FAFSA Verification Process
Students may be selected by the Central Processing System (CPS) or CVCC to review their documentation submitted to FAFSA. If selected, the student will go through a verification process.
What is verification?
Verification is a process in which information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is reviewed by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to check the accuracy and completeness of the data supplied by the student and/or parent(s). Federal guidelines require that verification be performed on applicants selected by the Central Processing System (CPS) or by the school. At CVCC, federal verification is performed on all applicants selected by the CPS and any other application selected by the college. If selected for verification, the student should immediately submit all requested documentation to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid for review.
How will I know if I am selected for verification?
If selected for verification, there will be an asterisk next to your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) figure on your Student Aid Report (SAR). Students selected for verification will also receive an email from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid identifying what documentation will be required before a financial aid award is made. Students may also be selected for verification by the Office of Scholarships Financial Aid.
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 FAFSA was inconsistent, if the FAFSA you submitted was incomplete, or if your FAFSA contained estimated information.
Where do I send my documents?
All forms and supporting documentation must be submitted to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Failure to submit the requested documents will result in a delay of your financial aid.
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. CVCC only verifies the FAFSA information of selected students or in special cases when inconsistent information is found. Sending in information that is not required could result in unnecessary delays in the disbursement of your financial aid.
When do I need to submit the verification documents?
The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will not disburse Federal Title IV or need-based institutional aid until the verification process has been completed. Thus, it is very important for students to submit required documentation as soon as possible.
If I am selected for verification, what do I need to do?
If your FAFSA is selected for verification, participation in the verification process is mandatory and must occur before federal and state aid is disbursed. Students must submit the required documentation. Please note that during the process of verification, new or additional information may be required in order to clarify inconsistencies. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will contact you via your CVCC student email if additional clarification or documentation is needed. It is important to respond to any information requests immediately.
Verification will be completed when all required information is received by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Financial aid will not be awarded until all submitted documentation has been verified by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid Office, and the US Department of Education has received and processed any changes to the latest FAFSA data. If the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid makes corrections to your FAFSA, you will be notified by email.
What documents are required to complete the verification process?
- The IRS tax transcript is required for anyone who filed a tax return but did not complete the IRS Data Retrieval. We are unable to accept copies of a tax forms. You must order an official IRS Tax Return Transcript.
- A verification worksheet
- W-2's showing wages (parent and student if the student is dependent)
- Statement of child support paid
- other documentation as needed
Students and parents should ensure that all documents are signed and the student's name and ID Number is noted on all pages.
What is an IRS Tax Return Transcript? Is this the same as a copy of a tax return?
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 income and tax information for verification, you can obtain a free Federal Tax Return Transcript directly from the IRS by visiting Welcome to Get Transcripts 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 on the IRS website.
What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) and why should I use it?
Per federal regulations, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid cannot 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 DRT within the online FAFSA website or provide an official IRS Tax Return Transcript. The IRS DRT may be used to import processed income tax information already within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) database directly into the FAFSA. Students and parents may elect to use IRS DRT when initially filing a FAFSA. They also may file the FAFSA with estimated data, later utilizing IRS DRT to update the FAFSA after their Federal tax return has been processed. For assistance with the IRS DRT for the FAFSA, visit the FAFSA HELP webpage and click on “IRS DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL.”
A free IRS Tax Return Transcript may be obtained directly from the IRS by online request or by mail, calling 1 (800) 908-9946, or by completing and mailing Form 4506–T (PDF). Visit the IRS Get Transcript Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
When is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) available for use?
The IRS DRT is only available once a Federal income tax return has been filed and processed by the IRS. In general, income and tax information will be available for import by the IRS DRT within 3–4 weeks if a Federal return is filed electronically. Federal income tax returns submitted by regular mail may need to wait 8–11 weeks for tax information to be available via the IRS DRT. Filers who owe taxes may experience longer wait times before they may access the IRS DRT in the FAFSA, particularly during peak tax filing season.
Are there filers who should not attempt to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) if selected for verification?
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:
- 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.
- Filers who were married the previous calendar year but now are separated/divorced should also submit all W-2 forms if selected for verification
- Filers whose tax filing and marital statuses are inconsistent with reported household information on the FAFSA may be required to send additional documentation.
- Biological/adoptive parents of a dependent student who are unmarried, but live together
- Married tax filers who:
- file Married-Separately
- file Head of Household (meeting the special requirements regarding timing and maintenance of a separate household from their spouse). Additional documentation of these circumstances will be requested.
- Filers who have performed a direct rollover of their IRAs in the previous calendar year. Use of the IRS DRT may make it appear that they have a large amount of untaxed income at their disposal. Filers in these circumstances should submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript with the word “Rollover” next to the “Total IRA Distributions” field and a 1099R or other supplemental documentation from the companies verifying the transaction.
- Filers who have accomplished a conversion to a Roth IRA in the previous calendar year. Use of the IRS DRT may make it appear that they have more accessible taxable income. Filers in these circumstances should submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript with the word “Rollover” next to the “Total IRA Distributions” field and a 1099R or other supplemental documentation from the companies verifying the transaction.
What happens if an amended tax returns needs to be filed?
If an amended tax return is filed, the following documents are needed:
- A signed copy of the original tax return that was submitted to the IRS
- A Tax Return Transcript from IRS
- A signed copy of the IRS Form 1040X that was submitted to IRS.
What should I do if I have been selected for verification but have an extension to file my tax return?
Students and/or parents who are required to submit income and tax information for the purposes of verification will only be able to access the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) or IRS Tax Return Transcript once their Federal income tax returns have been processed by the IRS. If you have been selected for verification and if a tax-filing extension has been completed, you should provide the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid a copy of the IRS Form 4868, Unexpired IRS approval of extension beyond the automatic 6-month approval, IRS Verification of Non-Filing letter dated after October 1, 2017 and all W-2 forms for the tax year. W-2 forms will be used to estimate the filer’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) figure for the purposes of verification. If W-2 forms are unavailable or are not a valid estimate of AGI for the given tax year, a written statement of estimated Adjusted Gross Income may be accepted.
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. The IRS website may be used to obtain directions, forms, and answers to frequently asked questions or 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. If evidence suggests that a student or parent should have filed, but did not, this represents conflicting information and must be resolved.
Are there Special Cases in which other documentation may be accepted in lieu of an IRS Tax Return Transcript or use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
If a student and/or parent is able to obtain alternate official documentation (such as the “Return Transcript for Tax Payer”) directly from the IRS that includes all income and tax information for the tax year to be verified, AND if the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA) judges this alternate documentation to be official and complete, such documentation may be used in rare circumstances to complete the verification process in lieu of the IRS Tax Return Transcript. The OSFA is aware of only the following circumstances in which students and parents who have filed returns cannot use IRS Data Retrieval, nor can they submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript:
- Cases of Identity Theft: The student and/or parent should submit:
- Statement signed and dated by tax filer indicating they were a victim of IRS-related identity theft and the IRS has been made aware and
- An IRS Tax Return Database View (TRDBV) transcript
- Filing of Tax Returns Outside the US: When students/ parents are not obligated to file US income tax returns and ONLY file abroad:
- Citizens of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam should submit a signed copy of their commonwealth’s/ territory’s tax return (e.g. the Planilla de Contribución Sobre for residents of PR).
- Citizens of the Freely Associated States should submit signed copies of Wage and Tax Statements from each employer - and - a signed statement identifying all income and taxes for the tax year.
- Citizens of foreign countries should submit:
- A signed and dated copy of the foreign tax return with an English translation of all pertinent fields - and - a monetary conversion of foreign currency to US dollars at the exchange rate in effect when you originally filed your FAFSA, or
- A signed statement identifying all income and taxes paid for the tax year (for foreign citizens not obligated to file a foreign tax return).
If my parents do not claim me on their taxes, why am I still considered dependent? For federal and state financial aid purposes, a student is only considered independent if one or more of the following are true:
- you are 24 years old;
- you are enrolled in a graduate degree program;
- you are married;
- you have children or other dependents who receive more than half of their support from you;
- both of your parents are deceased;
- you are (or were until age 18) a ward/dependent of the court; or
- you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
If none of these statements applies, you must provide parent information on your FAFSA and other financial aid documents. Extenuating circumstances may be reviewed by on a case by case basis to determine whether or not professional judgment may be granted.
Will being selected for verification prevent my aid from disbursing?
YES! Your financial aid will not be disbursed until you have submitted all requested documents and the information has been verified by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. In addition, the US Department of Education must receive and accept changes to the original FAFSA information prior to disbursement.
When is the Verification Process Complete?
The verification process is complete when all requested documents have been submitted to the Office of Student Financial Aid and necessary corrections have been made with the Department of Education. Once the verification process is complete, students will be notified of their award package generally within 5–7 days. The student will be directed to log into "MYCVCC Portal" to review their award and other notifications.
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. Once the corrections are made, the corrected data is submitted electronically to the Department of Education. Processing may take 3–5 business days after a corrected FAFSA is received. 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. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will notify you of any changes to aid via your CVCC student email account. You may also view your financial information via "MYCVCC Portal" online. In some cases, when financial aid has already been disbursed and the EFC increases after a late verification process, certain forms of aid may have to be returned to the Department of Education.
What if I do not want to complete the verification process?
Students and parents are under no obligation to complete the verification process; however, you are not eligible for federal or state financial assistance. If you do not wish to complete the verification process, you should notify the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid via email or letter. We will stop the communication process.
What if Fraud is suspected?
CVCC is required to notify the US Office of Inspector General if it is suspected or reported that a student, employee or other individual has misreported information or altered documentation submitted in order for a student to fraudulently obtain federal funds. Knowledge of fraudulent information should be reported to the director in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at (828) 327-7000, ext. 4860 or to the Office of Inspector General at (404) 974-9430.
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