My FAFSA’s Been Selected for Verification. What Should I Do?

First of all, don’t panic or be discouraged. The verification process is used by your college, university, technology center or career school to confirm that the data you reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Federal Student Aid, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, randomly selects some FAFSAs for verification, but it may also select a FAFSA if there is information that needs to be clarified. A college may select a FAFSA for verification for the same reasons. The rules for administering Title IV federal financial aid state that a financial aid office is not allowed to disburse any federal aid to a selected student who has not completed the verification process. It’s important for you to know that no one suspects you of any wrong-doing. Verification is usually a random process, but it can also occur due to conflicting or unclear information reported on your FAFSA.

The first indication that your FAFSA has been selected for verification will appear on your Student Aid Report (SAR) that you received a few days after your FAFSA was submitted. Look for the EFC, or Expected Family Contribution, in the top right corner; if an asterisk (*) appears next to the EFC number, your FAFSA’s been selected. Read the first page of your SAR to see what you should do next. The college(s) you put on your FAFSA will also see the verification symbol and may contact you to state what they’ll require to complete the verification process. If they don’t contact you within a week or two after you receive your SAR, be sure to reach out to the financial aid office and ask what you should do next.

One of the most common requests in the verification process is for you to supply proof of income. If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on your FAFSA, however, your college shouldn’t need any additional income information from you, because that data was transferred directly to your FAFSA from the IRS. There may be a worksheet that you’ll need to submit to verify other information, but your financial aid office will notify you if that’s required.

This process takes time, so please be patient with the financial aid personnel at your school. They are carrying out a mandate given to them by the U.S. Department of Education, and they must follow the laws that govern federal financial aid. Make sure to respond quickly to any request the financial aid office sends you so the process will go more smoothly.