What is federal verification?
Based on information you provide on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may be selected for a process called federal verification. This is a process that essentially checks to make sure that what you entered on your FAFSA is correct. If you are selected, Student Financial Services (SFS) will require additional information from you through your SIS To Do List. As verification is a requirement of the United States Department of Education, you will not receive an official financial aid award until all required To Do List items have been completed and your application has been verified. Verification is an annual process, so you may be selected in multiple years during your career at UVA.
With the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government, please refer to a recent release from NASFAA regarding obtaining tax documents to satisfy verification requirements.
How will I know that I’ve been selected for verification?
If your application has been federally selected for verification, your Student Aid Report (SAR) from FAFSA will include a note indicating so. Also, SFS will send an email notification to every student selected for verification.
SFS will put items related to verification on your SIS To Do List. Click the link in your To Do List for more information about each item.
What is the deadline for completing verification?
SFS recommends that you submit verification documents as soon as possible upon being notified of your selection.
Verification is complete when we have reviewed all required documentation and ensured that the data in your financial aid application is accurate based on what you sent in. In general, this review process must be completed by the last day of your enrollment during the school year for which your application has been selected for verification, unless you meet certain federal criteria to be considered for late disbursements. Once verification is complete, federal rules prohibit us from making certain further changes to your financial aid award.
What happens if I do not complete verification?
If you choose not to or fail to submit verification documents, we will be unable to complete the review of your eligibility for federal financial aid and you will not receive a financial aid award..
In rare cases, a student who has already been awarded federal financial aid may be selected for verification after financial aid has disbursed. In the event that this happens, items will be added to your To Do List in SIS and you will be required to complete them. Failure to complete the To Do List items and comply with the verification requirements will result in your aid being cancelled and any future aid not disbursing. Any financial aid already disbursed against your charges will also be cancelled which may result in a balance on your student account.
If you are selected for federal verification but do not wish to complete the process and want to cancel your aid application, you should alert Student Financial Services by submitting the Financial Aid Application Cancellation Request for the appropriate academic year.
How will verification impact my eligibility and awards?
Performing verification sometimes requires us to make corrections or updates to the data that you reported on your application. If SFS makes corrections to your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), sometimes as early as the summer before the academic year starts.
Corrections to the data within the application may result in changes to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). SFS will use the EFC from your verified application to determine your official financial aid award.
If you were not originally selected for verification but you make changes to your FAFSA at any point during the year, or if SFS makes corrections during the application review process, your application could then become selected. In these cases, items will be added to your To Do List in SIS and you will be required to complete them. Failure to complete the To Do List items and comply with the verification requirements will result in your aid being cancelled and any future aid not disbursing. Any financial aid already disbursed against your charges will also be cancelled which may result in a balance on your student account.
Information Required to be Verified
In most cases, students selected for verification must provide documentation to verify tax data. We encourage parents and students to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to satisfy this requirement. The Department of Education's website provides extensive information about using the DRT. It is important to note that if you use the DRT, all tax data will be masked for your security and protection. You will no longer be able to view or update tax information verified by the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If required, the University can update your FAFSA with any valid corrections. If you have questions, please contact us rather than attempting make changes on your own, as your changes could prompt additional requirements from the Department of Education to complete verification.
IRS Tax Return Transcript
In some cases, you may be required to submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript. This may be required even if you have submitted your complete tax return to Student Financial Services. If you are notified of the need for this document, there are three ways you can request it from the IRS. None of these methods requires the payment of a fee.
- Online - Go to https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript to request an IRS tax return transcript. The transcript will be available to view, print, or download on line. While the transcript is free, to use this service you will be required to register, which includes providing confidential information such as a credit card number. If you provide a credit card number, please be aware that it will not be used to charge your account, but simply to verify your identity, to ensure that your private information is being transmitted to you, rather than to someone posing as you.
- Telephone - Call (800) 908-9946. A paper transcript will be mailed to the requestor within 5 to 10 days. Please upload this document through your SIS Student Center To Do List. Transcripts will be sent to the address on your latest tax return, so this option may not work well for individuals who have moved since filing their most recent return.
- IRS Form 4506-T A paper transcript will be mailed to the requestor within 5 to 10 days. Please upload this document through your SIS Student Center To Do List. As noted above, requests will be sent to the address on your latest tax return; so this option may not work well for individuals who have moved since filing their most recent return.
Verification for Individuals with Special Tax Situations
Individuals Who Filed an Amended IRS Income Tax Return
If an individual filed an amended IRS income tax return for tax year 2016, provide both of the following:
- An IRS Tax Return Transcript (which will include information from the original tax return only), or any other IRS tax transcript(s) that include all of the income and tax information required to be verified; and
- A signed and dated copy of the 2016 IRS Form 1040X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” that was filed with the IRS.
Individuals Who Did Not File and Were Not Required to File an IRS Income Tax Return
If an individual did not and was not required to file an income tax return for tax year 2016, provide the following:
- A statement indicating that the individual did not file and was not required to file a 2016 income tax return, as well as the sources and amounts of income earned from work in 2016. The UVA Parent and Student Non-Tax Filer forms can be found in the Forms section for the relevant academic year.
- A copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2016 and, if IRS Form W-2 was not received for 2016 or if self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the individual’s income for tax year 2016. The UVA Substitute Parent W-2 Form and the Student Substitute W-2 Form can both be found in the Forms section of the SFS website for the relevant academic year.
- Parents and Independent students will also be required to submit an IRS Verifictaion of Non-Filing Letter. As noted above in the IRS Tax Transcript section, this letter can be ordered from the IRS online, by telephone, or by submitting IRS Form 4506-T.
Individuals Who Were Victims of IRS Identity Theft
A victim of IRS identity theft who has been unable to obtain a 2016 IRS Tax Return Transcript or use the IRS DRT must provide both of the following:
- A Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV) transcript obtained from the IRS. Tax filers may inform the IRS of the tax-related identity theft and obtain a TRDBV transcript by calling the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at 1–800–908–4490. Tax filers who cannot obtain a TRDBV transcript may instead submit another official IRS transcript or equivalent document provided by the IRS if it includes all of the income and tax information required to be verified; and
- A statement signed and dated by the tax filer indicating that he or 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 Non-IRS Income Tax Returns and Non-IRS Non-Tax Filers
If an individual filed or will file an income tax return with a foreign country, provide a copy of a completed 2016 foreign tax transcript provided that it can be obtained at no cost from the relevant taxing authority. If the tax cycle of the foreign country is not the 2016 calendar year, please provide a copy of the tax transcript from the tax cycle that includes the greatest number of months from within the 2016 calendar year.
A tax filer who filed an income tax return with a foreign tax authority and who is unable to obtain the tax account information free of charge, must provide:
- Documentation that the tax authority charges a fee to obtain that information, and
- A signed copy of his or her income tax return that was filed with the relevant tax authority.
If you filed taxes in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, submit a signed copy of your income tax return.
If you filed taxes in American Samoa, submit a copy of your Tax Account Information.
Individuals Granted a Filing Extension by the IRS
If an individual is required to file a 2015 IRS income tax return and has been granted a filing extension by the IRS, provide 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 tax year 2015;
- A copy of the IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter for 2016;
- A copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2016 and, if IRS Form W-2 was not received for 2016 or if self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the individual’s AGI and the U.S. income tax paid for tax year 2016; and
- If an additional extension beyond the automatic six-month extension was approved by the IRS, a copy of the IRS additional extension approval for the tax year 2016.
Other Requests for Additional Documentation
In addition to federal verification, you may be asked by Student Financial Services to provide additional documentation to help us determine your eligibility for state and institutional need-based funds. In such cases, To Do List items are placed in your SIS Student Center, and an email message is sent to you alerting you to the new To Do List item. As is the case with federal verification, we will not be able to complete your official financial aid award until all To Do List items have been completed.
As mentioned above, if you make changes to your FAFSA after your financial aid award is complete, you may still be selected for verification. In these cases, items will be added to your To Do List in SIS and you will be required to complete them. Most commonly, this will happen during the Fall term, but failure to complete the To Do List items will result in your Spring term aid not disbursing.
Student Financial Services conducts internal audits of financial aid awards throughout the academic year. These audits could result in a student being asked for additional documents and changes to a student's financial aid award. In the rare cases when there are changes, they are usually relatively small.