FAFSA Verification FAQs – GradPlan

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FAFSA Verification FAQs

Here’s what to do if you've been flagged for FAFSA verification.

Why have I been flagged for verification?

About a third of FAFSA applications are selected each year for a review process called verification. The purpose of verification is to make sure there are no errors on your original FAFSA. Some of the most common flags include a recent change of address, inconsistencies between earnings reported on taxes versus what was reported on the FAFSA, and if your family did not file taxes at all for the tax year being reviewed.

There is no way to completely avoid getting flagged, some schools flag all of their students for verification and others simply choose at random.

How do you know if you are flagged for FAFSA verification?


Check Your Student

Aid Report (SAR)

In your SAR, next to your Expected Family Contribution, there will be an asterisk* if you have been flagged for verification.


Check Your Email

After you file your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education that gives you basic information about your eligibility for financial aid. You will also receive an email from each school that you’re accepted into.

If you don’t see any emails, here are some phrases to search for in your inbox AND spam:

  • FAFSA verification
  • Missing Documents
  • Action Required
  • Non-filing status

What to do if you are flagged for verification?

Determine which verification is needed

  • Each college may request different information and may have a unique process for verifying that information.
  • Make sure to read through the email from your school carefully.
  • You can also call your school’s financial aid office if you’re not sure what is needed.

Respond quickly

  • Often, the form you need to complete is in your college portal, or has been emailed to you. And..
  • There’s often a deadline, so work with your parent/guardian to get the necessary paperwork in as soon as possible. And…

Be sure to complete all paperwork accurately and provide required signatures before submitting.

Don’t wait to call your college’s financial aid office if you’re confused.

Common information that often needs to be verified includes:

  • The number of people in your household. Verify this by:
    • Listing out the people in your household, their names, ages, and relationship to you.
  • The income of the people in your household. Ways to verify income:
    • The IRS data retrieval tool or an IRS tax transcript (if your parent(s) filed taxes).
    • A copy of income tax returns can also be sent for verification (if you or your family filed taxes online – just login and print a copy).
    • Submitting a Form 4506T (if your parent(s) did not file taxes)
    • If you are unable to obtain a Verification of Non-filing Form, institutions can now accept a signed statement that you and your family have made a good faith effort to obtain the documentation and were unable to obtain it.
    • W-2s received from employer (if there was income earned from work)

Submit the necessary paperwork and follow up!

  • After you’ve submitted the paperwork, wait 2 weeks to see if your account has been updated.
  • If it has not been, FOLLOW UP by calling your college’s financial aid office. Don’t wait.
  • This is one of those issues that will not go away on its own and it will impact your financial aid, so prioritize getting this done right away!

Additional Resources

This video is a quick tutorial about FAFSA verification made by Val from OneGoal New York but we are sharing it with the public! (Please excuse any program lingo such as “OneGoal Fellows” or “PD” as it was made for one of our classes but much of the FAFSA info is still relevant.)

  • ISACorps Mentor! – The Illinois Student Assistance Corps is a talented group of recent college graduates who are trained to serve as near peer mentors to high school students. These mentors have specifically been trained on FAFSA and verification. Search for your ISACorps Mentor by zip code!
Recommended Resources


Financial Aid

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