You’ve filed your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal student Aid), but now the college is asking for additional information.  You begin to question yourself, “How can that be?  Did I do something wrong? What is this verification thing they’re talking about?”  Well, never fear…we’ve got the answers!

After you’ve filed your FAFSA, your information goes to the Federal Processing Center.  Once there, it’s reviewed to make sure all Social Security numbers, dates of birth, etc. are a match with the information the Social Security Administration has on record.  Next, they “crunch” the numbers reported on the FAFSA and then pass that information to the college(s) that you listed on your application. This is where verification comes into play.

What is verification?

Verification is required by the federal government and is a mini-audit of the information you provided on your FAFSA.  About one-in-three FAFSA filers are selected for verification.  Actually, some colleges verify 100% of the students who submit their FAFSA….so as you can tell, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily did something wrong on yours!  Not all students that are selected for verification are chosen for the same reason.  It could be any of (but not limited to) the following reasons:

  • Inconsistent information
  • Missing signatures
  • Failure to use the IRS data retrieval tool
  • Random selection

How will you know if you’re selected for verification?

If you were chosen for verification, you’ll be notified by the college via postal mail, e-mail, or your college-based student account.  Carefully read any notifications from the college, and send any information they are requesting from you ASAP.  Keep in mind: the college cannot process your financial aid if you ignore their requests, and missing the verification deadline could impact the amount of financial aid you receive!

What documents might be needed?

Some of the more common documents requested include:

  • Household verification form (who you reported in the household on the FAFSA)
  • Printout of child support paid or received
  • Proof of SNAP or food stamp benefits
  • Copies of IRS tax transcripts and/or W2s
  • Confirmation of non-tax filing status
  • Court/caseworker documentation for guardianship, wards of court
  • Clarification or documentation of other conflicting or inconsistent information

How long does the verification process take?

After you have turned in all necessary paperwork, the verification process typically takes about two weeks.  Once your file is complete, the college will post your financial aid award notification to your student portal or mail your award letter to you.

Who do I contact for questions?

The FAFSA verification process isn’t something that should cause anxiety or stress.  If you have further questions or are unsure about what you need to do, contact your college’s financial aid office or the EducationQuest office nearest you!