Flagged for Verification?

Don't worry. Being selected for verification does not mean you did anything wrong or filled out your FAFSA incorrectly.  It's really just a way to ensure funds are being distributed as equitably as possible.

Overview

Verification is the process used to confirm that the data reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is accurate. A percentage of applicants who submit the FAFSA are selected by the U.S. Department of Education for FAFSA Verification. Some schools choose to verify additional FAFSA applicants beyond those selected by the Department of Education. If you are selected for FAFSA Verification, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is required to verify certain data elements reported on your FAFSA using documentation provided by you and your family.

What's Next

If you are selected for FAFSA Verification you must complete a verification worksheet and submit additional documentation based on your dependency status and income. If you are not selected for FAFSA Verification, you do not need to complete FAFSA Verification.

For students who have already deposited with Saint Mary’s, the Financial Aid Office will reach out to you about completing the required steps.  Students not yet deposited will not be contacted.  If changes are made to your FAFSA through the verification review, your eligibility for aid may change as well.

FAFSA Website

Verification Worksheet

The Verification Worksheet will help verify the number of people in your (independent students) or your parent's (dependent students) household and the number in of members in the household that are attending college at least half-time in a degree seeking program. The worksheet will also help to determine what documentation is needed to confirm income information.

Submit all requested information to the Saint Mary’s Financial Aid Office. Make certain all appropriate signatures are provided.

Verification forms available soon.

Providing Documentation of Income for Tax-Filers and Non-Tax-Filers

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is required by law to verify certain data elements reported on your FAFSA using documentation based on your tax-filing status. For dependent students, documentation of income for both parent(s) and student is required. If the parent on the FAFSA is re-married, this includes stepparent. For independent students, documentation of income for the student, and if married spouse, is required.

There are two ways to submit tax information for the FAFSA Verification process depending on the FAFSA year:

2017-2018 FAFSA Verification for 2015 Tax Filers    
Submit a signed copy of your 2015 federal 1040 Tax Return OR provide a copy of your 2015 IRS Tax Return Transcript.

2018-2019 FAFSA Verification for 2016 Tax Filers
Submit your 2016 tax information online via the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool OR provide a copy of your 2016 IRS Tax Return Transcript.

FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool

Tax Return Transcript

An IRS Tax Return Transcript is a typed copy of what was entered on a tax filer's original federal tax return. There is no cost to obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript. It can be ordered for FREE. The IRS will allow a tax filer to request only one IRS Tax Return Transcript each tax year. Therefore, you should retain the original IRS Tax Return Transcript you receive from the IRS and send a copy to Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.

The IRS provides three methods for requesting a Tax Return Transcript be sent by mail.

Online Request

  1. Go to the IRS website.
  2. Select Get Transcript by MAIL
  3. Enter all requested personal information," click on the Continue button
  4. Under Type of Transcript, select Return Transcript
  5. Under Tax Year, select the appropriate tax year indicated on your verification worksheet (ex: 2016 for the 2018-2019 FAFSA). Then click on the Continue button
  6. The request should be complete. Allow 5-10 business days to receive your Tax Return Transcript in the mail.
  7. Forward a copy of your IRS Tax Return Transcript to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Be sure to include the student's SMU ID number on the copy of your IRS Tax Return Transcript so it can be assigned to the student's record.

Paper Request

  1. Download the 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 as filed with the IRS. The IRS Tax Return Transcript will be sent to this address.
  3. Line 5 provides tax filers with option to have their IRS Tax Return Transcript mailed directly to a third party by the IRS. A tax filer could list the address for Saint Mary’s and have the IRS mail his/her IRS Tax Return Transcript directly to Saint Mary's University of Minnesota; however, the Saint Mary's University of Minnesota cannot guarantee the transcript will be matched to the student's record. Therefore, tax filers are encouraged to leave line 5 blank.
  4. On line 6, enter the appropriate tax year.
  5. Tax filers (or spouse, if requesting information from a joint tax return) 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.
  7. Tax filers can expect to receive their transcript within 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives and processes their signed request. NOTE: 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.

Phone Request

  1. Call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946.
  2. Follow prompts to enter the tax filer's Social Security Number and the numbers in his/her street address. Use the address on file with the IRS.
  3. Select Option 2 to request an IRS Tax Return Transcript, and then enter the appropriate tax year.
  4. If successfully validated, tax filers can expect to receive a paper IRS Tax Return Transcript at the address that was used in their telephone request within 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request.
  5. Once received, forward a copy of your IRS Tax Return Transcript to the Saint Mary's University Financial Aid Office. Be sure to include the student's name and SMU ID number on the copy of your IRS Tax Return Transcript so it can be assigned to the student's record.

An IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter - provides proof that the IRS has no record of a filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ for the year you requested.

Non Tax filers can request an IRS Verification of Non-filing of their 2016 tax return status, free of charge, from the IRS.

Note: If you typically would have filed a Puerto Rican or Foreign Income Tax Return you must submit appropriate non-filing documentation from a relevant tax authority.

Online Request

For those who have filed in previous years.
If you have never filed taxes, please use the paper request process detailed below.

IRS Transcript Request

  1. Click “Get Transcript ONLINE”
    (If at any point, you cannot validate your identity – for example, you cannot provide financial verification information or you lack access to a mobile phone – you may use Get Transcript by MAIL, see below)
  2. Enter the non filer’s Social Security Number, email address, filing status, account numbers for loan or credit card associated with your name, and mobile phone associated with your name.
  3. Click “Continue”
  4. Select "Verification of Non-filing Letter " and in the Tax Year field, select "2016".
  5. If successfully validated, you will be able to view your IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter.
  6. Sign and submit the IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter, if requested, to the Saint Mary's University Financial Aid Office; make sure to include the student’s name on the letter.


Paper Request

Download IRS Form 4506-T (PDF)

  1. Complete lines 1 – 4, following the instructions on page 2 of the form.
  2. Line 3: enter the non filer's street address and zip or postal code. Use the address currently on file with the IRS. 
  3. Line 5 provides non filers with the option to have their IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter mailed directly to a third party by the IRS.
    Do not have your IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter sent directly to Saint Mary's University.
  4. Line 6: Enter tax form number 1040.
  5. Line 7: Select the checkbox on the right hand side for Verification of Nonfiling.
  6. Line 9: Year or period requested field, enter "12/31/2016"
  7. The non filer must sign and date the form and enter their telephone number.
    Only one signature is required when requesting a joint IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter.
  8. Mail or fax the completed IRS Form 4506-T to the address (or FAX number) provided on page 2 of Form 4506-T.

If the 4506-T information is successfully validated, tax filers can expect to receive a paper IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter at the address provided on their request within 5 to 10 days.

Sign and submit the IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter, if requested, to the Saint Mary's University Financial Aid Office; make sure to include the student’s name on the letter.

We know you have questions.

Verification can be confusing and stressful.  Below are some of the questions we get asked most often. If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Saint Mary's Financial Aid Office

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 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 at www.IRS.gov.

During the verification process, information is compared to the original data on the FAFSA and corrections may be made. 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 Saint Mary’s Financial Aid Office will notify you of any changes to aid via your Saint Mary’s email account.   In some cases, when financial aid has already been disbursed but the EFC increases after a late verification process, certain forms of aid must be returned to the U.S. Department of Education.

Your financial aid will not show as anticipated on your fee bill or be disbursed until you have submitted all requested documents and the information has been verified by Financial Aid Office. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education must receive and accept changes to the original FAFSA information prior to disbursement.

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 Financial Aid Office a copy of the IRS Form 4868 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. Please note that if verification is not completed by the time the October 15th extension deadline has passed, students and families will be expected to use the IRS DRT to update their Free Application for Federal Student Aid or supply the Financial Aid Office with a tax return transcript to complete the required verification process.

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. This Internal Revenue Service (IRS) link may be used to determine whether or not you are required to file. The main IRS website may be used to obtain directions, forms, and answers to frequently asked questions. Further questions should be directed to the IRS or to 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 which must be resolved.  Students and/or parents who file returns outside the United States should review the Special Cases information.

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 Financial Aid Office 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 Financial Aid Office 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

Amended Returns

Students / parents filing an amended Federal income tax return should submit:

  • An IRS Tax Return Transcript
  • A signed copy of the IRS form 1040x “Amended Individual Income Tax Return” that was filed with the IRS
    In limited circumstances a copy of the corrected IRS form 1040 may be requested.

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 Ingresos 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 & 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)

No.

An IRS Tax Account Transcript has fewer data elements than an IRS Tax Return Transcript. For verification purposes, the only documentation allowed in lieu of IRS Data Retrieval with unchanged data is an IRS Tax Return Transcript, unless there is an allowed special circumstance. You can obtain a free IRS Tax Return Transcript directly from the IRS by 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 at www.IRS.gov.