Mercyhurst University

FAFSA Verification

About Verification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Verification is the confirmation through documentation that the information provided on a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is correct. The federal government requires colleges and universities to verify or confirm the data reported by students and their parent(s) on the FAFSA before financial aid can be awarded. This page lists some of the most commonly asked questions and answers regarding the verification process. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

FAFSA Verification

Why was I selected for verification?

How will I know if I am selected for verification?

What is the deadline to submit verification documents?

How long does the verification process take?

How will I be notified of the results of the verification process?

I am a returning student, why is there no financial aid on my account and/or why did I not receive an award letter?

What documents will I need to provide for the verification process?

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)?

I filed as “Married filing separately”. How do I verify my tax information since I cannot use the DRT?

I amended my taxes using the federal 1040X form. What documents do I need to submit?

How do I request a Tax Return Transcript?

I filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return. What documents are required for verification?

What if I have lost a W-2 form? 

What if I have requested a tax filing extension and still have not filed taxes?

Why did my financial aid change after the verification process was done?

What happens if I do not provide the information being requested?

What if I reviewed the frequently asked questions and did not see an answer to my question?

 

 

 

Why was I selected for verification?

Each year students and their families apply for financial aid by submitting a Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are various reasons why your FAFSA may have been selected for verification. The U.S. Department of Education does not share the model used to select FAFSAs for verification, but here are some red flags that are likely to lead to verification:

  • FAFSA includes incomplete data or data that appears to contradict itself
  • The IRS data retrieval tool was not used to download income tax data into the FAFSA
  • Taxes paid are inconsistent with an estimate based on the adjusted gross income and the number of exemptions claimed on the federal income tax return
  • FAFSA indicates that no tax return was filed, but income exceeds the IRS filing thresholds
  • Marital status as reported on the FAFSA is different from marital status reported on the federal income tax return
  • FAFSA reports zero income or income that’s too low to support the student (below the income protection allowance thresholds)
  • Household size on the FAFSA differs significantly from the number of exemptions claimed on the federal income tax return

How will I know if I am selected for verification?

Your Student Aid Report (SAR) will indicate you were selected. All selected Mercyhurst students will be sent a letter which details the documents required to complete verification.  An email will also be sent to your Mercyhurst Lakers email address informing you of your selection and what is needed.

 What is the deadline to submit verification documents?

You will have 30 days upon notification from Mercyhurst to submit your verification documents. If you cannot submit your documentation within that timeframe you will need to contact the Student Financial Services Office on your campus. Failure to return all required documentation in a timely manner can result in the delay of awarding or the loss of your financial aid.

 

How long does the verification process take?

Upon submission of all requested documents, it can take up to three weeks for your verification material to be reviewed. Once reviewed, you will be notified of any additional documentation needed. If nothing further is required, your information will be processed and your financial aid award will be completed. Students will receive notification via email that their verification has been complete. 

How will I be notified of the results of the verification process?

The student will receive an e-mail notification and a letter to their home address in regards to whether changes to FAFSA data elements were necessary. Also, the student will receive a revised award letter reflecting any changes to their award package, if a preliminary package has already been established.

I am a returning student, why is there no financial aid on my account and/or why did I not receive an award letter?

Typically, we begin awarding our returning students who have completed the FAFSA in mid-April. However, if you are selected for verification, you will not receive notification of your award until all required documentation is submitted and the verification process is complete.

What documents will I need to provide for the verification process?

While there are several types of verification which may require different documents, the most common type requires the following forms:

  • Verification Worksheet - Be sure to read the instructions carefully. If a mistake is made while filling out the form, cross it off and initial. Do not use white out on this form.
  • A copy of your and/or your parent(s) signed and dated 2015 IRS Tax Return.  NOTE:  If a copy of this is not available, a 2015 Tax return Transcript can be requested online athttps://www.irs.gov/Indivuals/Get-Transcript or by calling 1-800-908-9946.
  • All W-2 Forms for both the student and the parent(s) if non-tax filers.

We may request additional or alternative documentation based on the verification process for which you were selected. 

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (commonly referred to as DRT) is a function on the FAFSA that allows you to directly transfer your tax information from the IRS database into the FAFSA. The DRT can be used when completing the FAFSA or when updating the FAFSA after the IRS has processed your tax return. If the DRT was used successfully to transfer the tax information into the FAFSA, a tax return transcript will not be required.

News Update: Federal Student Aid (FSA) and the IRS announced today that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov will remain unavailable until “extra security precautions” can be added. The IRS DRT has been unavailable since early March. The announcement indicates that both FSA and the IRS are working to resolve the security issues, but that students and their families should “plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season.” You can continue filing the FAFSA as you normally would. The income information needed to complete the FAFSA can be found on your tax return. If you did not retain a copy of your tax return, you may be able to access the tax software you used to prepare your return or contact your tax preparer to obtain a copy. You can also request your 2015 tax transcript from the IRS by following the steps listed under “How do I request a Tax Return Transcript?

 

I filed as “Married filing separately”. How do I verify my tax information since I cannot use the DRT?

  • A copy of a signed and dated 2015 federal tax return is required for all tax filers.  Note: If a copy of this is not available, a 2015 Tax return Transcript can be requested online athttps://www.irs.gov/Indivuals/Get-Transcript or by calling 1-800-908-9946.
  • If “Married filing separately” but the spouse did not file, submit all W-2s for the non-filing spouse if the spouse worked at all in 2015. 

I amended my taxes using the federal 1040X form. What documents do I need to submit?

You will need to submit a signed copy of the 1040X form and also the signed and dated 2015 original tax return.

How do I request a Tax Return Transcript?

Visit www.irs.gov/transcript to view and download your tax return, called a tax return transcript, at Get Transcript Online. You must verify your identity to use this tool. You also may use Get Transcript by Mail or call 1-800-908-9946, and a transcript will be delivered to your address of record within five to 10 days.

To view “Get Transcript FAQs” go to https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript-faqs

 

I filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return. What documents are required for verification?

  • A copy of the tax return transcript equivalent which was filed with the taxing authority of that country.
  • Or a signed copy of the tax return filed with the taxing authority only if the tax filer cannot obtain a free copy of a tax transcript from the taxing authority.

What if I have lost a W-2 form? 

If you are missing a W-2, contact your employer for a replacement copy.

In some instances such as self-employment, you may not receive a W-2 for earnings reportable on the tax return. In such circumstances, you must include a written description of the amount and source of income with your verification material and include any supporting documentation you may have regarding this income.

What if I have requested a tax filing extension and still have not filed taxes?

If you or your parents have filed for an extension, you will need to provide a copy of the completed federal 4868 extension form along with your W-2 forms. If you are self-employed and have no W-2 forms then please provide a statement of your yearly earnings and projected tax liability.

Why did my financial aid change after the verification process was done?

Mercyhurst University is required to correct any conflicting information found during the verification process. If the corrections impact the student’s financial aid eligibility, the student’s financial aid awards must be adjusted accordingly.

What happens if I do not provide the information being requested?

If a student/family does not provide the verification materials, the verification is incomplete.  Mercyhurst would be unable to award federal and institutional aid until verification is completed.

What if I reviewed the frequently asked questions and did not see an answer to my question?

If you do not find the answers to your questions, please feel free to contact Student Financial Services at Mercyhurst Main
(814)824-2288 or the Mercyhurst North East office at 814-725-6265. You can also submit question via email the Student Financial Services Office.  Email Mercyhurst main campus at sfs@mercyhurst.edu or all other campuses at nesfs@mercyhurst.edu