FAFSA FAQs: Verification, Changes, PINs and Status

Dear College Made Simple reader,

A number of students and families are now preparing their FAFSA applications to head out the door – if they aren’t gone already (January 1st is the earliest one can submit a FAFSA – and, as we’ve noted many times, you want to make sure you’re submitting your FAFSA before the ‘priority filing date’).

Hopefully, your process will be a smooth one. All too frequently, however, that’s not the case. Here are some of those situations – detailed below in our ongoing series of FAFSA Questions & Answers, prepared by our own FAFSA “guru,” Jodi Polster.

– Scott

FAFSA Questions And Answers

Q: What happens if I’m selected for FAFSA verification?

A: A number of applications get flagged for verification every year. FAFSA recommends colleges verify at least 30% — and some colleges choose to verify every application that passes through their hands.

If there’s a discrepancy between your FAFSA information and that which a college has… or if you’ve used estimates as placeholders when submitting your original FAFSA – there’s a chance you’ll be selected for verification as well.

Note that roughly one-third of FAFSA forms are selected for verification – minimum – so you’re in good company if you fall into this category. This is a normal part of the process – this isn’t like being audited by the IRS.

Each verification process will be different, so all you can do to prepare is have your information handy. That means things like tax returns, proof of income, proof of expenses and proof of investment account values..

If you’re selected for verification, the U.S. Department of Education will send you a worksheet – just complete this and send it (along with copies of any necessary information) to your college. If you have any questions about your particular situation, call your college’s financial aid office and they’ll be able to help.

 Q: How Do I Make Changes To My FAFSA?

A: Let’s say that you realize, after turning in your application, that some of the information is incorrect. Fortunately, you can change just about anything online, except for an incorrect Social Security number. Just go to fafsa.ed.gov and you’ll be guided through the necessary steps. You will need to have a student PIN #, and a parent PIN # may be helpful as well (see the next question).

If you incorrectly entered a social security number, the online process won’t help you. You’ll have to fill out a 10-page Student Aid Report. You can get that by calling 800.433.3243, selecting “Application Status” from the prompts, and then “Paper SAR.” Answer the automated questions, and you’ll get a 10-page SAR mailed to you in 7-10 days. From there, you can correct anything – including a bad social security number, a mistyped last name (especially one with one of the first two letters wrong, which makes for major filing headaches).

Note that you are able to add or change colleges directly on the FAFSA.

If you submitted online, you can make corrections immediately. If you submitted a paper FAFSA through the mail, any corrections need to be made through the mail.

Q: How Do I Get My PIN?

A: As you noticed in the above answer, you need a pin to work with your FAFSA application online.

If you applied online, you had to get a PIN before you could submit your application (and, if the student is a dependent, at least one parent or guardian had to get a separate PIN).

However, if you’ve forgotten your PIN – or you submitted via mail and now want to make changes online – you can get a new PIN, update your attached email or address, request to change or retrieve a PIN – or, really, do anything PIN-related – at http://www.pin.ed.gov.

Go there, and you’ll be able to handle all your PIN issues quickly and easily.

Q: How Do I Check The Status Of My Submitted FAFSA?

A: There are two ways to check your status. You can go to fafsa.ed.gov and click ‘Start Here’ – from there, just follow the correct links, and you’ll get your answer.

Alternatively, you can call 800.433.3243 and enquire that way. If you haven’t gotten an answer that way because your application is still being processed, wait a few days before you try again.

To your college funding & admissions success,

Jodi Polster

Service Specialist, College Planning Network LLC

CollegeMadeSimple.com – The free educational resource of College Planning Network


Related Articles:

3 Questions Families Should Know About the FAFSA

FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions

What to do After the FAFSA

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.