High school seniors: How you doing?

Have you applied for admission to one or more colleges?  CHECK.

Have you filled out your FAFSA? CHECK.

Are you looking for, and applying for, as many scholarships as you can? IN PROGRESS.

Great! Things are moving along smoothly when suddenly…it happens.

You check your email inbox and you see a message from your college’s financial aid office. You have been selected for VERIFICATION! (Cue the dramatic music!)

Don’t worry…it’s not so bad.

Verification is when the financial aid office at your college is required to ask for further documentation to verify the FAFSA results they received. This isn’t a cause for alarm. Here are a few tips to help you complete the verification process:Verified Red Rubber Stamp

Check your email and/or your Student Portal account.

Colleges will communicate with you (the student) through email and through your online portal account from that specific college. Be sure to check your correspondence regularly. Don’t worry, the financial aid office will give you enough time to complete your verification process, but you have to stay on top of your communication with that college so that you don’t miss a verification request!

Students, not parents, are responsible for completing verification.

Due to privacy laws, financial aid offices will often communicate only with students, not parents, about this process.

  • Students: don’t assume that mom and dad can resolve this without any action on your part. You may have to request documents from your parents.
  • Parents: don’t assume you can handle this without any involvement from your student. You can assist your student by helping them round up whatever documentation is requested.

Verification is a time where students and parents will need to communicate with each other to ensure everything is completed.

What type of documents are required?

The financial aid office will specifically list the documents that you need to turn in for Verification. Although it depends on the information you listed on the FAFSA, some of the more frequently requested items include:

  • Household Verification Form (you list who is in your household)
  • Copies of W-2 forms (from parents, and/or from student)
  • Proof of SNAP Benefits / Food Stamps (if received in your household)
  • Proof of Child Support Paid from the household
  • Court or Caseworker Documentation for students in Legal Guardianships, Wards of the Court, and other extenuating legal circumstances
  • Clarification on any other conflicting or inconsistent information

What about taxes? Do I need to get anything from the IRS?

If you were able to complete the IRS Data Retrieval on the FAFSA, then the college will already have your verified tax information.

However, if you manually entered your tax information on FAFSA, you will need to request a Tax Return Transcript from IRS.gov. If you successfully request it online, it takes about 10 days for that document to be mailed to you. Once you get it, you can then send it to your college’s financial aid office.

Didn’t file taxes? You may need additional documents, too!

If parents or student did not have to file taxes, they may have to request a Verification of Non-Filing Letter from the IRS. This can be requested by filling out a form 4506-T and mailing or faxing that document to the IRS address on the back of the form. The IRS will then mail you a copy of that letter, which you can then share with your college’s financial aid office.

I’m confused. Where can I find help?

If you’re unsure about what you need to do for verification, you can contact your college’s financial aid office or the EducationQuest office nearest you.