Verification 2017-2018

A portion of all FAFSA filers are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education. This review process is not an indication that you did something wrong. It is simply a required, sample audit process to ensure accurate delivery of federal aid programs.

Verification may be for one or more of these items:  income, household size, high school completion, or identity. Students need to complete requirements only for those items for which they were selected as described via the "To Do List" when using Catalyst via "check my aid."

Students cannot benefit from non-scholarship aid until the verification process is complete. Any delay can cause the loss of eligibility for limited aid sources. Failure to complete verification prior to your last day of enrollment can result in total loss of aid eligibility.

NOTE: Any federal, state, or institutional grants, work-study, or loans offered in any preliminary award are ESTIMATES of eligibility. Full determination of your award will be made once all verification and other requirements are completed.

Income Verification

Because income is a significant component in determining aid eligibility, it is the most widely verified item.

Most students selected for income verification will have to complete the dependent verification worksheet (if you were required to also use parent data when completing your FAFSA) or the independent verification worksheet, as appropriate.

This form allows students to confirm their household size (in the case of independent students) or their parents' household (when classified as dependent for financial aid purposes). The worksheet also alerts the Student Financial Aid Office how the income information will be verified.

On the surface, it would seem that the same federal government that processes aid would have easy access to your federal tax information. This is not the case. But when you think about it, we all should be happy our information is safeguarded from inter-department sharing within our government.

To make the connection for aid purposes, each tax filer has to authorize release of the IRS information. It can be done online electronically or through a paper process.

  • IRS DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL: This online process is the simplest and most direct way of connecting information from taxes to the FAFSA.

With FAFSAs now using tax data from prior-prior year, there is no longer an overlap of tax filing with FAFSA filing.

Students filing or correcting their FAFSA are able to easily use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer appropriate income information to the FAFSA. Parents who are required to supply income information on the FAFSA can do the same thing in the parent section under most circumstances.

UC is alerted when students (and parents) use the data retrieval tool and transfer income information onto their FAFSA without making changes. These students (and parents) only need to complete the verification worksheet to report their income information was transferred directly from the IRS. Therefore, even if you did not use the data retrieval tool when you completed your FAFSA, you can use it now to update your income information via a FAFSA correction and reduce what you have to submit to Student Financial Aid.

NOTE: Data retrieval is the most efficient way to verify tax information. At the same time, it can take up to a week before the tax request on the "To Do List" listing is updated due to processing time for UC to receive your updated FAFSA.

Watch a video taking you step-by-step through the IRS data retrieval process.

To protect sensitive taxpayer data, the IRS and Federal Student Aid announced in March 2017 the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov will be unavailable until extra security protections can be added. While they are working to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, students and families should plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season (i.e., October 2017).

Until further notice, families, who have not already used the Data Retrieval Tool on this FAFSA, will need to report tax information from their own copies of tax documents when completing or updating a FAFSA and will need to request tax transcripts from IRS or supply signed copies of the appropriate tax forms if they are selected for verification.

  • IRS TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPT: Students (and parents) who are unable to use the retrieval tool will need to submit 2015 Tax Return Transcripts from the IRS.

To receive a transcript, the tax filer (or someone with SSN, date of birth, and address of the tax filer) needs to request the transcript. The preferred method is to view, download, and print the pdf version of your transcript directly from www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript. Otherwise, you can use that same Website to have a copy mailed to you or request one by calling 1-800-908-9946. Be sure to request the IRS Tax Return Transcript, not the IRS Tax Account Transcript.

NOTE: Once you print or receive tax transcripts from IRS, attach them to any required verification worksheet and submit as a package. If you are not requested to complete a verification worksheet, please submit all required tax transcripts together to speed processing at UC.

Of course, you cannot retrieve your data or request a transcript if the IRS does not have your 2015 taxes. Both the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and IRS Tax Return Transcripts require you to have filed your 2015 federal taxes. Your tax information for the online retrieval tool or to request a transcript can take up to 2 weeks from you filing your federal taxes electronically and up to 8 weeks if filed by paper/mail.

If you (or your parents) will not file and are not required to file a 2015 federal income tax return, income information will need to be reported on the verification worksheet. Copies of W-2 forms from any employers should also be attached.

Verification for Non-Tax Filers

New requirements for non-tax filers require documentation on your non-tax filing status as well as verification of income.

In these cases, the student or the parent (whoever is the non-tax filer) will need to supply the following when selected for verification:

All three items must be met along with the associated verification worksheet in order to complete your financial aid application.

Because you are seeking funding from the federal government, we are required to instruct persons who are shown not to have filed a 2015 federal tax with income levels requiring a return to file one prior to continuing the aid process.  

Verifying High School Completion

Ultimately all students seeking aid assistance must provide a final transcript to UC showing graduation, GED completion, or home school credentials. UC will not release aid until this requirement is met. The Department, in selecting a student for verification of high school completion, may require UC to collect documentation prior to awarding aid.

Identity Verification

In rare cases, a student may be selected for identity verification. It will require presenting yourself to UC personnel at One Stop along with a valid government-issued photo ID, such as driver's license, other state ID, or passport.

Students who live far from campus can be given a temporary means to complete the identity process but will need to present themselves with ID upon the start of their enrollment. These students as well as distance learning students who never actually take classes on campus will need to contact Student Financial Aid for an alternate means to verify identity.

Processing and Award Offer

Only submit verification documents requested via the "To Do List" on Catalyst's "My Financials" tab.

The Student Financial Aid Office will review all submitted items for verification. Assuming all conditions are met, you will then be cleared for complete financial aid awarding.

NOTE: Any federal, state, or institutional grants, work-study, or loans offered in any preliminary award are ESTIMATES of eligibility. Full determination of your award will be made once all verification and other requirements are completed.

Students who submit complete verification materials can monitor their status using the "To Do List"" listing within Catalyst keeping in mind processing timeframes mentioned above. Information is updated on the Web as it is processed.

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The U.S. Department of Education has worked with the Department of Treasury's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to streamline income information gathering when students are completing the FAFSA and when selected for income verification.

The completion of the FAFSA uses your (and, if you are dependent, your parents') tax information. Using tax information from 2 years back makes the financial aid process efficient with the IRS Data Retrieval.

Filing taxes on time annually and using the IRS Data Retrieval in future years will lessen your chances of being selected for income verification – or at least simplify the process should you be selected.

Watch a video on IRS data retrieval

NOTE: While the video may reference another tax year, the process for IRS data retrieval remains the same.