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 child's 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:
Your child was 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 receiving notification that your child's file has been selected for verification, you should first read any messages from the Department of Education appearing on the Student Aid Report (SAR). Contact the Financial Aid Office (FAO) if you have any questions. Next, you should collect copies of documents that the Financial Aid Office requests. These documents may include a Marriage Certificate, a Social Security Card, an Alien Registration Card, and any Federal Tax Forms. 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. Once you have collected all the required proof documents, take them to the Financial Aid Office. Do not turn in any documentation that was not requested. For example, if you turn in too many tax schedules and it shows information that the FAFSA has not asked for, the Financial Aid Office will be obligated to use that additional information in calculating need. Only turn in what is requested. You will also need to fill out an Institutional Verification Form to turn into the FAO.
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 child's 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 your child was awarded, the Financial Aid Office will send a revised award letter showing increased or decreased amounts.
If your child is 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 your child's file was selected for verification. This is a process that is required by the federal government. The Financial Aid Office may even discover errors in your child's report that could actually increase his eligibility for more aid.