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 requested directly from the IRS via mail or online.
- Go to http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript.
- Select “Get Transcript By Mail" to have the hard copy document sent to the home address on file with the IRS.
- 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.
- Other options, such as “Account Transcript” or “Wage & Income Transcript,” will not satisfy the document requirements for Federal Verification.
- Select "Return Transcript".
- You may need to allow pop-ups from www.irs.gov in order to download the PDF files.
- The IRS has relaunched its Get Transcript Online tool, which is available at www.irs.gov under the “Tools” tab by clicking “Get a tax transcript” and then “Get Transcript Online.”
- The Get Transcript Online tool allows the user to immediately receive an online PDF version of their IRS Tax Return Transcript or, if appropriate, a verification of non-filing.
- The Get Transcript Online tool uses a new enhanced two-step, multi-factor authentication process that requires the user to register before submitting a transcript request.
- The user must have (1) access to a valid email address, (2) a text-enabled mobile phone (pay-as-you-go plans cannot be used) in the user’s name, and (3) specific financial account numbers (such as a credit card number or an account number for a home mortgage or auto loan).
- Note that the IRS Get Transcript Online registration process will not result in any charges to the card or to the financial account.
- Once you have received 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.
- A tax filer may also obtain a tax return transcript by electronically submitting a transcript request using the IRS Get Transcript by Mail option at http://www.irs.gov, by submitting a paper Form 4506T-EZ or 4506-T, or by calling 1-800-908-9946. These request methods will result in the IRS mailing a paper transcript to the address on file with the IRS. Unless the tax filer has formally changed their address with the IRS (through the IRS change of address processes), the address on file with the IRS is the one used on the individual’s last filed tax return.
IMPORTANT: The IRS does not accept requests for transcripts at its Taxpayer Assistance Centers.
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.