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FAFSA verification confirms that the data reported on your financial aid application is accurate. It’s important to know that this verification process doesn’t mean that you or your family did anything wrong. About ⅓ of applicants are selected for verification, some at random, some because there was some sort of mismatching information on your FAFSA that needs further explanation. Here are some tips to making the verification as smooth as possible:

1. Consider the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

To minimize your chances of verification selections in the first place (and to make your life easier), you should think about using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This is a federal tool that transfers information directly from tax returns to the FAFSA electronically. The people who use this tool are automatically confirmed in the information they submit. This is a great option to keep in mind, though it may not be for everyone.

2. Pay attention

If selected for verification, your financial aid package could encounter delays. Many schools will reach out to you via personal email, school email, or your student account. You should get into the habit of checking all of these accounts consistently after filling out the FAFSA. Typically, if you see an asterisk next to “expected family contribution” number on the Student Aid Report (SAR), that’s an indication of selection.

3. Gather the correct documents

A few main areas from your FAFSA that you may verify include tax information, the number of people in your house, specifically the number of children in college, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, child support, and high school completion status.

4. Be wary of deadlines

Verification won’t affect your financial aid, as long as you meet your college’s deadline. If you miss it, your school can’t offer you any federal financial aid. So you can see why it is SO important to make sure you send your verification materials before your deadline and stay on top of things!

5. Follow up

If selected for verification, the financial aid package a college awards is merely an estimate until the verification process is complete. This could mean your financial package is offering you too much or too little.

Hopefully with these steps, FAFSA verification is slightly less daunting! Even if you weren’t selected this year for verification, it’s important to remain aware of this process since you must complete a FAFSA each year of college and there is a chance you can be working through FAFSA verification later down the road!