Often times, students inadvertently make mistakes on their FAFSA application that can drastically change the amount of aid a student qualifies for. As a result, the Department of Education has a process known as verification to help catch these problems. Approximately 30% of all FAFSA applications are randomly selected by the Department of Education for verification.
So what exactly are we looking to verify you might ask? Most often, Financial Aid Offices are verifying the income listed on the FAFSA for the student and/or Parents for the prior tax year, and the size of the student’s household. Occasionally, offices are also required to verify Food Stamp benefits, and Child support paid or received.
If you are selected, your school will notify you of the required documents that you must submit to complete this Verification process. At UMBC, our office will generate Financial Aid To-Do’s on your myUMBC account. It is critical to respond to these To-Do’s as soon as possible to make sure that your aid is posted in plenty of time for the upcoming school year!
To verify your household size, we will be requesting either a Dependent or Independent Verification form. This can be found on our website at http://www.umbc.edu/financialaid/forms.html.
To verify the income listed on your FAFSA for you and/or Parent’s, you will need to submit your tax information in one of two ways:
- IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT): The DRT tool is located on your FAFSA under the income section for both parent and student. This tool will allow students and parents to access their IRS Tax Return information and transfer it directly into the FAFSA. It is very important to not manually change this information once you have transferred it. The DRT will be available to students around 3-4 weeks after filing electronically or 8-10 weeks after filing by mail.
- Tax Return Transcript: Students and/or parents not eligible for the DRT can submit a copy of their Tax Return Transcript. This can be requested online through the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript#. Beginning this year, students and parents can access a PDF version of their transcript for immediate access. Students are asked to submit the transcript to our office for verification purposes. This transcript is typically available within 3-4 weeks of filing electronically or 8-10 weeks after filing by mail.
It is important to note that the Department of Education does not allow Financial Aid Office to accept copies of a 1040 form for either parent or student. Also note that if a student and/or parent is filing an Amended Tax Return, or Tax Return Extension, they should contact their Financial Aid Office for further direction.
If you have further questions regarding the Verification process, please contact your Financial Aid Counselor! You can find all of our contact information at http://www.umbc.edu/financialaid/contact.html.