January 2019
5 Tips to Help You Navigate the Verification Process
Has your FAFSA been selected for verification? If so, you’re not alone! Last year, approximately 31% of Maine students were selected for verification by the Department of Education. If you are selected, each school you’ve applied to is required to review certain questions on the FASFA. Being selected for verification does not mean you did anything wrong! However, you will need to provide the requested information to the Financial Aid Office before financial aid will be awarded.

Here are 5 tips to help you navigate the verification process:
1. Complete and sign all forms sent by your school(s) on time
Each school listed on the FAFSA will notify you of the required documentation and deadline by when the forms must be returned to the Financial Aid Office. You may be asked to complete a verification worksheet, provide W-2(s), and verify tax information. Start collecting required documents as soon as possible! Before submitting, make sure all forms are complete, signed, and have your name and student ID on them so the forms can be connected to you.
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 2017 federal income tax information (or proof that no tax return was filed). If you filed taxes, you will also need to document your 2017 federal income information. Federal income information can be documented in one of two ways: log into your FAFSA and import federal tax information using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) OR get a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS.

  • For directions on how to use the IRS DRT within your FAFSA click here
  • To request a tax return transcript from the IRS, visit IRS.gov or call 1-800-829-1040.
  • If your parent(s) did not and was not required to file federal taxes, that parent must obtain a Verification of Non-filing Letter.
  • For directions to request a tax return transcript or Verification of Non-filing Letter click here.

Also, gather copies of all 2017 W-2s. If you don’t have them, contact your employer or request a wage statement from the IRS.

If needing to obtain information from the IRS, please see this Important Notice .
3. Check your email for any follow up requests for more information
Check your school email (each school has its own system and it’s their primary way of communicating) and student portal regularly for updates or requested documentation. After your school begins the verification review process, the Financial Aid Office may contact you for more information or clarification. Financial aid cannot be awarded until the verification process is complete, so it's important to respond to all requests.
4. Even if you're not selected for verification, notify your school of any changes or "special circumstances"
The FAFSA uses tax data from two years prior (the 2019-2020 FAFSA required 2017 income information) and your circumstances may now be different. If there has been a significant reduction in income, a divorce or separation, a death in the family, unusual medical expenses, or other extenuating circumstances that affect your family’s ability to pay for college, contact the school's Financial Aid Office. You can and should notify the Financial Aid Office of any changes that impact your family’s ability to pay for school so they can determine whether your financial aid award can be updated.
5 . Stay connected with the Financial Aid Office
Financial Aid Offices work hard to keep students up to date. However it's a good idea to follow up with the Financial Aid Office after you have submitted paperwork or whenever you have questions. Contact them via email to make sure everything is complete and to find out when you will receive your award letter. You can also call, but with email, you have everything in writing to refer back to if you have questions.
Want More Information?
Join us for this month's FREE Wednesday Webinar:
Verification - The Next Hurdle After the FAFSA
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
10:00–11:00 a.m.

Last year more students than ever were selected for verification and getting through this process was a challenge for many. In this webinar we’ll discuss what verification is, who is being selected, and what is required. We’ll also focus resolving the challenges around completing the requirements, including ways to support our most needy students. Sample verification forms and request for information will be shared.  
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:

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