Once you file your FAFSA, you may be selected by the U. S. Department of Education for review in a process called verification. A message included on your Student Aid Report (your FAFSA confirmation report) will inform you of your selection for this process. Students selected for federal verification are required to submit additional documents to the Financial Aid Office at Tompkins Cortland Community College before federal student aid can be awarded to you. The U.S. Department of Education authorizes colleges to compare data reported on the FAFSA with other agencies and documents to verify the accuracy of information reported on the FAFSA.
Students selected for verification will receive a letter or email from us asking for additional information or forms. Students may view the documents the Financial Aid Office is missing on their MyINFO account by clicking on “Finances” tab and selecting “Financial Aid.” Students may download, print forms and submit them to our office via fax, mail or email.
Records selected for verification are reviewed once the Financial Aid Office has received all requested documents properly completed and signed. We may ask for additional documents once we begin the verification process to resolve conflicting information or to verify the accuracy of certain data elements of the FAFSA.
The deadline to submit verification documents to the financial aid office is ninety days from the last day of classes for the fall and spring terms and thirty days after the end of the summer term. Submission of verification documents after the last day of classes eliminates some forms of financial aid available to you. Most aid programs require classes to be in session when the funds are given to the student.
IRS Data Retrieval Tool
The most common verification data element is income. In order to complete the federal verification process, students and parents who filed a federal tax return must either use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript to the Financial Aid Office. This process is required of both students and parents when they have filed or are required to file federal tax returns. The Financial Aid Office cannot accept copies of federal tax returns to verify income.
The best way to verify taxable and certain untaxable income is to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) which is part of the FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov. This option expedites the processing of your financial aid application.
To successfully use the IRS DRT the taxpayer must:
- Have a federal tax return filed with the IRS.
- Have a valid social security number.
- Have an FSA ID.
IRS DRT steps:
- Go to the FAFSA website (fafsa.ed.gov).
- Select Make FAFSA Corrections. Login.
- Click on Financial Information.
- On the question “Did you file a tax return?” select already completed from the parent drop-down box. Follow the same procedure for the student if the student filed a federal tax return.
- Enter the taxpayer’s FSA ID and click Link To IRS
- Your FAFSA will be saved and you will be transferred to the IRS Web site.
- On the IRS Web site, enter the requested information.
- Once the IRS has validated your identification, your IRS tax information will display. You can either transfer your information from the IRS to your FAFSA, or choose to return to FAFSA on the Web from the IRS Web site. If you do not transfer your information or choose not to return from the IRS Web site, your tax information will not be added to your FAFSA.
- If you transfer your IRS tax information, questions that are populated with tax information will be marked with “Transferred from the IRS.”
- Resubmit your FAFSA. This is a key step. If you fail to do it, the Financial Aid Office will not receive confirmation that you completed the IRS Data Retrieval process.
You will be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if the:
- Taxpayer electronically filed the tax return within the last 1-2 weeks or mailed a return within the last 6-8 weeks.
- Student’s or parents’ marital status changed after December 31 of tax filing year.
- Taxpayer filing status was married filing separately.
- Taxpayer filed an amended return.
- Taxpayer filed a foreign tax return.
- Taxpayer filed a tax return using a Tax ID Number (TIN).
- The home address on the FAFSA does not match the address on the tax return.
Please note: If the taxpayer owed money to the IRS when the tax return was filed, even if a payment was submitted with the tax return, the IRS DRT may not be available until late June.
If you are unable to utilize the IRS DRT tool for any of the above reasons, please submit a 2015 Tax Return Transcript.
IRS Tax Return Transcript Request
If you are unable to link the FAFSA to the IRS, then you must obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript. “Get Transcript” is an IRS online service that allows a taxpayer to request a tax return transcript. The tax return transcript is the only acceptable document to verify United States taxable income. The Financial Aid Office cannot accept copies of tax returns.
To request an official tax transcript from the IRS –
- Go to the IRS website, www.irs.gov
- Under ‘Tools’, Click “Get A Tax Transcript”
- Click “Get Transcript by Mail”
- Complete the online form with SSN# - DOB – Street Address - Zip Code as shown on tax return
- Type of Transcript - Select Return Transcript.
- Tax Year - Select 2015
Once the IRS accepts your request for a 2015 Tax Return Transcript, allow 5-10 days to receive it. The transcript will be sent to the address on the 2015 Tax return. You may send a copy of your 2015 Tax Return Transcript to our office by mail, fax or email. Be sure to write the student’s name and Tompkins Cortland ID on the top of the transcript to ensure it is properly matched to the appropriate student record.
Taxpayers with 2015 Amended Tax Returns
For students and/or parents who filed a 2015 amended federal income tax return, the following documents are required to complete federal verification:
- IRS 2015 Tax Return Transcript that includes information from the original tax return AND
- A signed copy of the 2015 Form 1040X that was filed with the IRS.
Victims of IRS Identity Theft
A victim of IRS identity theft who is not able to obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript or use the IRS DRT must complete the following steps:
- Contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490.
- Upon authentication of the taxpayer’s identity, the IRS will provide, by U.S. Postal Service, an alternative transcript, Tax Return DataBase View (TRDV), of the taxpayer’s IRS income tax return information. Send the TRDV to the Financial Aid Office. Remember to write the student’s name and Tompkins Cortland ID at the top of the TRDV.
- Provide a statement, signed and dated by the tax payer, indicating that he/she was a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS has been made aware of the tax-related identity theft.
Individuals Who Filed Foreign Income Tax Returns
An individual who filed or will file an income tax return with Puerto Rico, another U.S. territory (e.g., Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas Islands), or with a foreign country, must provide a signed copy of their foreign income tax return(s).
Other Verification Data Elements
While income is the primary verification data element, schools are also required to verify household size, number in college, high school completion status, untaxed income, citizenship and unusual enrollment history. The College will notify you of the documents needed to complete all verification requirements.