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Verification is a review process that requires additional information to be submitted to either Montclair State University and/or New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. Not all students are selected for verification.

Why was I selected?

A student’s financial aid application (FAFSA) can be selected for the verification process in one of three ways:

  • The University conducts verification for FAFSAs selected by the US Dept. of Education. In any given academic year, the Financial Aid office reviews over 3,000 applications.
  • The New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) will select student applications for state verification. This process is separate from the US 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, Montclair’s Financial Aid office is required to resolve conflicting information in a student’s file.

How am I notified?

Federal Verification:

Students will be informed on their Student Aid Report (SAR) after their FAFSA is processed. In addition, an email notification will be sent to their Montclair State email address. The email message directs students to review NEST for requested documents.

State Verification:

NJ HESAA sends notification to students directly via email. Students will not be able to see this on their NEST account.

What documents do I need to complete the verification process?

Generally the required documents are:

  • Verification Worksheet: Which can be found on our Forms page.
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool (preferred method): You may choose to use the Data Retrieval Tool via your FAFSA. Additional information is available here. You can also watch this step-by-step video.
  • Tax Return Transcript: The federal government requires students to obtain a tax return transcript instead of submitting the Federal 1040. You can request your transcript online or contact the IRS at 800-908-9946. Dependent students will need to submit this form for themselves and their parents. Independent students will need to submit this form for themselves and their spouse, if married.


  • If you are a dependent student and did not file taxes, we will need a copy of your W-2s and non-filing statement, available under Forms.
  • If you are a dependent student whose parent(s) did not file, they must submit an IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter, which you can obtain when you request your transcript online, along with W-2s.
  • If you are an independent student who did not file, you (and your spouse, if applicable) must submit an IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter, which you can obtain when you request your transcript online, along with W-2s.
  • If you do not have copies of the W-2s for the required tax year, you may obtain copies from your employer or from the IRS by submitting a 4506-T. This request must be sent directly to the IRS; follow instructions on the 4506-T form.

Based on any documents submitted the Financial Aid office may request more details or documentation to resolve any discrepancies. Instructions will be posted on the student’s NEST.

How long will this process take?

Students are advised to submit their documents within 30 days of notification. The verification process can take six (6) to eight (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.

Why are additional documents requested?

Generally there are two reasons:

  • Incomplete documents.
  • The original documents reveal information that was not indicated on the FAFSA and require further clarification.

Will the verification process affect my financial aid award estimate?

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 the financial aid award estimate. Montclair will submit the necessary correction to the FAFSA processor. A student is notified of any changes by an email message to their Montclair State email account. The email message notifies the student to review their aid on NEST.

Other FAQs about verification

  • Will I get selected every year I apply for aid? 
Possibly. Every academic year is considered independently. If the information on the FAFSA meets the US Dept. of Education’s selection criteria, the FAFSA could be selected for verification more than once.
  • Why is the state asking for documentation? 
NJ HESAA’s verification criteria and processes are completely separate from the federal process. Students must submit required documentation to HESAA before the state deadlines. Please be aware that a student may need to submit documentation to both the Financial Aid office and HESAA; this documentation may be the same or may be different. Students are advised to regularly check their NEST and HESAA NJ FAMS for time-sensitive requirements.
  • What happens if I don’t complete verification? 
If a student does not comply with verification, all financial aid awards must be canceled. Continue to monitor your NEST and HESAA NJ FAMS for current status information.