What is FAFSA Verification?
Verification is a process mandated by the Department of Education in which college financial aid offices confirm the accuracy and completeness of the information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Students are selected for FAFSA Verification by the Department of Education. Students may also be selected for Institutional Verification, in which a college selects a student to confirm the information reported on the FAFSA and other financial aid applications.
How will I know if I have been selected for Verification?
The Student Aid Report (SAR), the report that students receive after the FAFSA has been processed, will indicate if you have been selected by the Department of Education for Federal Verification. The college will also notify you if you have been selected for Federal or Institutional Verification, and will inform you of documentation needed.
What information will be verified?
The financial aid office may need to verify any of the following: data from the federal income tax return, untaxed income, household size, number of students in college, household resources, child support paid, high school completion status, and identity.
What documentation will be requested?
If you need to verify federal tax data, you will be required to utilize the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool or submit a tax return transcript or a copy of your signed federal tax return. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows you to transmit federal tax data from the IRS to the FAFSA. Families selected for Federal Verification who are not able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool are required to submit a tax return transcript or a copy of their signed federal tax return to the financial aid office. If the college is verifying non-tax information, the college will notify you of additional documentation needed. You should always forward documentation to colleges as soon as possible.
How do I obtain a tax return transcript?
A tax return transcript can be requested in one of three ways:
- Online at IRS.gov: Click Get a tax transcript. You can choose to receive the transcript online (immediately) or by mail.
- Phone: Call (800) 908-9946
- Paper Request Form: Complete IRS Form 4506-T (available on IRS.gov). Mail or fax the completed form to the contact information displayed on the form.
If you select to have the transcript mailed, you can expect to receive it within 5-10 days after the IRS receives the request.
What happens if a student is selected for FAFSA Verification but the family does not file taxes?
If a student is selected for Verification and the student and/or parent(s) does not file taxes, the family should follow the instructions provided by the financial aid office.
How can I prepare for FAFSA Verification?
It's a good idea to start a financial aid file to prepare for Verification, which can include documentation such as income and financial statements used to complete the financial aid applications as well as application log-ins and passwords. Below is a list of items to consider including:
- Year-end bank statements and account summaries
- Year-end pay stubs, W2s, and 1099s
- Most recently completed tax returns and/or tax return transcript
- Copy of any correspondence with financial aid offices
- Private scholarship information