Verification

Q:  What is verification?

A:  Verification is a process in which information on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is reviewed by a school for accuracy and completeness. Each year, the Federal U.S. Department of Education selects certain applicants for verification. The verification process requires the Office of Student Financial Aid Services to confirm the data supplied by the student and/or parent(s). Although the University cannot determine who will be selected for verification each year, students should anticipate selection. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, immediately submit all requested documentation to our office for review. Failure to provide required documentation by stated deadlines may negatively impact your financial aid award package.

Q:  How will I know if I am selected for verification?

A:  Your Student Aid Report (SAR) will indicate whether or not your file has been selected for verification. The SAR is typically accessed via a link sent to you by the U.S. Department of Education after you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you are selected for verification, there will be an asterisk* next to your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) figure on your SAR. You will also receive a letter and/or email notification from the Financial Aid Office alerting of what documentation you will be required to submit before your financial aid application is fully processed.

Q:  Should I send documentation even if my application has not been selected for verification?

Students should not send any financial documentation unless requested to do so. Sending in information that is not required could result in unnecessary delays in the disbursement of your financial aid. If you need to make corrections to your FAFSA, you may do so by logging into your application online.

Q:  Why was I selected for verification?

Many students selected for verification are chosen randomly. However, you are more likely to be selected for verification if the data you provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was inconsistent, if the FAFSA you submitted was incomplete, or if your FAFSA contained estimated information.

Q:  If I am selected for verification, what do I need to do?

If your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was selected, participation in the verification process is mandatory and must occur before need-based Federal student financial aid will disburse. Students must submit the required documentation to verify the information on the FAFSA.

Please note that during the process of verification, new or additional information may be required in order to clarify inconsistencies. The Financial Aid Office will contact you via email if additional clarification is needed.  It is important to respond to any information requests immediately.

Per regulations,  we can not accept copies of tax returns for verification purposes, except in rare, special circumstances. Therefore, if tax and income data are requested, students should either update the FAFSA application by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within the online FAFSA website –or- provide an official IRS Tax Return Transcript. A free IRS Tax Return Transcript may be obtained directly from the IRS by online request, by calling 1-800-908-9946, or by completing and mailing Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, selecting the “Return Transcript” option. Further information about IRS tax return transcripts can be found at www.IRS.gov.

Verification will be completed when all required information is received. Your financial aid will not show as anticipated or be disbursed until all submitted documentation has been verified and the U.S. Department of Education has received and accepted any changes to the original FAFSA data.

Q:  What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) and why should I use it?

IRS Data Retrieval is an option within the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This function may be used to import income and tax information already within the Federal Internal Revenue Service database directly into the FAFSA. Students and parents may elect to use IRS Data Retrieval when initially filing a FAFSA. They also may file the FAFSA with estimated data, later utilizing IRS Data Retrieval to update the FAFSA after their Federal tax returns have been processed.If a student/parent changes information on the FAFSA after using the IRS Data Retrieval, this information will not be acceptable for the purposes of official verification and an official IRS Tax Return Transcript or use of IRS Data Retrieval without subsequent edits will be required.Use of the IRS DRT is optional, but recommended as it eliminates the possibility of errors on certain data elements. It is a secure way to populate or update FAFSA information in the most efficient manner possible. Use of IRS Data Retrieval may mitigate processing delays which impact receipt of financial aid packages in a timely manner.

Q:  Are there filers who should not attempt to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) if selected for verification?

A:  There are certain circumstances in which filers cannot or should not attempt use of IRS Data Retrieval and should request the IRS Tax Return Transcript instead if documentation of income/tax info is required for verification. These are:

  1. Any tax filer whose marital status has changed from the time s/he has filed the FAFSA to present. Use of the IRS DRT will not supply enough information in these cases to accurately complete verification.
  2. Filers who were married the previous calendar year but now are separated/divorced should also submit all W-2 forms if selected for verification
  3. Filers whose tax filing and marital statuses are inconsistent with reported household information on the FAFSA may be required to send additional documentation.
  4. Biological/adoptive parents of a dependent student who are unmarried, but live together
  5. Married tax filers who…file Married-Separately

Q:  What is an IRS Tax Return Transcript? Is this the same as a copy of a tax return?

A:  An IRS Tax Return Transcript is NOT the same as a copy of the 1040 Federal income tax return. Federal aid regulations prohibit the use of a copy of a signed tax return as part of the verification process, with a few, rare exceptions. If you cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval function within the FAFSA, and must supply the IRS Tax Return Transcript.

Q:  When do I need to submit the verification documents?

A:  The Financial Aid Office will not disburse Federal Title IV or need-based institutiona/statel aid until the verification process has been completed. Thus, it is very important for students to submit required documentation as soon as possible. For students whose applications are selected for verification, financial aid awards are considered tentative until the required evaluation related to the verification process is completed.

Deadlines:

Students selected for verification and awarded an estimated financial aid package must submit all documentation within 21 days and if the information is not received within that time frame a reminder letter is sent.  Students who submit documentation late may not have their financial aid applied by the bill due date and would be personally responsible for payment. 

Q:  Will my financial aid change due to verification?

During the verification process, information is compared to the original data on the FAFSA and corrections may be made. These corrections may lower or raise the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) figure. Financial need is determined by the EFC, therefore a change to the EFC could impact aid eligibility. If the verification process is completed after a student is initially awarded financial aid, changes to the original aid package may occur. We will notify you of any changes to your aid via your email account. In some cases, when financial aid has already been disbursed but the EFC increases after a late verification process, certain forms of aid must be returned to the U.S. Department of Education.

Q:  Will being selected for verification prevent my aid from disbursing?

Your financial aid will not show as anticipated on your  bill or be disbursed until you have submitted all requested documents and the information has been verified. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education must receive and accept changes to the original FAFSA information prior to disbursement.

 

Q:  What if I am selected for verification but will not file a Federal Income Tax Return?

Whether or not you are required to file a Federal income tax return depends on many factors, including your filing status, citizenship, income amount, income sources, age, etc. This Internal Revenue Service (IRS) link may be used to determine whether or not you are required to file. The main IRS website may be used to obtain directions, forms, and answers to frequently asked questions. Further questions should be directed to the IRS or to a qualified tax professional.Students and/or parents whose income falls below the minimum filing threshold for a given tax year should complete the required Verification Worksheet and submit all W-2 forms and/or other statements of income, including a IRS statement of non-filing. If evidence suggests that a student or parent should have filed, but did not, this represents conflicting information which must be resolved.