What’s FAFSA Verification?

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Verification is a federal financial aid process that ensures the information submitted on the 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.

This is your opportunity to make sure your information is correct.

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. Providing the documentation your school asks for by the school’s deadline ensures you will receive federal student aid you’ve been awarded. Colleges are required to resolve outstanding verification items.

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 FAFSA Submission Summary 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 a red exclamation mark on the next steps tab, check to see if it lists being selected for verification. If verification is listed, 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 FAFSA Submission Summary. Correct any errors. 
    Correct any errors, especially incorrect personal identifiers such as date of birth and social security. Read the “Next Steps” tab and make note of the next steps listed. Review the “FAFSA Form Answers” tab and correct any errors flagged on your FAFSA. Once you’ve completed the corrections, your FAFSA will need to be updated 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 parent(s) or guardian(s) on the FAFSA, it’s likely they’ll need to sign your verification forms as well. They 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.

How can I reduce my chances of being selected for verification? 

Beginning with 2024-25 FAFSA, all persons included on the FAFSA will be required to use an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Direct Data Exchange to share federal tax information to complete the FAFSA or confirm that you or your parent didn’t file a federal tax return. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA, reduces the number of questions your family will need to answer, and reduces the chance that your FAFSA includes errors that could lead to additional verification. To take advantage of this new and improved process, keep in mind that your family’s 2023 taxes must be filed before beginning your FAFSA application.

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.