What is FAFSA Verification?November 6, 2019
You finally submitted the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You think everything is going smoothly until you receive a notice via your Student Aid Report that you have been selected for FAFSA verification. What does this mean? What should you do?
FAFSA Verification is a process that the U.S. Department of Education uses to verify certain information on the FAFSA is accurate. Sometimes these selections are made by the U.S. Department of Education, and sometimes they are made by the college or university that received your FAFSA information. In most cases, only a portion of students are selected for FAFSA verification. However, some schools verify 100% of students to ensure all the information is entirely accurate.
Why was I chosen for FAFSA verification?
So, why did you get chosen for verification? It depends. There are several possibilities for being selected for FAFSA verification. Keep in mind that more possibilities exist, but the following are the main reasons for being selected:
In many cases, you were just selected randomly or the school you submitted the FAFSA to has protocol for verifying its students.
The submitted FAFSA has incomplete data
If you didn’t answer certain questions or provide certain information on the FAFSA, you might be subject to having your application verified.
The submitted FAFSA has inaccurate or contradictory information
If the information that you listed on the FAFSA doesn’t make complete sense, such as including contradictory or inaccurate information, you may be subject to having your application verified.
The FAFSA application has estimated information
If you estimated a piece of information, for example, your income or moving date, this may trigger a verification. If the information provided as estimates doesn’t seem accurate to the Department of Education, they may choose to review your application.
What should you do if you’re chosen for FAFSA verification?
Once you’ve been informed that you’ve been selected for FAFSA verification, the first thing you should do is check your Student Aid Report to see if you have a message from the Department of Education.
If you have any questions, contact your Financial Aid Office. Your Financial Aid Office will likely ask you to submit certain documents as part of the FAFSA verification process. You should submit these documents in a timely manner. These documents may include:
- Verification Worksheet
- IRS Tax Return Transcript
- Marriage Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Alien Registration Card
- Other information/documentation
Keep in mind that these documents will depend on your specific circumstances and that not everyone is required to submit the same documents.
What happens if there are discrepancies in your FAFSA?
Once you’ve submitted your documents, your Financial Aid Office will compare the information to that of your Student Aid Report. Corrections will be made if any errors or discrepancies are found. If the errors or discrepancies have an impact on the amount of financial aid you can receive, you will then be given a revised award notification showing the difference.
If you are selected for FAFSA verification, you need to return the information and requested documentation as soon as possible. Processing usually takes two to three weeks, but it can take longer during the peak season. Because verification must be completed in advance of disbursing any money from any financial aid program, it is vital to send complete and correct information as quickly as possible.
Above all else, don’t be upset because you were selected for verification. This is a process that is required by the federal government. The Financial Aid Office may even discover errors in your report that could actually increase your eligibility for more aid.