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Every year, the Department of Education picks a portion of financial aid applicants to go through Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, verification. It's a process to confirm that the information on the FAFSA you submitted is an accurate snapshot of your finances.
You were probably chosen at random, like the vast majority of those selected, or your school may have asked to have your information verified. Verification is used to ensure your estimated family contribution, or EFC, and any federal financial aid you get will best match your circumstances.
Changes for the 2024-25 FAFSA and future award years
The FAFSA Simplification Act, a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, has resulted in some current and future changes to FAFSA. These updates include a more simplified form and expanded eligibility.
The Department of Education is considering if any updates need to be made to the verification process for the 2024-25 award year and beyond.
If any adjustments are made, The Department will inform colleges and universities. Stay tuned for any communications from your institution about any FAFSA verification changes that impact you.
What's next if you're selected for verification?
You'll be notified by your school or you'll see a note indicating you've been selected on your Student Aid Report. FAFSA verification can happen at any time, before or after you’ve chosen a school.
It’s not something to be alarmed by, but you should take it seriously and respond quickly.
Here’s what to do if you’re selected for FAFSA verification.
1. Gather your documents
There are three main areas from your 2023-24 FAFSA that you might be asked to verify. Here’s what you need to satisfy each category:
If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to submit your taxes, you probably won’t be required to verify any of your tax information. If for some reason you can’t use the tool, such as your parents are married but filed separately or they filed an amended return, you’ll need to submit a copy of your prior-year tax return transcript.
The number of people in your house and the number in college
Usually, you have to submit a signed statement to verify how many people are in your home. But you may have to provide proof of enrollment if someone else in the house will also be attending college.
Identity and statement of educational purpose
You may be asked to physically verify your identity at your institution. You'll need to bring with you a valid and unexpired form of government-issued ID like a driver's license, U.S. Passport, or another form of state-issued ID. You may also be asked to sign an educational statement of purpose that confirms your identity and indicates that you'll only use federal aid for school expenses.
2. Fill out your FAFSA verification worksheets
Your school will provide you with verification worksheets to accompany your requested documents. In some cases, filling out and returning a worksheet will be all that’s required.
On your worksheets, be sure to complete each question in full. If a question doesn’t apply to you, answer it with “N/A” or use the number zero, where appropriate. Triple check that everything is correct and complete before sending it in — mistakes will draw out the process and cost you valuable college decision-making time.
3. Send in your FAFSA verification materials before your deadline
Verification probably won’t affect your financial aid, as long as you meet your college’s deadline. If you miss it, though, your school can’t offer you any federal financial aid. Any changes to your EFC are rare and would occur after you submit everything and only if your verification materials show a discrepancy from your original FAFSA.
If your school gives out any need-based institutional aid, such as campus-based scholarships or grants, you should consider yourself to be on a much shorter timetable. That kind of aid is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Waiting to send in your verification materials might mean losing out on such aid and needing more in student loans to close the gap.
4. Follow up on changes to your financial aid package
If you see a change in your financial package after verification is complete, here’s what will happen:
If your EFC increases: If you’ve already received financial aid, you might have been awarded more than you now qualify for. That means future federal loan offers may be smaller to compensate. If you lose eligibility for any grants based on your new EFC, you’ll have to repay that aid immediately.
If your EFC decreases: Your school is required to give you any additional federal aid you are eligible for. If your new EFC makes you eligible for more aid through a direct subsidized loan or a federal Pell Grant, for example, you’ll be able to add those to your financial aid package. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more need-based institutional aid, especially if you waited until later in the process to send in your documents.
In either case, talk to your college’s financial aid office about your options. They’ll help you figure out how to repay any excess loans or apply for additional scholarships and grants if you have a gap in aid.
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