The FAFSA is a critical component of the financial aid process for students pursuing higher education.
While you may be familiar with the FAFSA, you may not know what will be expected of you if you get selected for verification.
To ensure that students in need of aid can get the financial assistance they need, the U.S. Department of Education must confirm that students are providing accurate information.
Inaccurate information could cause a student to receive less or more financial aid than they actually need.
Learn more about the FAFSA form, what to do if you’re selected for FAFSA verification, and where to find expert college planning specialists to guide you through the process.
What is FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that students in the United States can fill out to determine their eligibility for financial aid to pay for college or other post-secondary education.
The FAFSA is used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine a student’s eligibility for federal grants, loans, and work-study programs, as well as some state and institutional aid programs.
The FAFSA will ask for information about your parent’s financial situation, including income, assets, and family size.
This information is used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is the amount of money that the student and their family are expected to contribute to their education costs.
When to fill out the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is typically available for students to fill out each year starting on Oct. 1 for the upcoming academic year.
It’s important for students to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible after it becomes available, as some financial programs have limited funds and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Completing the FAFSA can be a complex process, but there are resources available to help students and their families navigate it.
What is the FAFSA verification?
The FAFSA verification process is a way for the U.S. Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information reported on a student’s FAFSA.
Each year, a certain percentage of FAFSA applications are selected for verification. Applicants must then provide documentation to verify the information reported on their FAFSA.
The verification process can involve submitting additional documents, such as tax transcripts, W-2 forms, or other financial documentation to the financial aid office of the student’s school.
If any discrepancies are found during the verification process, your financial aid may be adjusted, and you may be required to pay back any over-awarded funds.
It’s important to note that being selected for verification does not necessarily mean that you did anything wrong or intentionally provided incorrect information.
Verification is simply a way for the Department of Education to ensure the integrity of the financial aid system and to ensure that financial aid is awarded to eligible students who have demonstrated financial need.
How do you know if you were selected for verification?
If you are selected for verification after submitting your FAFSA, you will be notified in two ways.
Student aid report (SAR)
You will receive a SAR by e-mail or by postal mail within a few days to several weeks after submitting your FAFSA.
The SAR will indicate if you have been selected for verification. If you have been selected, the SAR will include a message informing you that you must complete the verification process.
College Financial Aid office
Your college or university’s financial aid office may also notify you that you have been selected for verification.
They will typically send an e-mail or letter to your school email or home address with instructions on how to complete the verification process. It’s important to respond promptly to any notification of verification.
Typically, the notification will include a deadline by which you must complete the verification process.
If you have any questions about the verification process or need assistance completing it, you can contact the financial aid office at your college or university or professional college planning specialists.
What should you do if you are selected for FAFSA verification?
- Check your e-mail or mail regularly: The Department of Education will send a student aid report indicating that you’ve been selected for verification. As previously mentioned, you may also receive a notice from the financial aid office at your college or university, typically by email or postal mail.
- Gather documentation: The financial aid office will provide a list of required documents, which may include copies of tax returns, W-2 forms, or other financial documents.
- Submit documentation: Submit the required documents to the financial aid office at your college or university by the deadline provided. You may be able to submit the documentation online or by mail, depending on the specific requirements of your college or university.
- Follow up: Check with the financial aid office to confirm that they received your documentation and that your verification is complete. If there are any discrepancies or issues, the financial aid office will notify you.
- Be patient: The verification process can take several weeks to complete, so be patient and check in with the financial aid office if you haven’t heard back after a few weeks.
CBRG: Your college planning specialists
College Benefits Research Group can guide and support you through the financial aid process.
Our professional college planning specialists can help you maximize your financial aid eligibility, help you search for scholarships and assistance, and help you negotiate your financial aid offer
We can also provide guidance on how to plan for college expenses, including how to save for college and how to budget expenses once the student is enrolled.
New college applicants are encouraged to attend one of our upcoming virtual workshops on college planning to learn everything they need to know about the process.