Improving the Verification Process

Verification is the process used by institutions to check the accuracy of the information the student and, in the case of a dependent student, the student's parents, provided when applying for Title IV federal student aid via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

While verification is an important step in maintaining the integrity of federal aid programs, it imposes significant burdens on students and aid administrators.

Over the last decade, the Department of Education (ED) has made attempts to make the verification process more efficient. But despite the attempts to ease the burden, a complex web of promised solutions and new requirements has resulted in little to no change in verification rates, creating a troubling situation for both students and schools.

NASFAA continues to advocate on behalf of its members and the students they aid, providing thoughtful and burden reducing proposals for changes to the verification process.


  • Reducing the Burden of Proof: FAFSA Verification and Improving Access to Federal Financial Aid
    November 2021 - NASFAA and the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) joined together to survey financial aid administrators and college access and success advisers on the impact of verification on their students and their work within the landscape of verification relief and scrutiny. The resulting paper offers recommendations to decrease the burden verification places on students and financial aid administrators alike.
  • July 2021 - The Department of Education (ED) announced that it would be making temporary changes to the verification process for the 2021-22 award year.
  • NASFAA Data Show Verification Does Not Impact Most Financial Aid Awards
    November 2018 - If survey responses NASFAA received from 45 member institutions representing over 700,000 students are applicable nationally, it appears that current verification efforts are not well targeted and grossly imbalanced. In this one-pager, NASFAA calls for more transparent information about whether current verification efforts actually yield intended results.
  • Issue Brief: Verification
    October 2018 - In order to qualify for federal financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA. Each year, the Department of Education selects millions of applications for further review. For those selected applications, schools are required to validate the submitted information to ensure accuracy of both the FAFSA data and the financial aid awarded.
  • History of Changes to Financial Aid Verification
    July 2018 - This flowchart, which outlines the “one step forward, two steps back” pattern that the financial aid community has come to know with regard to verification, will be used to help with advocacy efforts related to verification, and ultimately, FAFSA simplification.
  • NASFAA Requests Reprieve and Review of VONF Requirements, Data in Letter to ED
    July 2017 - NASFAA urged the Department of Education to press pause on the burdensome Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Verification of Nonfiling (VONF) requirements for independent students and families that do not file a federal tax return.
  • NASFAA Urges ED to Restore DRT, Ease Administrative Burdens Caused by Outage
    March 2017 - NASFAA sent a letter to the Department of Education urging ED to take immediate steps to ease application and verification burdens caused by the sudden outage of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
  • NASFAA Requests Relief on Verification of Non-Filing Requirement
    December 2016 - NASFAA sent a letter requesting a waiver of the Verification of Non-Filing requirement for non tax filers who are selected for verification if the applicant does not meet the registration requirements for the IRS Get Transcript Online functionality.

Publication Date: 11/8/2021

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