Verification is the process that reviews the FAFSA for accuracy. The U.S. Department of Education randomly selects 30 percent of all FAFSAs for verification and specifies what documents need to be reviewed for this process.
Alma College selects additional students if conflicting information is present. If selected, we will contact you for documentation that supports the information you reported.
What Information is Verified?
This verification item looks at how many people qualify as living in the household. The following people count as being in the household of a dependent student’s parents, per the FAFSA’s instructions:
The student and parents: Even if the student is not living with the parents, he or she counts as being in the household. You must exclude a parent who has died or is not living in the household because of separation or divorce.
The student’s siblings: If the student’s brother or sister will be receiving more than half their support from the parent(s) during the academic year, they count as being in the parent’s household.
Other persons who live with and receive more than half their support from the student’s parent(s) and who will continue to receive more than half their support for the entire award year.
Number in College
This verification item looks at how many people in the household are attending/will be attending college at least part time for the upcoming academic year. Count yourself as a college student. Only include other people living in the household that are also attending college at least half time. DO NOT include parents who are attending college.
Tax and Income Information
The verification process will require confirmation of your income, both taxed and untaxed. This will include items such as W-2s, schedule Cs, 1099 forms, and tax return transcripts/FAFSA Data Retrieval. See more information below.
Income Tax Return Information
Tax filers may use either Option 1 or Option 2 listed below to provide the income tax information needed.
OPTION 1: IRS Data Retrieval Tool
Pulls the IRS income tax return information directly from the IRS into the FAFSA. To use this tool, return to your FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov. See Tax Information Sheet above or watch the following video for detailed instructions.
OPTION 2: Tax Return Transcript
There are several situations where the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) does not work. If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool and you have been selected for verification, you will need to obtain a “Tax Return Transcript” from the IRS. This can be done by visiting an IRS Service Center, by calling 800-908-9946 or by visiting www.irs.gov.
NOTE: There is a difference between a Tax Return Transcript and a Tax Account Transcript. We cannot use the Tax Account Transcript to complete the verification process. Be certain to request a Tax Return Transcript.
Non Tax Filers
If you or your parent(s) are not required to file a federal tax return, please indicate this on the verification worksheet under section C. In addition, you must provide a detailed list of your income in the previous year and include supporting documentation such as W-2s.
Tax Return Error
If you filed your federal tax return incorrectly and we identify this error in the review of your financial aid application and supporting documents, we are required to notify you of the error and request that you submit a correction to the IRS. While we cannot require you to make the correction, we cannot continue the processing of your financial aid application until this has been done per federal regulations. For example, one of the most common errors we find is when one member of a married couple chooses to file as single or as head of household. With few exceptions, if you were married on the last day of the tax year, you must file as either married filing jointly or married filing separately. You should consult with the IRS or a qualified tax professional if you have questions on your filing status.
Special Issues - Tax Filing
There are many special situations that occur during the tax filing process. Please review carefully below for specific instructions for what should be done if you, your spouse, or your parent(s) fall within these situations. If you believe you have a different special filing issue, please contact our office at 989-463-7347 or email@example.com.
Amended Tax Return
If you filed your federal tax return incorrectly and you had to make a correction to your tax return, you will need to submit a variety of items. Please note that when you submit an amended tax return, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool no longer provides the correct data on the FAFSA. You will need to provide us with two documents to satisfy the tax information requirement:
- The Tax Return Transcript
- A signed copy of the IRS Form 1040X you submitted to the IRS
Victims of IRS Identity Theft
Those that have fallen victim of the IRS identity theft and therefore are not able to obtain the IRS Tax Return Transcript or utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within FAFSA, must contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490. The individual must then request an IRS Transcript Database View (TRDBV) and the document must be submitted to our office. In addition we will need a signed and dated statement by the tax filer indicating they were victims and that the IRS is aware of the tax-related identity theft.
If you or your parent were approved a filing extension by the IRS, we will need the following documents:
- A copy of the IRS Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) that was filed with the IRS for the tax year.
- If additional extension is requested, we will need a copy of the IRS’s approval for extension beyond the automatic six-month extension.
- A copy of the IRS Form W-2 for the tax year for each source of employment income received; if self-employed, we will need a signed statement certifying the amount of the individual’s adjusted gross income (AGI) and the U.S. income tax paid for the tax year.
If you or your parents reported on the FAFSA that you had no income or very low income, we may ask you to explain to us how it is you and, if applicable, your family were able to provide for living expenses, such as housing and food. A number of benefit programs are not reported on the FAFSA, such as government benefit programs or housing assistance. If you and your family were supported through this or similar type of benefit program, please let us know. If you were living with someone who provided shelter and meals, let us know who and their relationship to you. We may ask for documentation to support such benefits and/or living arrangements.
Some types of income are not reported on the tax return but still must be included on the FAFSA and therefore, still must be verified. An example of untaxed income is any pre-tax contribution made to an IRS approved retirement account (401K, IRA, etc.). When submitting documentation to our office for verification, please also submit any supporting documentation for any untaxed income received (such as a W2 form, 1099 form, Social Security Benefits statement, etc.). Do not include the following on the FAFSA as untaxed income: student aid; earned income credit; additional child tax credit; welfare payments; untaxed Social Security benefits; Supplemental Security Income; Workforce Investment Act educational benefits; on-base military housing or a military housing allowance; combat pay; benefits from flexible spending arrangements (e.g., cafeteria plans); foreign income exclusion; or credit for federal tax on special fuels.