. It really depends upon the Financial Aid office at each college, as well as the information that you reported on your FAFSA. The college is simply making sure they are awarding the correct amount of aid to their students. Some of the reasons (but not limited to) your FAFSA being verified are:

  • Your FAFSA had incomplete or conflicting information
  • Tax information was entered manually rather than using IRS Data Retrieval
  • Parent reported child support paid on the FAFSA
  • Your family qualifies for SNAP/Food Stamp benefits
  • You’re eligible for the Federal Pell Grant

How will I be notified of verification?

Each college you listed on your FAFSA will tell you what documents they are asking you to turn in to their Financial Aid Office.  You’ll be notified via postal mail, your e-mail or your student portal – which is your college-based student account. Due to privacy laws, the colleges cannot communicate with anyone other than the student…not even parents! Make sure that you’re checking these communication platforms regularly and taking action as soon as possible!  

Where do I send verification documents?

The college’s Financial Aid Department will provide their mailing address, e-mail address or fax number, and will indicate if they have a verification deadline. Keep in mind that colleges stop processing your financial aid package until you turn in the requested documents. Although verification isn’t a scary process, it is a very important one, and missing deadlines or not responding altogether will affect the types and amounts of aid you may have otherwise qualified to receive.

If you have further questions about the verification process, contact the Office of Financial Aid at your college or the EducationQuest office nearest you!