What is FAFSA verification? – Councilor Forbes

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Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step in obtaining financial assistance to pay for your college education. After submitting the FAFSA, you may need to take additional steps before you can qualify for assistance.

Each year, the US Department of Education selects students for FAFSA verification and requests additional documentation. This can be scary for some, and it can even impact FAFSA completion rates. In fact, the National School Success Network found that 25% of selected students do not complete the verification process, causing them to lose federal grants, loans, and institutional aid.

Don’t let the FAFSA verification process stop you from getting the financial help you deserve. If selected, here’s what you need to know to successfully navigate the process.

Who is selected for FAFSA verification?

The FAFSA verification process confirms that the information you submitted on your FAFSA is correct, but not all students are selected for verification. For the year 2018-2019 – the most recent data available – only 22% of FAFSA applications were selected for verification.

Applications can be selected by the Federal Student Aid (CPS) central processing system or by your school.

If you are selected for FAFSA verification, don’t worry. Some applicants are selected at random and some colleges choose to verify all FAFSA applications, so being flagged for verification doesn’t mean you did something wrong.

However, some students are more likely than others to be chosen. The US Department of Education does not make its student selection criteria public. However, experts claim that eligible applicants Pell Grants—A federal grant for low-income students — are more likely to be selected for verification than other applicants.

How FAFSA Verification Works

If you’re worried about being selected for verification, familiarizing yourself with the process can make it less overwhelming. Here’s what to expect if you’re selected for FAFSA verification.

1. Examine your audit notice

After submitting the FAFSA, you will receive the Student Aid Report (SAR). Examine it carefully; the SAR summarizes the information you submitted and your expected family contribution. If you have been selected for verification, the SAR will include a notice alerting you. The school may also send you a letter informing you that you have been selected for verification.

2. Gather the requested documentation

If you are selected for verification, you will be asked to submit documents proving that the information you submitted to the FAFSA was correct. Areas you may need to confirm include:

  • Adjusted gross income. In most cases, the FAFSA uses the IRS data recovery tool to populate your adjusted gross income. However, if you entered it yourself without the tool, you may be asked to submit copies of your tax returns or W-2 forms.
  • Income taxes paid. To confirm how much you and your family paid in income taxes, you will need to show copies of your tax returns.
  • The size of the household. To verify the size of your household, you must submit a signed statement indicating the name, age and relationship to pupil of each person in the household.
  • Number of household members at the college. Typically, you can satisfy this request by submitting a signed statement with the name, age, student relationship, and college of each person in the household. However, in some cases, you may need to submit a statement from the college registrar confirming each person’s enrollment.
  • Interest income tax exempt. Tax-exempt interest income, such as income from municipal bonds or mutual funds, is included on your tax return. And, if the issuers paid you $ 10 or more in interest, the interest is reported on Form 1099-INT, which you can submit for verification.

Non-tax filers, that is, those who were not required to file a federal income tax return, will be required to submit a return along with other supporting documents, such as a W-2 or 1099 form. Some applicants will also need to submit a “no-filing verification” letter from the IRS.

3. Fill out the FAFSA verification form

The school will send you a FAFSA verification sheet to complete. Fill in all the requested information; do not leave any section blank. If a field does not apply to you, enter “0” or “N / A” as needed. Be sure to sign and date the FAFSA Verification Form before mailing it.

4. Update your FAFSA

In some cases there may be errors on your FAFSA that can be corrected. If you find that you made a mistake on the FAFSA, such as checking the wrong box or entering an incorrect household size, you may be able to update your FAFSA electronically.

To do this, log into FAFSA.gov with your Federal Student Aid ID. Click on “FAFSA Corrections” and make the necessary changes.

5. Contact the school’s financial aid office.

After submitting your FAFSA verification form or updating the FAFSA online, contact the school’s financial aid office. If your financial aid program has been adjusted based on your FAFSA audit and you need more help, talk to financial aid representatives about your other options, such as student loans.

FAFSA verification deadline

If you are selected for verification, be sure to submit the FAFSA verification form and supporting documents on time.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the federal FAFSA deadline is June 30, 2021. For the academic year 2021-2022, the deadline is June 30, 2022.

However, states and schools may have their own deadlines much earlier. Check the school verification form for deadline information or contact the financial aid office.

What happens if you don’t respond?

If you do not complete the check sheets and submit the requested documents, you will not be eligible for federal, state, or even school financial aid. If you have already received a letter of offer for college financial aid, the aid will be canceled until the verification process is complete.

Appeal of a verification decision

After submitting your documentation and worksheets, the school will review your information and confirm whether or not it is correct. Usually, the school’s decision is final. If you think they’ve made a mistake, contact the financial aid office directly to discuss your situation and possible solutions.

In some cases, the FAFSA verification process may affect your financial aid scholarships. If this happens, you may be able to to appeal their decision and seek additional help if your financial situation has changed. For example, if your parents lost their jobs or had a child, this may allow you to get extra help. Or, you may need to use private student loans to cover the remaining costs.

About Paul Cox

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