What is Verification?
Verification is a process in which information on a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is reviewed by the College for accuracy. If an applicant is selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, or by Charter Oak, additional documentation will be required to validate data reported on the FAFSA.
Copies of signed federal tax returns are no longer accepted by the Office of Financial Aid except under a number of limited circumstances (for use in professional judgment reviews, to confirm rollovers, or to confirm taxable scholarship amounts).
Applicants are asked not to submit tax information unless requested by the Office of Financial Aid.
IRS Data Retrieval Tool through FAFSA on the Web
The Office of Financial Aid requires that all applicants complete or correct FAFSA data using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This process allows users to link to the IRS Web site and securely transfer original IRS tax information to their FAFSA.
- Applicants who have already filed a FAFSA, and wish to update their tax information, can also use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool by logging in as a returning user to start their correction. Once in FAFSA, the applicant must navigate to the "Finances" section of the application where there is an option to use the IRS DRT.
In most cases, FAFSA applicants who use the IRS Data Retrieval process to transfer IRS data to their FAFSA will have met the verification requirements for IRS data specific items. This means they will not need to provide an IRS Tax Return Transcript to the Office of Financial Aid as long as IRS data was not subsequently changed.
Certain categories of FAFSA applicants will not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. These include applicants who:
- filed a foreign tax return (including a tax return from Puerto Rico)
- filed an amended tax return
- are married and filed as Married Filing Separately
- are married and filed as Head of Household
- recent tax filers (taxes filed electronically within the last two weeks of FAFSA filing ,taxes filed by mail within the last eight weeks of FAFSA filing)
- had a change in marital status after December 31st of the tax year
*Applicants who are are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool are required to order their Tax Return Transcript from the IRS.
How to Order a Tax Return Transcript
IRS Tax Return Transcripts are available by accessing the Get Transcript Online portal. Transcripts can be ordered online or through the mail. Availability of transcripts are dependent on a number of factors including the method used to file, whether a refund or balance is owed, and when the tax return was filed.
Who is Required to Provide an IRS Tax Transcripts?
Applicants who are selected for verification and either cannot use, or elect not to use, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) are required to provide IRS Tax Return Transcripts to the Office of Financial Aid.
Amended Tax Returns
Applicants who change IRS data (by filing an amended tax return) must provide the following tax information to the Office of Financial Aid:
- An IRS Tax Return Transcript (even if the DRT was previously used) or any other IRS tax transcript that includes all income and tax information from the original return; and
- a signed copy of Form 1040X that was filed with the IRS. Please note that amending a tax return is a two part process. The first step is to prepare a new tax return using Form 1040. The next step is to report the amended tax information on Form 1040 to the appropriate line item on Form 1040X. Please note that the Office of Financial Aid will request a copy of both the 1040X and corrected Form 1040.
Tax Filing Extensions
Applicants who have been granted a tax filing extension by the IRS must provide the following tax information to the Office of Financial Aid:
- A copy of 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; and
- A copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2015; and
- If self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the individual’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and the U.S. income tax paid for tax year 2015.
- For applicants who have requested an additional extension of filing time beyond the automatic six-month extension, a copy of the IRS's approval of extension will be required.
* Please note that it is the policy of the College to require those with a filing extension to use the IRS DRT or to submit a tax transcript after the return has been filed so that tax information can be verified by the Office of Financial Aid. Please note that this may change the dollar amounts of grants and/or loan amounts that were originally awarded.
Victims of Identity Theft
Victims of identity theft who are unable to get a tax return transcript are required to submit a Transcript DataBase View (TRDBV) from the IRS. Additionally students must provide to the Office of Financial Aid a signed and dated statement indicating that they were victims of tax related identity theft and that the IRS has been made aware of it. Students who are victims of IRS identity theft can contact the IRS's Identity Protection Specialized Unit by calling (800) 908-4490. After the unit authenticates the tax filers identity, the student can request the IRS TRDBV transcript.
Additional Requests for Information
Certain types of untaxed income (child support, worker's compensation, disability) are not reflected in IRS data. Therefore, additional documentation may be requested by the Office of Financial Aid for verification of untaxed income. This may include, but is not limited to, collection of W-2 forms for non-filers who indicate they have income from work, child support payments received, and payments made to tax-deferred pension and savings plans.
Child support payments made in 2015 are subject to verification.
Benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) received in 2014 or 2015 are subject to verification.
The Office of Financial Aid is also responsible for resolving information that it believes to be discrepant or inaccurate and may request supporting documentation to clear data conflicts.
*If conflicting information is discovered after disbursing aid, the College is required to reconcile the differences and recalculate the student's EFC. If there is an over award, the student will be required to repay any excess funds. If a student is no longer enrolled, they will owe a Title IV overpayment and the College will notify the U.S. Department of Education of the over payment.