Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

Federal Verification

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FAFSA and the Federal Verification process

Your FAFSA may be selected by the Department of Education for a process known as Federal Verification. This process requires Columbia to verify your family’s household and financial information with the Department of Education.

Required Documentation for Federal Verification

1. Federal Verification Worksheet

In order to verify your custodial parent(s)’ household information, you will need to submit a verification worksheet. Please read the instructions on the relevant worksheet carefully; incomplete worksheets will need further review and explanation.

2. Income Information

Each person who filed a 2015 US 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”, which should then be submitted to our office.

If you or your parent(s) were not required to file a 2015 Federal Tax Return, please see below.

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.

Please note that at this time the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable. You may still fill out and submit your FAFSA by manually entering your tax information. Please note that you should be using your 2015 income tax information.

IRS Tax Return Transcript

As an alternative to using the Data Retrieval Tool, a Tax Return Transcript may be requested directly from the IRS via mail or online.

  • For either the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or requesting a Tax Return Transcript, the information that you use to register (name, SSN, address) must exactly match what the IRS has on file for your family. It will be helpful to have your 2015 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.
  • If you are having trouble accessing the system, please contact the IRS directly.

IMPORTANT: Please review the services offered by each individual Taxpayer Assistance Center; not all services are offered at all locations. All Taxpayer Assistance Centers now operate by appointment only.

For Tax Non-Filers

  • For students and/or parents who did not file a 2015 tax return, you will need to provide a signed statement of any income received by either the non-filing student or non-filing parent in 2015, and include any W-2 statements for that income. This can be completed on the verification worksheet.

For families who filed an amended 2015 Tax Return (1040X)

  • The taxpayer who amended his or her return will need to provide a signed copy of the 2015 1040X form, along with a copy of the updated 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ form, along with a Tax Return Transcript.
    • The Tax Return Transcript will show the originally filed information with the IRS and will not update to the amended information.
    • Use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will not be sufficient documentation for the purposes of verification.

Related FAQs

What if I or my parent(s) filed an amended 2015 tax return (1040X)?

The taxpayer who amended his or her return will need to provide a signed copy of the 2015 1040X form, along with a copy of the updated 1040, 1040A, or 1040 EZ form, and a Tax Return Transcript. The Tax Return Transcript will show the originally filed information with the IRS and will not update to the amended information. Use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will not be sufficient documentation for the purposes of verification.

What if I or my parent(s) only filed a foreign tax return?

If you or your parent(s) only filed a foreign tax return for 2015, then you do not need to request additional information from the IRS. Please contact us to confirm which documents to submit.

What if I or my parent(s) are a victim of identity theft?

If you are a victim of identity theft, you will be unable to provide a Tax Return Transcript and will be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your information from the IRS to your FAFSA. You should submit instead a Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV), as well as a signed and dated statement indicating that you were victims of tax-related identity theft and that the IRS has been made aware of it. You can do this by calling the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at 800-908-4490.