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What is verification, and why was I selected?

What is verification, and why was I selected?

To confirm data reported during the Federal Student Aid (FSA) application process, your FAFSA may be selected for verification.  What does this mean for you, and what kind of documentation will be required?  This article will explain the process.

What is verification?

Verification is the process the school uses to confirm FAFSA data are accurate.

Who determines which students are selected?

A student’s FAFSA is selected for verification by either the U.S. Department of Education’s Central Processing System (CPS) - the system that processes the FAFSA - or the school.  CPS randomly selects up to 30 percent of all FAFSA applications for verification.  If yours is selected, the Student Aid Report (resulting from a completed FAFSA) will show an asterisk next to the Expected Family Contribution number.

Schools are also required to verify any application they believe to be incorrect or inconsistent with other information on file, regardless of whether the application was selected for verification by CPS.

What items are verified?

Items requiring verification vary depending on information reported on the individual student’s FAFSA.  Some items that may be verified include:

  • Household size
  • Number of family members in college
  • Adjusted Gross Income
  • U.S. income tax paid
  • Certain untaxed income and benefits
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly the Food Stamp program) benefits
  • Child support paid
  • High school graduation or equivalency
  • Student identity
  • Other untaxed income
  • Income earned from work

However, if the university has any reason to believe that anything reported on the FAFSA is inaccurate or conflicts with other information on file, the university may request additional documentation to resolve any discrepancy.

What kind of documentation is required?

In most cases, the university will require a federal tax transcript from the most recently ended tax year, along with a completed Verification Worksheet (available if you are selected).  With your permission, your finance advisor can work with a partner company to obtain copies of your tax transcripts.  As an alternative, you can request them online at irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript or by calling the Internal Revenue Service at 800.908.9946.

Income not reported on a tax transcript can be verified on the Verification Worksheet or by providing the university with additional backup documentation, if requested.  If you are selected for verification, you will receive notification from the university outlining specific documentation you must submit.

What happens if my FAFSA and verification documents aren’t consistent?

Any necessary corrections must be made to the FAFSA before FSA can be awarded.  FAFSA corrections are generally made by the university based on documentation you provide.

What happens if I don’t – or can’t – provide the documentation requested?

The university cannot award FSA until all verification documents are received and FAFSA corrections are processed.  Also, be aware that there are annual deadlines for submitting verification documentation.

Where can I get more information on this process?

You are encouraged to work closely with your Finance Advisor until the verification process is complete.  For additional information about FSA and the FAFSA, go to studentaid.ed.gov or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800.433.3243.

For other guidance, I can be reached at kim.murphy@phoenix.edu.

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