The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is the federal financial aid form students complete to apply for all federal student financial aid.
Federal verification is a process which requires institutions to verify the accuracy of the information provided on a student’s FAFSA in an effort to ensure that federal aid is distributed to those who are eligible. If your FAFSA is selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, you are required to provide documentation to the school verifying the information you entered on your FAFSA. Reasons for being selected for verification include: your FAFSA contains estimated information or inconsistencies, was incomplete, or was selected at random.
How will I know that I have been selected for verification?
After submitting your FAFSA, you will receive an electronic Student Aid Report, or SAR. If you have been selected for federal verification, this will be indicated on your SAR.
Required documentation varies depending on the reason(s) your application was selected. Typically, if your FAFSA is selected for verification, you and your parent(s) must complete the following:
- Verification Worksheet
- From the tax year used when completing your FAFSA:
- If your parent(s) have filed federal taxes, they need to submit a signed copy of their federal tax return, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) or submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript
- If you have filed federal taxes, you need to submit a signed copy of your federal tax return, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) or submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript
- If you and/or your parent(s) earned income from any source, submit a copy of each Form W-2 received or if no W-2, a list of the source(s) and total earnings
Our office recommends that you submit verification documents as soon as possible upon being notified of your selection. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, be sure to complete the verification requirements as soon as possible so that your eligibility for federal financial aid can be finalized. New students should submit the documents through the College Board IDOC service. Continuing students should submit the documents directly to the Office of Financial Aid. If you are sending documents to us with Personally Identifiable Information (i.e., Social Security Number, Driver’s License or State ID Number, Alien Registration Number, Date of Birth), we suggest that you take several steps to secure your data. Social Security Numbers should be redacted / blackened out and the message you are sending should be encrypted. In all circumstances, the verification process must be completed by the last day of your enrollment during the school year for which your application has been selected, unless you meet certain federal criteria to be considered for later disbursements. Please see below for additional information on the deadline for completing verification.
IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)
If you did not choose the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) when you initially filed your FAFSA, please complete the following:
- Log-in to fafsa.gov to “Make FAFSA Corrections"
- In the “Financial Information” section, click “Link to IRS”
- On the IRS website, fill out the form and click on “Transfer my tax information into the FAFSA”. Once you complete the IRS information, the system will bring you back to the FAFSA
- Make sure you submit the corrections and sign your FAFSA using your FSA ID
You will be unable to use IRS Data Retrieval Tool if:
- The student/parent is married, and either the student/parent or his/her spouse filed as married filing separately
- The student/parent is married, and either the student/parent or his/her spouse filed as Head of Household
- The parents' marital status is "Unmarried and both legal parents living together"
- The student/parent filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return
- The student/parent filed their tax return electronically within the last three weeks, or through the mail within the last 11 weeks
Additional information about using the DRT is available from the Department of Education.
IRS Tax Return Transcript Request
Tax filers selected for verification and unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval must request a Tax Return Transcript (NOT an Account Transcript) of their tax return from the IRS in one of three ways:
- The IRS website by selecting “Get Transcript ONLINE” or “Get Transcript by MAIL”
- The IRS automated phone transcript service at 1-800-908-9946
- Complete and submit Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T to the IRS by mail
Note: For electronic filers, an IRS Tax Return Transcript may be requested within 2-3 weeks after the return has been accepted by the IRS. The IRS Tax Return Transcript may take up to 8 weeks to be available for those who file paper tax returns.
Identity Theft Information
If you have been a victim of identity theft, you cannot obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript until the issue has been resolved by the IRS. Since resolution can take a significant amount of time, please provide a copy of the Transcript Database View (TRDBV) tax transcript to our office along with a signed and dated statement by the tax filer indicating you were a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and the IRS has been made aware of the tax-related identity theft. You may obtain a copy of the TRDBV from the IRS by calling 1-800-908-4490.
What is the deadline for completing verification?
Verification is complete when we have reviewed all required documentation, and the data in your financial aid application is accurate according to the documentation submitted. In general, verification must be completed by the last day of your enrollment during the school year for which your application has been selected, unless you meet certain federal criteria to be considered for late disbursements. Our office recommends that you submit verification documents as soon as possible upon being notified of your selection.
What happens if I do not complete verification?
If you choose not to, or fail to submit verification documents, we will be unable to complete the review of your eligibility for financial aid.
In rare cases, a student who has already been awarded federal financial aid may be selected for verification after financial aid has disbursed. In the event that this happens, we will send notification by email. Failure to comply with the verification requirements will result in your aid being canceled and any future aid not disbursing to your student account. If financial aid had already disbursed to your student account, your financial aid will also be canceled which may result in a balance on your University student account.
If you are selected for federal verification but do not wish to complete the process and want to cancel your aid application, you should send written notification to the Office of Financial Aid.
If verification determines any of my FAFSA information to be in error, how will the information be corrected?
Our office is required to submit all changes resulting from verification to the Federal Student Aid Processor. The Processor sends a revised electronic Student Aid Report (SAR) to the student. The revised SAR highlights the data that was changed and states that the changes were made by your school.
How will you notify me if the results of verification changed my financial aid eligibility?
In general, the Office of Financial Aid has a practice of completing the verification process prior to preparing a Financial Aid Notification (FAN). As a result, the FAN that you receive will reflect your eligibility post verification.
In rare cases, the Office of Financial Aid will prepare a FAN prior to the completion of the verification process. In those cases, the FAN will include a message that states that the estimated financial aid is subject to change pending the results of verification. Once verification is complete, the updates will be sent to the Federal processor and a revised electronic FAN will be sent.
What does the University do in the event it discovers credible information of fraud or criminal misconduct in connection with the verification process?
By law, the University must refer to the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) any credible information it discovers, including as part of the verification process, that indicates an applicant for federal student aid may have engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with his or her application for such aid. Common types of fraud or misconduct include false claims of independent student status, false claims of citizenship, use of false identities, forgery of signatures of certifications, and false statements of income.
If a University employee suspects that a student, another employee, or some other party has misreported information or altered documentation to fraudulently obtain federal student aid, the employee with such suspicion is required to bring that information to the attention of the University’s Director of Financial Aid. The Director of Financial Aid will work with University legal counsel to review the documentation and determine if a referral to the OIG is required. Any decision to refer information to the OIG will be coordinated by University legal counsel in accordance with the guidance provided in the Federal Student Aid Handbook. The relevant student file will be held in the office of the Director of Financial Aid to ensure that all information is secure once a report is made to the OIG.