What documents do I need to submit for FAFSA® verification?

Non-traditional students sometimes have to submit additional documents after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) in a process called Verification.

During this process, college financial aid officials will ask student applicants for copies of documentation that verify the data they put on their FAFSA® form. Many school officials use this process to identify any errors or discrepancies within the application form. 

Students need to submit a range of documents as part of the FAFSA® Verification process. Keep reading below to find out which documents you may need to provide for FAFSA® Verification. 

Income-related documents

School officials may need income-related documents to determine how much your family can contribute to your education. Your school may ask for a copy of the following documents if they need to verify your family’s income. 

  • IRA deductions
  • Untaxed IRA distribution
  • Untaxed pensions
  • Bank statements 
  • Income Tax Returns (1040, 1040EZ, 1099-MISC, W-2, W-4, W-9 and more)
  • Child support paid
  • Government affiliated benefits (disability benefits, food stamps, etc.)

In most cases, school officials use these documents to determine the level of financial assistance you need. If you have any questions, reach out to your school’s financial aid office. They will tell you what they need. 

Household size 

Schools may need to confirm your household size. Knowing the correct amount of people in your household will give them an estimate of how much your family can contribute to your education as well. 

If your school asks for this information, you can confirm the number by making corrections to your FAFSA® and/or submitting a written statement. 

Legal Documents

Students with exceptional circumstances may need to provide legal documents to support the information in their FAFSA®. For instance, if you’re an “independent” non-traditional student, there’s a chance you may need to provide documents to support that claim. 

These legal documents can help:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce documents 
  • Child support 
  • Death certificate
  • Ward of court or foster care documentation
  • Emancipation documents 
  • Legal guardianship documents 

These documents can confirm the student’s dependency status along with other materials. 

What’s next?

The school will give you a detailed list when notified of the verification request. The file will include any required documents. Also, you’ll need to fill out your school’s FAFSA® Verification worksheet. Once you have provided all the required documentation, you should have the green light to receive a financial aid award letter

The federal processor only flags certain data elements that they know are prone to error, but that changes from year to year. Therefore, it’s essential to keep in mind that the need for these documents varies.

Although FAFSA® Verification may sound intimidating, it’s not. They just want evidence that the information you submitted on your FAFSA® is accurate. There’s nothing to worry about as long as you provide those documents.