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Understanding Student Aid Reports and Verification

By: TxCAN   |   March 2022

Student Aid Reports and Financial Aid Verification are key aspects of the financial aid process. uAspire helped to explain key aspects of these processes in their recent training, and a summarized version of their presentation has been brought to you by the TxCAN team.

It is a great accomplishment every time a student completes a FAFSA application. Each submission represents hours of work by the student, their families, and college access professionals. However, FAFSA submission is only one step in the financial aid process. What follows, in the form of the Student Aid Report (SAR) and potential verification, are key components in ensuring students understand and/or receive the federal financial aid needed to start their academic journeys.
The SAR and verification can also be potentially confusing and complicated topics to approach and fully understand. Thankfully, the team at uAspire hosted a training on these two topics, and the TxCAN team has highlighted some key takeaways:

Student Aid Report

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a document generated after a student has successfully completed and submitted their FAFSA application. This document is well known for being the location where students can see their Expected Family Contribution or (EFC). The EFC is used by schools to determine how much financial aid a student will receive. However, there are three common notifications that can be included in the SAR on the Processing Results/FAFSA Data tab that are important to watch out for:

  1. "*” – If the number shown on a student’s EFC is followed by an *, this student has been selected for federal verification.

  2. “C” – If the number shown on a student’s EFC is followed by the letter “C”, this student will need to complete a correction or follow-up for their FAFSA. The information that needs to be reviewed will be highlighted on the FAFSA Data tab.

  3. “h” – On the FAFSA Data tab, there will be items marked with an “h”. The student will need to review these items and make corrections if needed.


In addition to the SAR, some students may be selected to undergo a process called verification. The verification process can happen on the federal and/or institutional level, and it is the means by which a student’s financial information submitted on the FAFSA is confirmed.  If a student you are working with is selected for verification, there are some important details to keep in mind.

  1. Federal vs. Institutional – Verification can happen on the federal or institutional level. Every year the Department of Education selects the information that may need to be verified, but institutions are allowed to seek verification for additional information. This means that even if it was not indicated that a student was selected for verification on their SAR, they can still be selected for verification by individual institutions. 

  2. Federal Verification Requirements 2022-2023: The three items selected by the Department of Education for the 2022-2023 FAFSA Verification are 1) number in household and number in College, (2) tax/income Information, and (3) identity/statement of educational purpose:

    1. Number in Household an Number in College: This will include the number of people within the household who are dependents or receive at least half of their financial support from the student’s parent. The verification form may also include a section for Sibling Enrollment Verification to confirm the number in college.

    2. Tax/Income Information: If taxes were filed, there are three options to verify the tax information: IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) in FAFSA; a signed copy of the 2020 IRS form 1040 with schedules 1, 2, and 3; or a copy of the 2020 IRS Tax Return Transcript.

      If there was not a tax return filed, then it will need to be indicated whether the parent was or was not employed in 2020. If the parent was employed, the employment information will need to be provided along with copies of the W-2 statements. Additionally, schools will request an IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter (VNF), which can be obtained by selecting box seven on the Request for Transcript of Tax Return document. If you have issues obtaining this document or if your student’s parents are undocumented, then it is recommended you reach out to the individual colleges to see if they will accept a written statement submitted by the student and/or parent.

    3. Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose:  This is most common for returning or transfer students. If a student is selected for this type of verification, they must either sign the required document in person or with a notary. This requirement may be flexible due to ongoing concerns related to COVID-19.

The process of successfully completing and submitting the FAFSA can seem long and stressful. But uAspire has some great resources that you can share with students and their families to help navigate this process:

It is our hope these key takeaways and resources from uAspire’s SAR/Verification training will help you feel more prepared moving forward and empower you in your work as college access professionals. If you are interested in learning more about uAspire resources, events, and trainings, reach out to Michelle Murphy at

The Texas College Access Network (TxCAN) connects and supports college access initiatives across Texas, with the goal of increasing access to college and certificate programs.