January 2021
Five Tips to Help With the Verification Process
Has your FAFSA been selected for verification? If so, you’re not alone! Last year, about 24% of Maine undergraduate students were selected for verification. Being selected doesn’t mean you did anything wrong! However, the college(s) you’ve been accepted at will be requesting documentation from you to check your FAFSA for accuracy. You must send them this documentation to have your FAFSA reviewed before you can receive financial aid.

Here are 5 tips to help with the verification process:
1. Complete and sign all forms on time!
Each school listed on your FAFSA will notify you of the required documentation and deadline for returning the information. You may be asked:

  • to complete a verification worksheet;
  • to provide copies of W-2(s) if you worked in 2019, and;
  • to document your and your parent’s income (if parent information was needed for you FAFSA).

Start collecting required documents as soon as possible! Make sure any items you turn into the financial aid office are complete, signed, and include your name and student ID.
2. Document your income (or that you have no income).
If parent income was required on your FAFSA, your parent(s) will need to document 2019 income information. If you earned income in 2019, you will need to document that as well. Here are the ways you and/or your parents can document income information.

If you or your parents filed a 2019 Federal Tax Return:

  • Log into your FAFSA and transfer federal tax information using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). For directions on how to use the IRS DRT within your FAFSA click here; or
  • Provide a signed copy of the 2019 Federal Tax Return to the financial aid office; or
  • Submit a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS. To request a tax return transcript from the IRS, visit IRS.gov and click on “Get Your Tax Record” or call 1-800-829-1040.

If your parent(s) did not and was not required to file federal tax returns, your parent(s) must request a Verification of Non-filing Letter from the IRS using Form 4506-T (click here for instructions). If your parent(s) try to obtain but do not receive a Verification of Non-filing Letter, a statement can be signed. Contact your school’s financial aid office for additional information.

Schools will often require 2019 W-2s. If you don’t have them, contact your employer for a copy or request a wage statement from the IRS.
3. Reach out if you are struggling to get the requested documentation.
Due to the pandemic, some requirements have been changed to help remove barriers and make it easier to provide the needed documentation. Let your financial aid office know if you need help as there may be alternative ways to meet the verification requirements.
4. Check your email for any follow up requests for more information.
Once your school(s) begins reviewing your documents, the financial aid office may contact you for more information. Check all of your school email accounts and student portal regularly. You’ll need to complete the verification process before you can receive your financial aid. There may be deadlines so respond to all requests as soon as possible.
5. Even if you're not selected for verification, notify your school if you are struggling to pay your school bill.
If you or family have experienced a decrease in income, a divorce or separation, a death in the family, unusual medical expenses, or other circumstances that impact your family’s ability to pay for school, contact the financial aid office. The FAFSA uses income from two years prior (i.e. the 2021-2022 FAFSA requires 2019 income information) and your circumstances may have changed. Your school won’t know about changes unless you notify them and they will want the chance to re-evaluate your financial aid offer. For more information see FAME’s Steps to Appeal a Financial Aid Offer.
Want more information on the Verification Process?
Join us for this month's FREE Wednesday Webinar:

Verification - Steps to Unlock Financial Aid

Wednesday, January 13, 2020
New Time: 1:00–2:00 p.m.

Realizing that their FAFSA has been selected for verification can be challenging for students and families. Being selected doesn’t mean the student did anything wrong, it just means there are a few more steps to complete before they can receive financial aid. Join us for our webinar “Verification – Steps to Unlock Financial Aid” to find out what is required, what students need to do to get the information, and how the process has recently changed so that you’ll have the information need to support students through this process.
For additional helpful information and resources, find previous issues of 5 on the 5th on our website.

FAME's College Access and Financial Education Team:

Mary Dyer, Financial Education Officer
Maria MacDougal, College Access Counselor
Floreka Malual, College Planning Advisor
Nikki Vachon, College Access Counselor
Jessica Whittier, College Access Counselor
Mila Tappan, College Access and Outreach Manager
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