If you receive a FAFSA verification request, it’s important to not panic, but act fast to get the information you need turned in. Here’s what you need to know.
Any financial aid advisor will tell you that it’s a wise decision to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive any additional funds you’re eligible for, and help make college more affordable. If you’re planning for college and have already filled out the FAFSA, good on you.
One thing you should be aware of, and stay prepared for, is that the U.S. Department of Education requests verification for roughly one third of all FAFSA applications, even more so for Pell Grant recipients, according to a Saving for College article. You’ll know if you got a verification request when you receive a Student Aid Report, either by mail or email, listing your FAFSA information and gives you space to make corrections and send back. Here’s what a FAFSA verification request means and how to handle it, should one ever find you.
First of all, know that this isn’t the end of the world. Just because you got a FAFSA verification request, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be receiving any form of financial aid. It just means the Department of Education needs more information to prove that your application is accurate. It’s important to not panic, and be ready to provide whatever information the Department of Education needs. If you do not complete the verification process or miss the deadline provided to you, you could be ineligible for student aid.
Get to Work
Now that you’ve received your FAFSA verification request, you need to get all the information ready. It’s time to figure out exactly what is needed, and how to access that information to send back.
- Tax information – If you need to verify your adjusted gross income, the amount taxes paid by you or your family, or any other tax information, your tax return should have what you need. You can also use the IRS data retrieval tool to confirm any of this information.
- Family members in the house and in college – You can submit a signed statement to verify the number of family members living in your home, and if there are other immediate family members in college, reach out to the registrar from their school for a signed statement to confirm enrollment.
- High school graduation or GED – To verify your high school graduation or GED, submit a copy of your diploma or GED, or a copy of your final transcript that lists your graduation date.
- Additional benefits or income – If you need to verify any other benefits or forms of income you receive, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Social Security, child support, or the earned income tax credit, you should ask the agency responsible for that benefit or form of income for a signed statement that you can submit for verification.
- Worksheets – Your school will also send FAFSA verification worksheets to be completed. You will have to submit these along with the other verification information, so fill it out thoroughly, and if a question doesn’t apply to you, simply answer “N/A” or zero, depending on the question.
This is also a good time to review your original FAFSA any fix any errors that you may have missed. It’s better to correct something now than to not look at all, and find out that you won’t receive financial aid because of one small error. You can review your application at FAFSA.gov.
Again, it’s important to take a FAFSA verification request seriously and act promptly to get back on track to receiving any aid you’re eligible for. Gathering this information may take longer than expected, so it’s best to get a head start instead of wait until the last minute, and possibly missing the deadline. If you need help figuring out what you need to do in this process, ask your school’s financial aid office.