So, you completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and now the college needs additional documents to process your financial aid.  You ask yourself, “How can this be?  I thought I provided all of the required information …why are they asking for more?”  Let me explain how the process works and what verification is all about!

How does the FAFSA process work?

After submitting your FAFSA, your information goes to the Federal Processing Center.  They review your application to make sure your name, Social Security number, and date of birth match what is on file at the Social Security Administration. If the data matches, your application will then be sent to the college(s) you listed on the FAFSA.  At that same time, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR).  Review the SAR to make sure that your information was entered correctly.  On the top of your SAR, you will see your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). If there is an asterisk (*) behind your EFC number, your FAFSA was selected for verification. That means the college will need to verify your FAFSA by requesting additional documents. If selected for verification, you must complete the process before financial aid can be awarded. Submit documents in a timely manner to qualify for the most financial aid possible.

Commonly requested documents include:

  • Household verification form
  • Printout of child support paid or received
  • Receipt of food stamps or SNAP benefits
  • IRS tax transcripts
  • Confirmation of non-tax filers
  • W2’s
  • Court or caseworker paperwork for guardianship or wards of the court
  • Any other conflicting or inconsistent information

How are FAFSAs selected for verification?

Verification is used to confirm that data provided on your FAFSA was correctly entered.  About 30% of all FAFSA filers are selected for verification, so it does not mean that you’ve done anything wrong!  Actually, some colleges verify 100% of the students who submit FAFSA applications. The main reasons for being selected are:

  • Random selection
  • Missing information
  • Inconsistent information
  • Estimated tax information
  • Failure to use the IRS Data Retrieval process

Not all students selected for verification are chosen for the same reasons. Verification is a federal regulation put in place to prevent ineligible students from receiving aid, and to ensure that eligible students are offered all of the aid they qualify to receive.

Where do I send the verification documents?

All documents must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office(s) at the colleges requesting them as soon as possible!  Typically the verification processing takes up to two weeks, after you have turned in all necessary documentation.  When your packet is complete, the college will then post your financial aid award to your student portal or mail your award letter to you.

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