Unpacking the FAFSA Verification Process

If you’re selected for FAFSA verification, it doesn’t mean you or your family did anything wrong. Verification simply confirms that the data reported on your financial aid application is accurate. About ⅓ of applicants are selected for verification, some at random, and some because of mismatched information on your FAFSA that needs further explanation. 

Here are some tips for making the verification as smooth as possible:

Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

To minimize your chances of verification selections (and to make your life easier), use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. It automatically syncs your tax return with your FAFSA, confirms your submitted information, and should reduce the likelihood of verification.

Pay attention

If selected for verification, your financial aid package could encounter delays. Many schools will contact you through your personal email, school email, or student account. Check these accounts consistently after filling out the FAFSA. 

Gather correct documents

The main verification areas include:

  • Tax information
  • Number of people in your house
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
  • Child support
  • High school completion status

Watch for deadlines

Verification won’t affect your financial aid if you meet your college’s deadline. If you miss it, your school can’t offer you federal financial aid. As soon as you’re notified of verification, send your materials so you don’t miss out on your financial aid benefits.

Follow up

The financial aid packages you receive from colleges are estimates until the verification process is complete. Once verified, your package could be more or less than the original amount.

Follow these tips and FAFSA verification should go smoothly. Even if you weren’t selected for verification this year, stay informed on the process. You must complete the FAFSA each year of college, so there’s a chance you can be working through FAFSA verification later down the road!