What to Do If You’re Selected for FAFSA Verification

Fewer students will be selected for FAFSA verification in 2024-25.
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What to Do If You're Selected for FAFSA Verification

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When can I update my FAFSA application? The redesigned FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year is available at FAFSA.gov. After major delays, the FAFSA corrections process opened on April 16 to students and families who submitted incorrect or incomplete forms.

You can still submit the 2023-24 FAFSA until June 30, 2024.

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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.

Far fewer people will be selected for verification for the redesigned 2024-25 FAFSA form than in past years, in order to reduce further financial aid delays, the Education Department said in February.

But if you are still chosen, it was likely either random, or because your school asked to have your information verified. It doesn't necessarily mean you've done anything wrong. Verification is used to ensure your Student Aid Index, or SAI, and any federal financial aid you get will best match your circumstances.

What happens if you're selected for FAFSA verification?

You'll be notified by your school or you'll see a note indicating you've been selected for verification on your FAFSA Submission Summary. 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 FAFSA that you might be asked to verify. Here’s what you need to satisfy each category:

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.

Tax information

Because the new 2024-25 FAFSA pulls your tax information in directly from the IRS, it's unlikely that you'll have to verify this information, the Education Department says. If, for some reason, you are selected for tax information verification, you’ll need to submit a copy of your prior-year tax return transcript.

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 SAI 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 SAI, you’ll have to repay that aid immediately.

If your SAI decreases: Your school is required to give you any additional federal aid you are eligible for. If your new SAI 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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