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
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.
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: The IRS does not accept requests for Transcripts at its Taxpayer Assistance Centers.
For Tax Non-Filers
- For students and/or parents who did not file a 2015 tax return, you will be required to submit a Verification of Non-Filing Letter, dated after October 1, 2016, which you must request from the IRS.
- The non-filer will request the Verification of Non-Filing Letter from the IRS using the same process to request a Tax Return Transcript.
- You can either request this document online or via mail using Form 4506-T.
- In addition, 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.