FAFSA Verification Tips and Tricks

Completing FAFSA as a senior in high school is stressful as it is when it comes to applying for colleges. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that must be completed annually in order to receive financial aid—in other words, free money from the government, for University expenses. That includes tuition, fees, room and board, etc.

The sooner a student finishes the application and it is successfully submitted, the less stressful it will be at the end of the day. Having the application done will make things easier when it is time to select what college you want to attend, especially if you are looking at it in terms of receiving aid for college costs.

One might believe that once you submit your FAFSA application for federal financial aid, the process is done and now you will need to wait for a college’s award letter … you’re wrong. 

In a random selection, students are selected for FAFSA verification. This process is done to confirm that the information on the FAFSA is accurate. As a junior at the university doing the process for the third year, it can be difficult. Especially to prospective students who are trying to figure out their award letter to make a final decision. 

My senior year of high school, while doing verification, was a struggle since I am a first-generation student. I was completely clueless about the process. From experience, here are some tips that truly helped me with the process, and I wish I knew them beforehand.

Tip #1: Only go through the verification process for your top three colleges.

As a senior, pick your top three colleges that you genuinely believe you will enjoy and attend. DO NOT be me and do multiple verification processes for each school you got in to. Some may offer you an estimate of your financial aid, but it not worth stressing for schools that you’re not going to attend.

Tip #2: Reach out if you have any questions at all.

Talk to the financial aid office. They are there for a reason, so do not feel timid or shy speaking to them. It is their job to provide useful and important information. If the financial aid office is not responsive, contact your designated guidance counselor of your high school. Having a connection with them will help you in terms of college readiness.

Tip #3: Get organized.

Gather the documents that you need. If you are required to get documents from the Internal Revenue Service, I would suggest working on that as soon as possible. Their website has helping tools to request documents that are needed for the verification process. 

Fill out the verification documents that the college is asking for your verification process. Be sure to answer all of the questions from each form. If a question does not apply to you or are confused, call/visit the financial aid office for clarification.

Tip #4: Stay on top of deadlines.

Last but not least, try to submit the paperwork by the deadline! 

Trust me, the verification process does sound scary, but it is not something to panic about. You got this, and don’t be discouraged! You’re not alone.



Class of 2021
I was born and raised in Cicero, Illinois. Although I entered Illinois as an English major, I trusted my gut and switched to Journalism. Coming to a big institution and being a first-generation student can feel like a handful. However, knowing your resources and getting out of your comfort zone can help in the long run.

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