Verification is the process in which additional information is requested either by the U.S. Department of Education, New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority and/or the Office of Student Financial Aid to verify information on a student’s FAFSA. Not all students are selected for verification.
Please note that the verification process has changed starting with the 2012-2013 academic year. Please review the documents that you need to complete the verification process as they have changed.
- Why was I selected?
- How is a student notified?
- What documents do I need to complete the verification process?
- How long will this process take?
- Why are additional documents requested?
- Will the verification process affect my financial aid award estimate?
- Other FAQs about verification
A student's financial aid application (FAFSA) can be selected for the verification process in one of three ways:
- The U.S. Dept. of Education selects a minimum of 30% of Montclair's aid population. In any given academic year, this represents over 2,000 selected FAFSAs. The U.S. Dept. of Education establishes the criteria and selects the financial aid applicants. Although selected by the U.S. Dept. of Education, the verification takes place in Montclair's Financial Aid Office.
- The New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) will select student applications for state verification. This process is separate from the U.S. Dept. of Education process. All document requests will come directly from HESAA and should be returned directly to HESAA. It is possible for a student to be selected by both the U.S. Dept. of Education and HESAA.
- In certain cases (less than 1%) Montclair's Financial Aid Office will select a student's file for verification in order to resolve issues related to conflicting information.
New students receive a letter notifying them of the required documents. Continuing students receive an e-mail notification via their MSU e-mail address. The e-mail message directs the student to review the requested documents on the WESS web site. All students will see the required documentation listed on the "Student Requirements" on their WESS account.
NJ HESAA sends notification to students directly. Students will not be able to see this on their WESS accounts.
Generally the required documents are:
- Tax Return Transcript - The Federal Government is now requiring students to obtain a tax return transcript instead of submitting the Federal 1040. Please note that we cannot and will not accept a 1040 under any circumstances. Students will need to contact the IRS to request the tax transcript. You can request the transcript by completing and faxing the transcript request form, by contacting the IRS at 800-908-9946, going to www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript to request the form online or by going to a local IRS office. Dependent students will need to submit this form for themselves and for their parents. Independent students that are married will need to submit this form for themselves and for their spouse.
- If you do not file taxes, we will need a copy of your W-2's and a non-filing statement. ***If you do not know if you have to file taxes, please go to the IRS's website for more information.***
- Proof of SNAP (Food Stamps)
- Proof of Child Support
- Verification worksheet
In addition to the documents listed above the Financial Aid Office may require a more detailed explanation of the students/family's income, investment value, or statement of monthly income vs. monthly household expenses. If that is the case, the information required will be posted to the student’s WESS account under “Student Requirements” in the Financial Aid section.
The verification process can take 7 to 8 weeks depending on the time of the year.
If additional documentation is necessary after the initial review is completed, then the processing time will be extended until the additional documents are received and reviewed.
Generally there are two reasons:
• Incomplete documents;
• The original documents reveal information that was not indicated on the FAFSA and requires further clarification.
Significant differences in the information reported on the FAFSA compared with the actual tax return transcript or household size documentation may result in a change in one or more of the financial aid award estimate. A student is notified of any changes by an e-mail message to their MSU e-mail account. The e-mail message notifies the student to review their aid on WESS.
- Will I get selected every year I apply for aid?
If the information on the FAFSA meets the the U.S. Dept. of Education's selection criteria in a subsequent year, the student's FAFSA data will again require verification in the new academic year.
- Why was I selected this year and not in previous years?
Every academic year is considered independently from the previous year. The fact that a student's file was selected or not selected in the previous year has no bearing on why a student was selected in the current academic year.
- Why is the State asking for documentation?
HESAA's verification criteria and processes are completely separate from the federal process. The documentation must be submitted to HESAA by the student prior to their deadlines to complete the student's state award. A student's FAFSA might be selected by both the U.S. Dept. of Education and HESAA and therefore require submission of the same documentation to both MSU and HESAA.
- Why does MSU select a file for verification?
If the Financial Aid Office has information on a student or parent's income or household which conflicts with information on the FAFSA, then it is a federal regulation to resolve the conflict. MSU resolves the discrepant information by institutionally selecting the student's FAFSA for verification.