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Verification

Verification is a process used to review information submitted through the FAFSA to ensure that it was completed accurately.  This process is initiated by the U.S. Department of Education.  During verification, the UMSL Financial Aid Office will collect documents to determine whether certain questions on the FAFSA were reported correctly. 

If you are selected for verification, you must do the following:

  • Download a Verification Worksheet.
  • Complete, sign, and return the worksheet with appropriate tax information for the calendar year preceding the academic year for which you are applying:  (2017-2018 FAFSA requires verification of 2015 tax information and 2018-2019 requires 2016 tax information).
  • Federal regulations now require tax information, that is submitted for verification purposes, to be obtained directly from the IRS either by choosing the IRS Data Retrieval Option on the FAFSA (the preferred method) or by requesting a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS and submitting it to our office.  Please DO NOT submit copies of your federal tax returns. For additional information about requesting a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS, click here.
  • Monitor your UMSL email and MyView accounts.  If additional information/documents are needed, they will be requested via email and/or MyView.
  • If information needs to be corrected, our office will submit the corrections electronically and continue the file review after the corrections have been accepted and processed by the Central Processor. If corrections are not required, the review will continue.

Because there are certain deadlines, it is important that the verification process be completed in a timely manner.  Failure to complete verification of your application will prevent you from receiving a financial aid award.  For the Federal Pell Grant, verification materials must be submitted no later than 90 days after the last day of attendance, whichever is earlier.  For all other programs, our office must receive verification materials no later than the last date of attendance.  We cannot offer you financial aid if you are no longer attending classes.

Allow approximately 7-14 business days following receipt of your materials for the verification review, and an additional time if corrections are required. 

IMPORTANT: If you wait until the summer months to submit the documents needed for the process to be completed, the amount of time it takes to complete the verification process may increase.  Coordinators will contact students via their UMSL email address if additional information is required; please make sure you are checking your emails during the summer.

FAFSA Filing Tips

  • The 2018-2019 FAFSA will use the 2016 tax information and should be completed by UMSL's February 1st priority deadline to be considered for all financial aid.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to choose the Link to IRS feature on the FAFSA.  If the applicant and/or parent recently filed federal tax returns, the FAFSA process will inform the applicant that tax information electronically filed (within the last 3 weeks) or submitted by mail (within the last 6-8 weeks) may not be available.  By selecting Link to IRS, your tax-related information is automatically transferred to the FAFSA.
  • Changes made to IRS data transferred to the FAFSA will compromise the data and require submission of a Federal IRS Tax Transcript if selected for Verification.
  • If your Tax information has significantly changed since 2016, you will still report 2016 information on your 2018-2019 FAFSA.  However you can contact our office to discuss a Special Circumstance Appeal.

Are you Eligible to Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Dependent and independent applicants (and the dependent applicant’s parent) who meet all of the following criteria may be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval process:
  • Must have a valid Social Security Number and legal name match,
  • Must have filed the appropriate federal tax return, and
  • The following does not apply to the applicant and/or parent(s)’ tax filing and/or marital status:
    • Married Filing Separately
    • Filed or will file an amended tax return
    • Filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return
    • Applied for a Federal IRS Tax Filing Extension
    • Federal Tax Return was recently filed.  In general, you should allow 3 weeks for processing of an electronically filed federal tax return and 6-8 weeks for a tax return filed by paper

What is Your Next Step?

Applicant and/or Parent Eligible to Transfer Data

If the above tax filing or marital status criteria are not applicable to the student and/or parent, he or she is eligible to transfer appropriate tax data from the IRS to the FAFSA:

  • Enter Your FSA ID.
  • When a married parent needs to provide his or her FSA ID, the FAFSA process will ask which parent is linking to the IRS Web site to determine which parent’s FSA ID is required for the FAFSA.
  • When a student is completing an initial FAFSA, the FAFSA process will ask the applicant to enter their FSA ID before linking to the IRS Web site.
  • Link to FSA ID Options:  
    • “Create an FSA ID Now,” for applicants who don’t have a FSA ID; or
    • “I Forgot/Don’t Know FSA ID” for applicants who have a Federal Student Aid PIN
  • Link to IRS button with FSA ID.

Applicant and/or Parent Not Eligible to Transfer Data

When one or more of the first six tax filing or marital status filtering questions above is applicable, the FAFSA process will bypass the option to Link to the IRS and inform the applicant, based on his or her response, that he or she is not eligible to transfer tax data from the IRS to the FAFSA.

If you are ineligible to use the FAFSA Link to IRS feature because of your tax filing and/or marital status, and your FAFSA is selected for Verification, you will be required to submit the following documentation to verify your reported FAFSA income data:

Status

Required Income Verification for Tax Filers

Married Filing Separately

Federal IRS Tax Return Transcript for BOTH tax filers.

Married Filing Head of Household

Federal IRS Tax Return Transcript. 

Filed or Will File Amended Return

Federal IRS Amended Tax Return Transcript *and* IRS Tax Account Transcript.

Filed Puerto Rican Tax Return

Signed copy of the Puerto Rican Tax Return.

Filed Foreign Tax Return

Signed copy of the Foreign Tax Return

 

Parent of a dependent student whose income is used in the calculation of the applicant's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) if the parent filed a joint income tax return and the parent is married to someone other than the individual included on the joint income tax return.

  • Parents' joint Federal IRS Tax Return Transcript
  • IRS Form W-2 for each source of employment income received
  • Step-parent Federal IRS Tax Return Transcript

Parent of a dependent student whose income is used in the calculation of the applicant's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) if the parent filed a joint income tax return and the parent is separated, divorced, or  a widow of the individual included on the joint income tax return.

  • Parents' joint Federal IRS Tax Return Transcript
  • IRS Form W-2 for each source of employment income received

Independent student who filed a joint income tax return and who is married to someone other than the individual included on the joint income tax return.

  • Student joint Federal IRS Tax Return Transcript
  • IRS Form W-2 for each source of employment income received
  • Federal IRS Tax Return Transcript for spouse

Independent student who filed a joint income tax return and who is separated, divorced or a widow of the individual included on the joint income tax return.

  • Student joint Federal IRS Tax Return Transcript
  • IRS Form W-2 for each source of employment income received

IRS Tax Return Transcript Request Process

The best way to verify income is by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool that is part of FAFSA on the Web.  If you have not already used the tool, go to www.FAFSA.ed.gov, login to your FAFSA record, select "Make FAFSA Corrections", and navigate to the Financial Information section of the form.  From there, follow the instructions to determine if you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your Federal income tax information to your FAFSA.  It takes up to two weeks for IRS income information to be available for the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for electronic IRS tax return filers, and up to eight weeks for paper IRS tax return filers.  If you need more information about when, or how to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, see your Financial Aid Coordinator.

If you are unable or choose not to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool in FAFSA on the Web, you must submit a Federal Income Tax Return Transcript - not a photocopy of the income tax return.  The Free IRS Tax Return Transcript can be requested in one of three ways:

Request Online

  1. Go to www.IRS.gov
  2. Click on the "Order a Return or Account Transcript" link.  It is free - you do not need to pay for it.
  3. Enter the tax filer's social security number, date of birth, street address and zip code.  Use the address that was listed on the latest tax return filed.
  4. Make sure to request the Free IRS Tax Return Transcript not the IRS Tax Account Transcript.
  5. For more detailed steps about requesting a transcript online, click here.
Request by Paper
  1. Download IRS Form 4506T-EZ
  2. Complete lines 1-4, following the instructions on page 2 of the form.  Note that line 3 should be the most current address on file with the IRS.  This is the address where the IRS Tax Return Transcript will be sent.  If the address has recently changed, include the address listed on the latest tax return filed on line 4.
  3. Line 5 provides tax filers with the option to have their IRS Tax Return Transcript mailed directly to a third party by the IRS.
  4. Enter the correct year on line 6 to receive IRS tax information that is required for the FAFSA.
  5. The tax filers must sign and date the form and enter their telephone number.  Only one signature is required to request a transcript for a joint return.
  6. Mail or fax the completed IRS Form 4506T-EZ to the appropriate address or fax number provided on page 2 of Form 4506T-EZ.

Processing Form 4506T-EZ means verifying/validating the information provided on the form.  If any information does not match the IRS records, the IRS will notify the tax filer that it was not able to provide the transcript.  If successfully validated, tax filers can expect to receive a paper IRS Tax Return Transcript, at the address included in their request, with 5 to 10 days from the time the request was successfully transmitted to the IRS.