Verification is a process in which information on a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is reviewed for accuracy and helps the College to accurately and fairly determine the types and amounts of financial aid that a student is eligible to receive.
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 which includes income tax information. Please note that the Office of Financial Aid has the legal authority to request additional information and documentation to authenticate information reported on the FAFSA.
Students and parents are asked not to submit tax information or other documentation unless notified by the Office of Financial Aid to do so.
Important Information about the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for Tax Filers
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) is currently not available for FAFSA applicants to prefill the answers to tax related questions by transferring data directly from their tax returns. The data retrieval tool is expected to be offline during the remainder of the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 FAFSA processing season. The unavailability of the IRS DRT does not limit an individuals ability to apply for aid. Students and parents can manually enter 2015 tax information when completing a FAFSA application for either the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 award year.
Tax filers are advised to always retain a copy of their tax return and keep it in a secure place. If a copy of a return was not kept, there are several options to obtain tax data:
1. Students and parents can access the tax software product used to prepare and file their 2015 IRS income tax return. In most cases, the software allows the tax filer to download and print a copy of the tax return.
2. If a tax professional was used, students and parents can contact the preparer to request a copy of their 2015 IRS income tax return.
3. 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.
*For IRS tax filers who are selected for verification, in lieu of obtaining an IRS tax return transcript, a signed copy of the 2015 IRS tax return will be accepted to validate income and tax data. This applies to both the 2016-2017 AND 2017-2018 award years. *If the College has any reason to doubt the authenticity of a tax return, a tax return transcript will be requested by 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:
- For award year 2016-2017 an 2017-2018, an IRS Tax Return Transcript or a signed copy of the original IRS tax transcript; 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 submit a tax transcript or a signed copy of IRS tax return after it 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 tax related identity theft who are unable to get a tax return transcript are required to submit a Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV) transcript 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.
Applicants who are non-tax filers must provide the following information to the Office of Financial Aid:
- Copies of IRS W-2 Forms for each source of income from work; and
- IRS verification on Non-Filing
Additional documentation may also be requested by the Office of Financial Aid to verify all sources of untaxed income such as: child support received, worker's compensation, disability, and money paid or received on a parent's or student's behalf.
Additional Requests for Information
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, child support payments received, payments made to tax-deferred pension and savings plans, and receipt of benefits from social services programs.
The Office of Financial Aid is 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.