You finally submitted the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You think everything is going smoothly until you receive notice (via your Student Aid Report) that you have been selected for FAFSA verification. What does this mean?
Verification is a process used to verify certain information on the FAFSA to ensure its accuracy. Some students are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education. Others are selected by the school. Usually only a certain percentage of students are selected for verification (but keep in mind that some schools choose to do 100% verification so every student file is verified).
Why is your file being verified?
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:
You were selected randomly.
The submitted FAFSA application has incomplete data.
The data on the FAFSA application appears to contradict itself.
The FAFSA application has estimated information on it.
What needs to be done after the selection?
After you receive notification that you have been selected for verification, you should first read any messages from the Department of Education appearing on the Student Aid Report. Contact your Financial Aid Office (FAO) if you have any questions. Next, you should submit copies of documents that the Financial Aid Office requests. These documents may include:
IRS Tax Return Transcript (Note: If you use the IRS Data Retrieval option when completing the FAFSA and make no changes to the tax information, a tax return transcript may not be required.)
Social Security Card
Alien Registration Card
The type of documents required will vary from student to student, and not all students selected for FAFSA verification will have to submit the same documents. Do not turn in any documentation that was not requested.
What happens if there are discrepancies in the application?
After you turn in all required documents, the Financial Aid Office will compare them with your Student Aid Report. If errors are found, corrections will be made. If the errors are significant enough to change the amount of financial aid that you were awarded, the Financial Aid Office will send you a revised award notification showing increased or decreased amounts.
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.