What’s FAFSA Verification?

Verification is a federal financial aid process that ensures the information submitted on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is correct. If you’ve been selected for FAFSA verification, don’t worry─it doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake. This is a routine part of the financial aid process every year for many students across the country.

The verification process involves submitting documents such as tax transcripts and W-2 forms so the financial aid office at your college can see that the information on these documents matches your FAFSA application. The goal of verification is to make sure federal financial aid is going to students who truly need it. Colleges are required to resolve outstanding verification items to secure your financial aid funds.

How do I know if I’ve been selected for financial aid verification?

If your FAFSA has been selected for verification, each college will reach out to you directly with instructions on how to complete the process. Check your mail, email, and college portal regularly for verification-related requests. If you’ve applied to more than one college, you’ll have to do the verification process separately for each college.

Your Student Aid Report (SAR) is a summary of the information you reported on the FAFSA, and it can tell you if you’ve been selected for verification. If you see an asterisk (*) next to your Expected Family Contribution (or EFC) on your SAR, it means you’ve been selected for verification. Keep an eye out for communications from your college about next steps in the process.

How do I prepare for FAFSA verification?

  1. Review your Student Aid Report. Fix any errors.
    Read the text under the “What you must do now” section of the Student Aid Report. Correct any flagged errors on your FAFSA. Once you’ve completed the corrections, your FAFSA will need to be signed and submitted again. Proactively correcting errors on your FAFSA will make the verification process easier for you. The financial aid office at the school you’re applying to can also help you update your FAFSA and answer questions about the process.
  2. Let your parents know.
    If you were required to include information about your parents on the FAFSA, it’s likely they’ll need to sign your verification forms as well. Your parents may be able to help you find documents you need to submit in the verification process.
  3. Gather documentation.
    Some of the documentation you may need to provide in the verification process for you and your parents (if applicable) are:
    • Tax transcripts or tax returns showing income information filed with the IRS. Tax transcripts can be ordered by mail for free at the IRS website.
    • W-2 forms or other documents showing money earned from work.
    • Citizenship or immigration documentation, such as your U.S. passport or Permanent Resident card (also known as a green card).
    • Your high school transcripts and/or diploma, as proof of high school completion status.

What should I do if my college requires me to submit documentation through the Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC)?

If you’ve completed the CSS Profile for any schools you’ve applied to, you may also be required to submit documents through IDOC. IDOC is a service some colleges use that allows families to upload financial aid application information and supporting documentation online. You’ll receive a notification by email if you’re required to submit documentation using IDOC. You can find more information about how to complete IDOC here.

What happens if I don’t complete FAFSA verification process?

Your college can withhold your financial aid until you’ve completed the verification process. To avoid any delays in your financial aid, submit the information requested by your college as soon as you can.

Still have questions about FAFSA verification?

If you’ve been accepted to a college but haven’t been sent a financial aid offer yet, or if your financial aid offer says ”pending or ”tentative,” it could mean that you have an outstanding verification request you need to complete. Reach out to your financial aid office if you have questions about the verification process or about the next steps you need to take to get your financial aid.