Don’t Stumble Through the Verification Process

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It is possible that you may be selected for a process called verification after you have submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Verification is the process that schools sometimes use to confirm that data reported on the FAFSA is accurate. Your school or the Department of Education itself both have the authority to contact you to request additional documentation that supports income and other information that you reported.

Being selected for verification doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong; some schools may choose to verify applications at random. Your FAFSA might be flagged for verification due to incomplete data, or the information you supplied might need additional clarification. If you provided estimated information on your FAFSA, this will need to be finalized so a financial aid determination can be made.

You might be notified of the need for verification when you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). If there is an asterisk (*) next to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amount the Department of Education is requesting further clarification. You might also see a message on the SAR which indicates that additional information is required. You might receive a “missing information” email or a Verification Worksheet from your school. You shouldn’t be afraid of the verification process, but be sure any additional information you provide is helpful in building your case for financial aid. Types of documentation that might prove useful include:

• Taxes: You may be asked to complete an IRS Tax Return Transcript with additional information regarding your last tax statements.

• Marriage: The school might want to see a marriage or divorce certificate, documentation regarding alimony and child support judgments, or a certificate of death.

• Citizenship: This could include a request for alien registration information or a copy of a Social Security card.

If you are selected for verification, you must update your FAFSA if there is a change in the number of family members or in the number of people who are in college in your household or your parents’ household. Once your information is reviewed again, you will be notified of any changes with a revised Student Aid Report. 

Speed Is Important

While you want to take sufficient time to make sure you are providing documentation that is helpful, there is some need to respond quickly. If certain documents are still missing, the school may again ask for further clarification, and you don’t want to miss out on any financial aid award deadlines. Verification can possibly increase or decrease the amount of financial aid which you have been offered. If this happens you will receive an amended Financial Aid Notification.

Don’t stumble through the verification process on your own. Contact College Financial Aid Advisors (CFAA) as soon as possible and we will help you get back on the road to a financial aid decision. If you need professional insights on any other component of the financial aid process, contact CFAA now for a FREE financial aid strategy session.