Verification is a review process in which the Office of Student Financial Assistance determines the accuracy of various data elements reported by the student/parent on the student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education selects approximately 30% of all aid applicants for verification. The Catholic University of America selects an additional percentage of first-time undergraduate students for federal and institutional verification. During the verification process the student and parent will be required to submit documentation for the amounts listed (or not listed) on the financial aid application. The verification process ensures that eligible students receive all the financial aid they are entitled to receive and prevents ineligible students from receiving aid they are not entitled to receive.
Typically, students can expect to receive notification that they have been selected for verification within 10-to-14 business days after the Office of Student Financial Assistance receives the student’s FAFSA results from the federal processors. (Note: Catholic University will not start requesting FAFSA information from the federal processor until February 1st) The Office of Student Financial Assistance will send Missing Information Letters (MIL) to those students who have been selected for verification. The MIL will direct the student to submit several required documents to the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Since academic aid years overlap calendar years, please refer to your MIL or online account for the year appropriate forms and documentation needed. They should be completed in their entirety, signed and mailed to our office within 30 days of your notification. You should not submit verification materials unless you receive a request.
Important: Please submit all requested forms and supporting documentation together at the same time. No processing can take place until all documentation is received.
The IRS announced an upcoming change to federal tax return transcripts. Transcripts will now contain partially redacted personally identifiable information (PII) such as name, Social Security number, and addresses. Make sure to write student ID numbers on all submitted documents.
Participation in the verification process is not optional. If the student does not submit the requested documentation, the student will not be eligible to receive federal or institutional need-based financial aid and the parents of dependent student will not be eligible to receive a PLUS loan.
Students selected for verification will not be packaged for financial aid until the Office of Student Financial Assistance has received all requested required documentation and the verification process has been completed. Depending on the time of year, the verification review process can take up to 20 business days from the time the Office of Student Financial Assistance receives all requested required documents. The process can take longer if additional nonstandard documentation is required. Individuals who have filed extensions or are self-employed and file their taxes later in the year are not excused from the verification process (more information available here). It is recommended that federal income tax returns be filed as soon as possible if selected for verification, since no aid or estimates of aid will be offered until the verification process is completed. The following is a list of standard verification documents
NOTE: If you used the IRS Data Retrieval process when completing your FAFSA and if you did not make any changes to that data, then you do not need to submit an IRS Transcript or W2’s, you only need to complete, sign and submit the Verification Worksheet. Please review the Missing Information Letter (MIL) for information specific to your status. Please send all required documentation at the same time as we will not start the verification process until we receive all documentation.
Verification requirements could change based on federal regulations issued by the Dept. of Education. Your Missing Information Letter (MIL) will include the latest requirements.
How to Obtain a Free Tax Return Transcript from the IRS:
If your FAFSA is selected for verification, and you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval option or you changed the IRS data, you will be required to request a tax return transcript from IRS and submit it to the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Personal copies of tax returns can no longer be accepted.
There are two ways to request your Tax Return Transcript: online, or by mail.
Please make sure you request a Tax Return Transcript.
To order online:
- Go to www.irs.gov
- Under the Tools section select "Get Transcript of Your Tax Records"
- Select if you want to receive the transcript online (instant) or by mail (5 to 10 calendar days)
- Provide the requested information (those who request an instant online transcript will be required to create an account)
A tax return transcript can be ordered by mail:
- Complete Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return)
- Form 4506-T is available online at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506t.pdf.
- Mail to the address indicated on the form
Your transcript(s) will be mailed within 5 to 10 days from the IRS.
Filing an Amended Return:
Students or parents who file an amended return cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval process. Instead, they must request a tax return transcript, but because that document only contains the information on the original return, they must also request a tax account transcript, which contains only the data that was altered. Both documents together can then be used to complete verification. If the tax filer chooses to order them on paper, she must use IRS Form 4506-T rather than Form 4506T-EZ. Recent regulations required a signed copy of the 1040X in addition to the tax account transcript.
Income Information for Tax Filers with Special Circumstances
For an individual who is required to file a U.S. income tax return and has been granted a filing extension by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), we will need:
- A copy of IRS Form 4868, “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return” that the individual filed with the IRS for the tax year in question or a copy of the IRS’s approval of an extension beyond the automatic six-month extension if the individual requested an additional extension of the filing time for the tax year in question.
- A signed statement by a self-employed individual certifying the amount of the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and taxes paid for the tax year in question.
For an individual who has requested a transcript that lists tax account information for the tax year in question and the IRS, a government of a U.S. territory or commonwealth or a foreign central government cannot provide or locate a transcript that lists tax account information.
- A copy of the letter from the IRS, indicated that you have filed but they are unable to provide a tax return transcript
- Copy of the return filed (translated into English if a foreign return)*
- A signed statement certifying the amount of AGI and taxes paid for the tax year in question
For an individual who has not filed and, under IRS rules or other applicable government agency rules, is not required to file an income tax return.
- A signed statement certifying that you have not filed and are not required to file an income tax return for the tax year in question
- The sources of income earned from work as reported on the FAFSA and amounts of income from each source for the tax year in question that is not reported on IRS Form W-2.\
You may be requested to retrieve an IRS Verification of Non-filing from the IRS in addition to the documents above.
Income Information for Non-IRS Tax Filers
To verify income information, tax filers who filed an income tax return with a taxing authority in a U.S. territory (Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands) or commonwealth (Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands) or with a foreign central government, must submit a copy of a transcript of their tax information to the institution if a transcript is available at no charge from that jurisdiction’s taxing authority. A signed copy of the applicable income tax return that was filed with the taxing authority is only acceptable if tax filers are unable to obtain a free copy of a transcript of their tax information. Documentation will be required to prove there is a fee to access yours/your parent’s tax information from the tax authority.
If you filed a foreign return, convert all monetary units to U.S. dollars, using the published exchange rate in effect for the date nearest to today’s date. To view the daily exchange rates, go to federalreserve.gov/releases/h10/current.
Income Information for Non-IRS Non-tax Filers
Residents of the Freely Associated States (the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia), and a U.S. territory or commonwealth or a foreign central government who are not required to file an income tax return under that taxing authority’s rules must submit a copy of their Wage and Tax Statement (or equivalent documentation) for each source of employment income received for 2016 and a signed statement identifying all of the individual’s income and taxes for 2016.
October 1-- FAFSA is available as of October 1 every year. You should complete the FAFSA and submit your results to the Central Processor as quickly as you can to prevent delays in your aid.
For the 2022-23 Award Year, all documentation must be submitted by two weeks prior to September 1, 2023
For the 2023-24 Award Year, all documentation must be submitted by two weeks prior to September 2, 2024