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    What to Do If You’re Selected for FAFSA Verification

    By Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    and Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    Reviewed by Caitlyn Cole

    Caitlyn Cole is a college access professional with a decade of experience in non-profit program and project management for college readiness and access organizations.

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    Updated: March 5th, 2024
    What to Do If You’re Selected for FAFSA Verification

    Verification is the process used by the Department of Education to verify that  the data provided on your FAFSA is accurate. With the new changes to the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the likelihood of verification should decrease from previous years. FAFSA verification can be randomly chosen and some schools verify all applicants, so you shouldn’t  worry if selected. Just be sure to follow the directions provided and keep an eye on your email and you’ll be able to check verification off of your list! 

    Here’s our step-by-step guide to FAFSA verification. We’ll walk you through the verification process and explain the purpose of verification. Finally, we’ll show you how to interpret the results you receive.

    1. Don’t worry!

    Once you have completed the 2024-2025 FAFSA, you will receive a FAFSA Submission Summary which is essentially a summary of the data you submitted once your FAFSA form is processed. Once you receive your summary, look it over to ensure you did not make any errors and make corrections to your FAFSA if needed! In your FAFSA Submission Summary, you may see a note saying you’ve been selected for verification or your school may contact you directly to inform you that you have been selected. 

    If you have received a message telling you that you need to verify your FAFSA, take a deep breath and remember that it’s a routine process. The process is intended to verify the information that you have been provided and ensure that the students and families who need financial aid the most are getting it. Although a couple of follow up tasks may be needed, they are typically straightforward and shouldn’t delay your financial aid package processing as long as you’re diligent in your follow up. 

    Remember, your 2024-25 FAFSA must be submitted by June 30, 2024 and you can make corrections until September 14, 2024. 

    Learn more: Which assets and debts are reported on the FAFSA?

    2. Gather the necessary documents

    The main point of a verification is to collect official documents, statements, or signatures which verify the information on your FAFSA. The documents you must submit depend on the type of information being verified. It is crucial that you verify your information prior to the school’s deadline to be eligible for federal student aid. 

    In most cases, you will not have to verify income and tax information, However, your school may ask you to submit a tax transcript or other documentation to confirm the information you reported. Being verified to confirm household size or to confirm tax non filing status are fairly common.

    The following section breaks down the FAFSA information that an institution may require an applicant or applicant’s contributor(s) to verify along with the acceptable documentation that must be provided for the information to be verified. If you are completing verification and unsure what to submit, always reach out to your school’s financial aid office.

    Income information for tax filers

    The institution may be verifying any of the following:

    • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
    • Income Earned From Work 
    • U.S. Income Tax Paid
    • Untaxed Portions of IRA Distributions
    • Untaxed Portions of Pensions
    • IRA Deductions and Payments
    • Tax Exempt Interest Income
    • Education Credits
    • Foreign Income Exempt from Federal Taxation

    If transferred directly from the IRS and unchanged, these should  not need to be verified. 

    If not transferred directly from the IRS then the following is sufficient for verification: 

    • A transcript obtained from the IRS or other relevant tax authority of a U.S. territory
    • A copy of the income tax return and the applicable schedules that were filed with the IRS 
    • If there is a rollover, collect a signed statement confirming the amount of rollover in the untaxed pension or IRA distribution

    Income information for tax filers with special circumstances

    The institution may be verifying any of the following: 

    • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
    • Income Earned From Work 
    • U.S. Income Tax Paid
    • Untaxed Portions of IRA Distributions
    • Untaxed Portions of Pensions
    • IRA Deductions and Payments
    • Tax Exempt Interest Income
    • Education Credits
    • Foreign Income Exempt from Federal Taxation

    A student, or the parent(s) of a dependent student, who filed a 2022 joint income tax return and whose income is used in the calculation of the applicant’s student aid index, and who at the time the FAFSA was completed was separated, divorced, widowed or married to someone other than the individual included on the 2022 joint income tax return: 

    • A transcript obtained from the IRS or other relevant tax authority that lists 2022 tac account information of the tax filer(s)
    • A copy of the income tax return and the applicable schedules that were filed with the IRS or other relevant tax authority
    • A copy of IRS Form W-2 for each source of 2022 employment income received or an equivalent document 

    An individual who is required to file a 2022 IRS income tax return and has been granted filing extension by the IRS beyond the automatic 6-month extension for tax year 2022: 

    • A signed statement listing the sources of any 2022 income and the amount of income from each source
    • A copy of the IRS’s approval of an extension beyond the automatic 6-month extension
    • A  copy of IRS Form W-2 for each source of 2022 employment income received or an equivalent document
    • If self-employed, the signed statement must indicate the amount of estimated AGI and U.S. income tax paid for tax year 2022

    If there is a rollover: 

    • Collect a signed statement confirming the amount of the rollover in the untaxed pension or IRA distribution

    An individual who was the victim of IRS tax-related identity theft

    • A Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV) transcript obtained from the IRS
    • A statement signed and dated by the tax filer indicating that he or she was a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS has been made aware of the theft

    Income information for non-tax filers

    In these cases, the institution may be verifying Income Earned from Work.

    Individual who has not filed and, under IRS or other relevant tax authority rules is not required to file a 2022 income tax return can submit:

    • A signed and dated statement certifying that the individual is not required to file a 2022 income tax return
    • A signed and dated statement certifying the sources and amounts of earnings, other income and resources that supported the individual(s) for the 2022 tax year

    Individual without a Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) can submit: 

    • A copy of IRS Form W-2 for each source of 2022 employment income received or an equivalent document 

    Family size

    If family size has changed: 

    • A statement signed by the applicant and, if the applicant is a dependent student, by one of the applicant’s parents, that lists the name and age of each family member for the 2024-2025 award year and the relationship of that family member to the applicant

    Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose

    The following documents should suffice:

    • An unexpired valid government-issued photo identification such as but not limited to a driver’s licenses, non-driver’s identification card, other State-issued identification or U.S. passport
    • A signed statement using the exact language as follows, except that the student’s identification number is optional if collected elsewhere on the same page as the statement
      • I certify that I (Print Student’s Name) am the individual signing this Statement of Education Purpose and that the Federal student financial assistance I may receive will only be used for educational purposes and to pay the cost of attending (Name of Postsecondary Educational Institution) for 2024-2025. (Student Signature) (Date) (Student ID Number) 

    Also see: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

    3. Complete your FAFSA Verification Worksheets

    If selected for verification, your school may provide you with a FAFSA Verification Worksheet to complete along with any necessary additional documentation. . The sheets vary based on the school and on the specific information being verified. If you have any questions, make sure to contact your school promptly. Don’t let a confusing question delay your submission!

    Many schools make these requests online, so watch your email or student portal for verification requirements. Manhattan College’s FAFSA Verification Form gives you a good idea of what a college may require you to fill out if you are selected for FAFSA verification.

    Also read: CSS Profile vs. FAFSA: What you need to know

    4. Respond to your verification request promptly

    Once you fill everything out, don’t delay in sending in the verification materials. The sooner you submit it, the sooner you’ll be able to receive your  financial aid package. If you send in your verification past the institutional deadline, you may be disqualified from institutional aid. If verified on the FAFSA, this will apply to all colleges you added to your form. For instance, if you submitted your FAFSA to 20 colleges and were verified to confirm your household size, each of the 20 colleges will have their own process for collecting that information that must be completed before they can generate a financial aid package for you. That can be a lot of follow up work. Consider prioritizing the colleges that you are most interested in attending. 

    Each school has its own deadline for institutional aid. If you receive a verification request, reach out to your school promptly to find out when this deadline is. Communicate openly and clearly with your financial aid office to ensure that you do not fall behind on your deadlines. Ask how long you should expect to wait to hear your amended results. If you don’t receive them promptly, don’t hesitate to follow-up with your school.

    Remember, a delay in providing the information to the college may cause a delay in receiving your financial aid award!

    Related: How long does it take for the FAFSA to be processed?

    What are the possible outcomes of FAFSA verification?

    Once your verification has been successfully processed, you’ll learn if/how they impact your financial aid offer. You’ll learn that your SAI, or Student Aid Index, has either remained the same, increased, or decreased. Here is what each of those possibilities could mean for you.

    No change

    Because most FAFSA verifications are selected randomly, they often cause no change to your aid eligibility. If your verified materials match the originally submitted ones, you will typically receive the same SAI that you did initially. This means that your potential financial aid offer remains the same as before verification.

    Increased SAI

    If your verified materials indicate a higher SAI, you will receive an adjusted financial aid offer. Your higher SAI indicates a higher ability to pay, and a lower level of need. This may affect your federal and state aid. Additionally, if your school uses the FAFSA to determine institutional aid, it may impact your institutional aid. 

    Decreased SAI

    If your verified materials indicate a lower SAI, you may receive an adjusted financial aid offer. Your lower SAI indicates a lower ability to pay, and a higher level of financial need. You may  receive more federal and state aid. Additionally, you may receive more institutional aid if your college utilizes the FAFSA.  

    Read more: How to complete this year’s FAFSA

    Final thoughts

    FAFSA verification is a normal process that can feel intimidating but should not cause concern! Ultimately, make sure you have the necessary documentation ready and submit it to your institution before any deadlines. If you have any questions throughout the process be sure to ask your institution’s financial aid office or contact the Federal Student Aid office.

    Frequently asked questions 

    How will I be notified if selected for verification?

    Typically, notification comes through your FAFSA Submission Summary  or directly from the financial aid office of the institution(s) you listed on your FAFSA.

    How long does the verification process take?

    The verification process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the situation and how quickly it takes for you to obtain the required documentation.

    Will verification affect my financial aid award?

    Depending on the outcome of the verification process, your financial aid award may be adjusted if there are discrepancies between the information you provided on your FAFSA and the documentation you submit during verification.

    What if I do not complete my FAFSA verification?

    If you do not complete the FAFSA verification when selected, you will not receive a financial aid package from your schools and you could delay or even deny your federal financial aid. It’s crucial to provide the requested documentation to ensure a timely process of your aid application.

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