What to Do If Your FAFSA Gets Flagged For Verification

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to find your fit?

What does it mean when your FAFSA is selected for verification? The verification process helps schools ensure accuracy. They review your submitted financial aid information and your eligibility for need-based aid, like the Pell Grant.

You may wonder, is FAFSA verification bad? Being selected for FAFSA verification doesn't mean you've done anything wrong. It also doesn't mean you'll lose your financial aid. During the 2019-20 school year, around a quarter of all students who submitted the FAFSA were selected for verification. Most students complete the verification process without losing any of their financial aid.

Either your school or the Department of Education (ED) may ask you to verify your information after you submit your FAFSA. But what do you need for FAFSA verification? And what steps do you take? Use this verification guide to complete the process.

What Does It Mean When Your FAFSA Is Selected for Verification?

The ED mostly performs FAFSA verification at random. However, some schools request FAFSA verifications for all students. Only need-based aid recipients undergo FAFSA verification, since this money comes directly from the federal government.

Certain factors may result in FAFSA verification. One example is qualifying for need-based aid. Students don't need to repay grants, and the ED wants to ensure that recipients need the aid. Listing an extremely low income level on the FAFSA, either for yourself or your parents, can also result in verification.

The FAFSA verification process can affect your financial aid. However, as long as you enter your information honestly, you shouldn't worry. Verification occurs often, and it typically doesn't reduce students' financial aid awards.

What Do You Need for FAFSA Verification?

The FAFSA verification process may require several documents. You may need to provide tax information and a statement about the number of people in your household. You may also need to submit information about child support payments, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and any other government benefits you receive.

FAFSA verification may also require information about the college enrollment status of other household members. These may include your siblings or parents. Also, you may need to submit a high school or GED diploma.

What If I Don't Have the Documents I Need for FAFSA Verification?

Many documents for FAFSA verification are available online. The IRS website provides most of the financial information necessary for the verification process. As long as you or your parents have filed a tax return, you can get this information from the IRS website. If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to complete the FAFSA, you're less likely to be selected for verification.

You may need to contact government or social services agencies for other supporting documents. For example, your local self-sufficiency office can provide documentation of SNAP benefits.

If you don't have your parents' or guardians' cooperation, you can still submit your FAFSA. The ED allows dependent students under age 24 to file the FAFSA without their parents' information under certain circumstances.

You don't need to submit parental information if your parents are incarcerated or you've left an abusive home environment. You can also omit your parents' information if you can't contact them, if you're homeless, or if you're at risk of homelessness.

The Timeline for FAFSA Verification

You should submit your FAFSA as early as possible. This can help ensure that you receive the most financial aid. Submitting early also gives you plenty of time to complete the verification process if necessary. You can submit the FAFSA starting October 1.

After receiving notice of verification, you must submit your required verification documents by June 30. This is the FAFSA verification deadline. However, individual schools may maintain earlier verification deadlines. Check your verification worksheet or contact your school's financial aid office to determine their deadline.

Once you submit your documents, it can take up to four weeks to receive the results of your verification review. Some schools can complete your verification sooner. However, most schools take 2-4 weeks.

Following Up FAFSA Verification: Changes to Your Financial Aid

If your family's expected contribution changes during the verification process, it may affect your financial aid award. Pell Grants and other need-based aid vary based on your reported income. If your expected family contribution increases, your award amount may decrease. Conversely, if your expected family contribution decreases, your award amount may increase.

If your financial aid award amount changes based on your FAFSA verification, you should receive notification well before the school year starts. Even if you submit your verification information on June 30, schools have several weeks to verify and make adjustments before the fall semester.

If you believe your award amount has been adjusted incorrectly, you can appeal the decision. Keep in mind this could delay your financial aid disbursement.

Keep up with the latest

Never miss a detail on the news, trends, and policies that could directly impact your educational path.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Do this for you

Explore your possibilities- find schools with programs you’re interested in and clear a path for your future.