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Verification | FAFSA | Federal Requirement

What is Verification?

The Department of Education (ED) describes verification as: "The process your school uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Your school has the authority [by federal regulation] to contact you for documentation that supports income and other information that you reported." 

In signing the FAFSA on paper or electronically, "You agree, if asked, to provide information that will verify the accuracy of your completed form. This information may include U.S. or state income tax forms that you filed or are required to file."  Approximately 30% of all students nationwide that apply for federal aid are selected for verification by the federal government.  The laws that govern verification are federal laws and cannot be waived unless a student decides to not use federal aid.

ALERT:  Effective January 9, 2019, we may accept signed tax returns in place of IRS tax return transcripts as previously requested. This updated guidance is effective for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years.

View Verification of Income & Tax Information Video


 
  • All required documents must be submitted by the established deadlines.
  • Due to recent IRS changes to protect taxpayer data, tax transcripts will no longer include the full last name or the entire social security number. Students submitting a tax transcript (via fax, DocuSign, or in-person) must include their Last Name and PBSC ID on each page of the tax transcript. Failure to comply with this important change may result in a significant delay in processing your verification and financial aid package.
  • Upon receipt of all required documents, the Office of Financial Aid will review all submissions and either complete verification or request additional information.
  • Requests for additional information are typically needed when incomplete or conflicting documents are submitted.  You can minimize the risk of needing to submit additional documents by carefully reading and following all instructions, completing forms entirely and truthfully, and submitting all required documentation.
  • The Office of Financial Aid has the authority to request any documentation they believe may impact the student's federal aid eligibility. 
  • Completing the verification process is not a guarantee that your bill will be covered in full by financial aid. Individual circumstances may require additional funding to be secured.
  • Federal Aid includes: Federal Pell Grants, SEOG, Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans, TEACH Grants, work-study and PLUS loans

Verification Worksheet

  • Do not leave any blanks and be sure to sign where indicated (students and parents of dependent students.)
  • Carefully read all sections and respond accordingly. 

IRS Tax Return Transcript

  • How to Obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript Guide
  • For the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school year, students and/or parents that do NOT use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within the FAFSA must submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript or a signed U.S. Federal Income Tax Return if selected for verification. 
  • Request the Tax Return Transcript, not the Account Transcript for the year requested. 
  • Transcripts are double-sided; be sure to submit a copy of both sides.

Note: During peak processing times (August and January), it may take up to four weeks to process verification materials. Therefore, students are strongly advised to submit their FAFSA early and respond to any requirements as soon as possible.

Verification is intended to improve the accuracy of the information submitted on the FAFSA, thereby, adding integrity to the Federal Student Aid programs. 
Approximately 30% of all students are chosen to go through the verification process (true at all colleges and universities nationwide). Some students are chosen randomly while others are chosen due to discrepant information provided on the FAFSA. Some students are selected after they have received an award letter. It is not unusual for a student to go through the process several years in a row.

(Applicable for Fall 2018, Spring 2019, and Summer 2019)

Dependent Students: 2018-2019 Academic Year

Required Documents for Dependent Students

  1. Completed verification worksheet.
  2. Student's 2016 W2 statements, Student's 2016 signed federal tax return or federal tax return transcript
    • If the student worked but did not file taxes, they must check the appropriate box on the verification worksheet and submit their W-2 statements from 2016.
  3. Parents' 2016 signed federal tax return OR federal tax return transcript*.  If your parents are self-employed or have partnership or S-Corp income, please also submit IRS Schedule C and/or E.
    • If the parent worked but did not file taxes, submit your parents’ W-2 statements from 2016 and request a tax return transcript from the IRS to confirm their non-filing status for 2016.
    • If the IRS is unable to furnish the non-filing status letter, your parent must submit a signed statement attesting to this fact. 
    • The non-filing letter can be obtained online via the IRS website or via Form 4506-T.

* Students and parents that transferred their income data using the IRS Data Retrieval may not be required to submit the federal tax transcript.

 

Independent Students: 2018-2019 Academic Year

Required Documents for Independent Students

  1. Completed verification worksheet.
  2. Student's 2016 signed federal tax return OR federal federal tax return transcript*. If you are self-employed or have partnership or S-Corp income, please also submit IRS Schedule C and/or E.
    • If the student worked but did not file taxes:  Submit your W-2 statements from 2016 and request a tax return transcript to confirm your non-filing status for 2016.  If the IRS is unable to furnish the non-filing status letter, you must submit a signed statement attesting to this fact. 
    • The non-filing letter can be obtained online via the IRS website or via Form 4506-T.
  3. Spouse's 2016 signed federal tax return OR federal tax transcript* (if married)
    • If the spouse worked but did not file taxes: Submit their W-2 statements from 2016 and request a tax return transcript to confirm their non-filing status for 2016. If the IRS is unable to furnish the non-filing status letter, your spouse must submit a signed statement attesting to this fact. 
    • The non-filing letter can be obtained online via the IRS website or via Form 4506-T.

* Students and parents that transferred their income data using the IRS Data Retrieval may not be required to submit the federal tax transcript.

(Applicable for Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020)


Dependent Students: 2019-2020 Academic Year

Required Documents for Dependent Students

  1. Completed 2019-2020 verification worksheet.
  2. Student's 2017 W2 statements, Student's 2017 signed federal tax return or federal tax return transcript
    • If the student worked but did not file taxes, they must check the appropriate box on the verification worksheet and submit their W-2 statements from 2017.
  3. Parents' 2017 signed federal tax return OR federal tax return transcript*.  If your parents are self-employed or have partnership or S-Corp income, please also submit IRS Schedule C and/or E.
    • If the parent worked but did not file taxes, submit your parents’ W-2 statements from 2017 and request a tax return transcript from the IRS to confirm their non-filing status for 2017.
    • If the IRS is unable to furnish the non-filing status letter, your parent must submit a signed statement attesting to this fact. (Note: There is a separate form under the General Forms section for Student, Parent and Spouse. Double check the title of the form to be sure you are filling out the correct one)
    • The non-filing letter can be obtained online via the IRS website or via Form 4506-T.

* Students and parents that transferred their income data using the IRS Data Retrieval may not be required to submit the federal tax transcript.

Independent Students: 2019-2020 Academic Year

Required Documents for Independent Students

  1. Completed 2019-2020 verification worksheet.
  2. Student's 2017 signed federal tax return OR federal federal tax return transcript*. If you are self-employed or have partnership or S-Corp income, please also submit IRS Schedule C and/or E.
    • If the student worked but did not file taxes:  Submit your W-2 statements from 2017 and request a tax return transcript to confirm your non-filing status for 2017.  If the IRS is unable to furnish the non-filing status letter, you must submit a signed statement attesting to this fact. (Note: There is a separate form under the General Forms section for Student, Parent and Spouse. Double check the title of the form to be sure you are filling out the correct one)
    • The non-filing letter can be obtained online via the IRS website or via Form 4506-T.
  3. Spouse's 2017 signed federal tax return OR federal tax return transcript*. (if married) 
    • If the spouse worked but did not file taxes: Submit their W-2 statements from 2017 and request a tax return transcript to confirm their non-filing status for 2017. If the IRS is unable to furnish the non-filing status letter, your spouse must submit a signed statement attesting to this fact. (Note: There is a separate form under the General Forms section for Student, Parent and Spouse. Double check the title of the form to be sure you are filling out the correct one)
    • The non-filing letter can be obtained online via the IRS website or via Form 4506-T.

* Students and parents that transferred their income data using the IRS Data Retrieval may not be required to submit the federal tax transcript.

Students are notified via their PBSC email and on the PantherWeb Portal. The notification details all documents that must be submitted.

Be advised that the notification on the Student Aid Report that you have been selected for verification does not necessarily mean that Palm Beach State College will require verification documentation. 

Students and/or parents may elect to make a correction to their processed FAFSA to link to the IRS instead of requesting an IRS Tax Return Transcript. Individuals that choose this option should notify the FAO to ensure the correct FAFSA transaction is reviewed. To link to the IRS, students log into www.fafsa.gov and Make a Correction to a processed FAFSA. Under the income sections for students and parents there are questions that enable the use of the IRS DRT.

Watch a video on how to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

For students and parents granted a tax filing extension, submit IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File a U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You must also provide a copy of all your W-2 forms or, if self-employed, a signed statement with the amount of their AGI and their U.S. income taxes paid.  These documents will replace the tax return transcript.

A small number of financial aid applicants will be required to complete the Statement of Educational Purpose Form. The US Department of Education selects which students must complete the statement and colleges and universities cannot disburse aid until the statement is received.

The Statement of Educational Purpose certifies the student's identity and attests that the student will only use federal student aid for educational purposes and for the cost of attending college during the specified academic year. Students will be notified by the Office of Financial Aid if they must complete the Statement of Educational Purpose and they may download it from the Financial Aid Forms page of PBSC’s website. The form must be notarized or completed in-person at the Financial Aid Office. Students must present a valid, unexpired, government-issued photo identification such as a passport or driver's license.

The deadline to submit verification documents is dependent on the type of federal student aid the student is eligible to receive (see chart below).  If the deadline is not met, the student becomes ineligible for that aid program.  This cannot be appealed and is a federal requirement.

Federal Student Aid Chart
Federal Aid Program Verification Deadline
Direct Subsidized / Unsubsidized Loan The verification process must be completed before the student stops attending on a half-time (6.0 credits) basis in the academic year.
SEOG Grant  The verification process must be completed before the student stops attending in the academic year and the student must also be eligible for a Pell grant.
Federal Work-Study Students are not permitted to work if they have not complied with verification.
Federal Parent PLUS or Graduate PLUS Loans The verification process must be completed before the student stops attending on a half-time, 6.0 credits, basis in the academic year.
Federal Pell Grant Students have up to 120 days after they stop attending in the academic year to complete verification to receive a Pell Grant, if they otherwise qualify.

Once all the required documentation is received, an advisor will review the information and submit corrections to the federal processor as needed. Be advised that sometimes after the documentation is reviewed, it becomes clear that additional documents are needed. Therefore, students should check their Financial Aid Application status frequently. Once the corrected FAFSA is received by PBSC, federal aid can be offered and/or disbursed to the student. During peak times (semester start-up), processing time can take 4 weeks to have aid offered. Therefore, students are strongly encouraged to submit their FAFSA by March 1 to allow ample processing time for the following Fall or Spring semesters. During non-peak times, students that have submitted all documentation are typically reviewed within one to two weeks and aid offered accordingly.
No, verification must be completed first. The only exception is if a student is selected after federal aid has paid to their account; those funds will not be sent back to ED unless completion of verification necessitates it, or the student fails to submit the required documents. 
If you were selected because there was a clear error on your FAFSA, completing it more accurately in a subsequent year may prevent you from being selected again. There is no way to avoid being randomly selected. Using the IRS Data Retrieval can minimize the documents required if selected for verification. Individuals that use the data retrieval are typically not required to submit their federal tax return transcript.
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