20 Nov Respond to Requests for Verification
Keep on your toes after you submit the FAFSA, as you might receive a Request for Verification. This is simply a request for further documentation to support the answers you provided in your application. You might see a note on your SAR (Student Aid Report) or an asterisk next to the EFC, saying you’ve been selected for verification. One of your colleges might contact you directly to inform you that you need to provide additional information.
Don’t get upset or assume you are being accused of doing anything wrong. Some people are selected for verification at random, some are selected because there was a mistake on the application or they want to look more carefully at certain information, and some schools actually verify all applicants’ FAFSA forms. All you need to do is provide the documentation asked for by the given deadline.
About 17-20%% of FAFSA forms are usually selected for verification, but the Department of Education has been working to decrease overall verification rates in recent years. When you complete the FAFSA, you are giving permission to verify any statement on the form. During verification, college financial aid administrators ask the applicant to supply copies of documentation, such as income tax returns, W-2 statements, 1099 forms, and financial account statements, to verify the data that was submitted.
if you fail to comply with the verification request by the given deadline, your student could lose out on financial aid. In fact, the National College Attainment Network found that 7% of students selected for verification lose out on federal grants, loans and institutional aid. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind about verification:
- Review Your Verification Notice: Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) carefully. The school may also send you a notification that you’ve been picked for verification.
- Gather the Requested Documentation:
- Adjusted gross income. If you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for your FAFSA, and entered your own information, you may be asked to submit copies of your tax returns or W-2 forms.
- Income taxes paid. You may be asked to provide complete copies of your tax returns.
- Household size. You will be asked to submit a signed statement that lists the name, age and relationship to the student of each person in the home.
- Number of household members in college. Most often, you can submit a signed statement, but sometimes you may need to submit a statement from each college’s registrar confirming each person’s enrollment.
- Tax-exempt interest income. Tax-exempt interest income, such as income from municipal bonds or mutual funds, is included on your tax return. If issuers paid you $10 or more in interest, the interest is reported on Form 1099-INT, which you can submit for verification purposes.
- Non-tax Filers: If you did not submit a federal tax return, you may have to submit a statement to that effect, along with other supporting documentation, such as a W-2 or 1099 forms. You may also have to submit a “verification of non-filing” letter from the IRS.
- Fill Out the FAFSA Verification Form: Fill in all requested information on the FAFSA verification worksheet; do not leave any sections blank. Be sure to sign and date the form before mailing it in.
- Correct FAFSA Mistakes: There are some FAFSA mistakes that can only be corrected if you have been selected for verification.
Watch your verification deadlines closely. If your financial aid package was adjusted based on your FAFSA verification and you need more aid, talk to the financial aid office about your options. You might be able to appeal their decision, and request additional aid if your financial situation has changed.
CFAA helps with the entire financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a CFAA new client free strategy session or a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college. To get the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my bi-weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.