The financial aid process can be confusing, especially if this is your first time applying for financial aid. You might think everything is done after submitting your FAFSA. However, some students are selected for what is called, “verification.” What does it mean? Why were you selected for verification? And, what do you have to do if you are selected for verification? These are some common questions that I’ll help you understand.
What if verification?
When filling out the FAFSA, you and your parents manually entered your income and tax information. Verification is the way for you to prove the information you provided is accurate. You maybe selected for verification by the FAFSA or by the institutions you have submitted your applications. Depending on the accuracy of the information you reported when filling out the FAFSA, your financial aid offers can remain the same. However, if there were differences between the information you supplied on the FAFSA and the documents, your financial aid award offers may increase or decrease.
Who is selected for verification?
Students may be selected by the Central Processing System (CPS) or by the institution. CPS notifies each institution who is selected for verification. Students selected for verification by CPS are done so at random. The FAFSA does not share exactly how they choose students for verification. However, students are more likely to be selected if there are red flags on their FAFSA, such as incomplete information or inconsistent information. Colleges, on the other hand, can choose whoever they want to be selected for verification. Some colleges choose all students for verification, while others choose less.
The one thing to keep in mind is that verification is not personal. If you were selected for verification, it is not because of something you said or did when speaking to the admission or financial aid office. Some colleges may be more likely to choose students for verification who have lower Expected Family Contributions (EFC). Again, this is not because of anything you did, but because the colleges want to ensure they are not awarding too much financial aid. As long as you were honest when filling out the FAFSA, there is nothing to worry about.
What to do if you were selected for verification
The colleges will send you a letter letting you know you were selected for verification. Sometimes this notification will be included with your financial aid award letter. Therefore, make sure to read everything you receive from the colleges you sent your applications for admission. It will be important to follow all of the instruction and submit all of the documents requested by the date the colleges require. Missing a deadline or forgetting to submit a document may delay financial aid and/or reduce the amount of financial aid you will receive.
If you are selected for verification, you will be asked to verify information by filling out a worksheet or providing documents. Some of the documents you will be asked to submit are W-2s and tax forms. Each college will have their own procedure for receiving this information. Some colleges make it as easy as uploading the documents, while other colleges might need physical copies of the information. Again, it will be very important to follow the instructions and submit everything by the due date. And, if you have any questions about the verification process, don’t hesitate to contact the financial aid office at the colleges. They should be able to answer all of the questions you have about financial aid and verification.
Being selected for verification can seem scary and intimidating. However, it is a common practice and you are not the only one who was selected! As long as you following the directions you receive from the colleges, everything will work out and you will receive your financial aid.