Have you been chosen for FAFSA verification?
Not to worry! According to U.S. News, over one-third of FAFSA applicants are chosen for this type of audit. Some small colleges even elect to verify 100% of their applicants.
As deadlines have passed and you have filed your FAFSA, now comes the time when financial aid offices may be contacting you or your student about the verification process. Essentially, it’s an audit that colleges do to verify the numbers you submitted in your original filing.
While this may seem stressful at first, these helpful tips can help you to navigate your FAFSA verification.
Keep all pertinent documentation available
The verification process typically starts up after tax return season. This is a good time to have all of those documents filed and accessible in case you’re chosen for an audit. Your college financial aid office will ask for a variety of different documents such as W-2s, tax return transcripts and siblings’ college registration forms.
Just because you receive a verification request doesn’t mean that the office suspects that your FAFSA data was incorrect. If you keep all of your documentation ready to go, this will be an easy step. The financial aid office can decide to keep your student’s financial award the same, decrease it or increase it depending on the resolution.
Stay on top of communication around FAFSA verification season
Your FAFSA may have been chosen for verification, but you just haven’t seen the communication. This could delay your award or you may even lose some of your financial aid if you miss this important period. During the verification process, financial aid offices will send out notices by mail or more commonly emails to students’ college email addresses.
After FAFSA filing deadlines, you’ll want to watch your communications from the school to see if they’re requesting verification on any of the information you supplied in your FAFSA application.
At some universities, unresolved verifications can result in students having to pay for their tuition out-of-pocket or risk cancellation of their classes. Staying alert for any emails or notices can help avoid this issue.
Update your information with online tools
Because most states’ and university deadlines pass before tax returns are due, you may end up using estimated income when filing your FAFSA. However, by using the IRS data retrieval tool, you can potentially bypass the verification process.
The best way to use this tool if you had to file your FAFSA before your tax return, is to update your data after your return has been completed and sent to the IRS. It pulls over information from your tax return and inputs it directly into your FAFSA.
A huge perk of using this tool is that any data pulled over isn’t subject to verification if you can update your FAFSA before your college verification starts.
Verification doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Staying attentive to your inbox, using IRS tools, and keeping relevant documents in one place makes a college audit a less taxing experience for you and your student.