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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While there are several types of verification which may require different documents, the most common type requires the following forms:
We may request additional or alternative documentation based on the verification process for which you were selected.
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?”
You will need to submit a signed copy of the 1040X form and also the signed and dated 2015 original tax return.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or all other campuses at email@example.com.