FAFSA and the Federal Verification process
Your FAFSA may be selected by the Federal Department of Education for a process known as Federal Verification. This process requires Columbia to verify your family’s information with the Department of Education.
Required Documents for Federal Verification
1. Verify your Tax Information. Each person who filed a Federal Tax Return must confirm her or his taxable income either by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or by requesting from the IRS a “Tax Return Transcript” or a “Record of Account Transcript,” which should then be submitted to our office. If you or your parent(s) were not required to file a Federal Tax Return or only filed a foreign tax return, then you do not need to do this step.
- IRS Data Retrieval Tool: The easiest and most accurate way to access and verify your tax information is to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows you to electronically transfer your information from the IRS to the FAFSA.
- IRS Tax Return Transcript: As an alternative to the Data Retrieval Tool, a Tax Return Transcript may be accessed directly from the IRS by the family. PLEASE NOTE: This process may take several minutes to complete.
- Go to http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript. You (the taxpayer) must sign up to create or reactivate an IRS online account; you will receive an email confirmation code.
- The information that you enter (name, SSN, address) must exactly match what the IRS has on file for your family. It will be helpful to have your most current tax return on hand to insure that the information will match.
- Select “Federal Tax” and make sure to specifically request a “Tax Return Transcript” or “Record of Account Transcript.”
- If you filed a 1040X Amended Tax return, you will need to request the “Record of Account Transcript.”
- Other options (“Account Transcript” or “Wage & Income Transcript”) will not satisfy the document requirements for Federal Verification.
- You may need to allow pop-ups from www.irs.gov in order to download the PDF files.
- PLEASE NOTE: If you are unable to access the Tax Transcript via the online process, please select “Get Transcript By Mail” to have the hard copy document sent to the home address on file with the IRS.
- Once you have accessed the Tax Return Transcript, you should FAX it to our office at 212-854-5353. Please label all information with the student’s full name and Columbia ID#. For security purposes, we do not recommend emailing confidential financial information.
2. Submit the Federal Verification Worksheet.
- You should only include your custodial parent’s household information on the Verification Worksheet
- Parents should not be included in the number enrolled in college, even if they are enrolled at least half-time
- Child Support Paid refers only to those child support payments made by the custodial parent to another parent, not to any child support payments made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.