The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the federal financial aid form that students complete to apply for all Federal Student Financial Aid. The U.S. Department of Education may select your FAFSA for review in a process called “Verification.” This process involves contacting the school you plan to attend or are attending in order to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. The Department of Education gives the school the authority to contact you for documentation that supports the information you reported.
Traditionally about 30% of FAFSA filers are selected for verification.
If you are selected for verification, the primary thing to do is stay calm.
- You are not being accused of doing anything wrong.
- Only certain data elements are required to be verified — not the entire FAFSA.
- Documents provided will be used to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate.
- You may be selected one year or multiple years.
How do I know if my FAFSA is selected for verification?
- View your Student Aid Report after your FAFSA has been processed. There will be a comment stating you have been selected for a process called Verification.
- Review all emails from the Student Financial Aid Office. Once our office is notified, we will e-mail the student letting them know what documentation is needed.
- Check your Financial Aid Required Documents page on The Hub.
What additional information is required?
Most students will need to provide:
- The completed Verification Worksheet. This document can be completed via an e-signature process or a paper process where the form will be sent via email to the students Carleton e-mail account.
- Verification of income for both student and parent(s).
For a very small number of students additional documentation may be required. Students will be contacted directly with instructions on the additional forms needed.
How can I provide verification of income?
If you (or your parent) filed taxes, you can use one of the following methods:
Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) when filling out the FAFSA. (Recommended). If you didn’t use it when you initially completed the FAFSA, we recommend you go to the FAFSA website and log in and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
- Request a Tax Transcript: Go to the IRS website transcript page. Click on “Get Transcript Online.” Once you get past the security setup, then request a “Tax Return Transcript” for the year we are currently needing.
- Signed Copy of Tax Return: If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) or cannot request a tax transcript, you can submit a signed copy of your tax return including all schedules.
- File an Amended (1040X) tax return: You will need to provide a signed copy of the amended tax form (1040X), as well as an IRS Tax Transcript. See the “Request a Tax Transcript” above for instructions.
- Foreign tax return: Provide signed and English translations of the foreign tax form for the year that falls over most of the US tax year requested. The US tax year is Jan-Dec. If your country’s tax year runs April–March, then the year covers April–Dec.
If you are having issues with any one of these items, contact our office at 507-222-4138 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional assistance.
If parents of dependent students or independent students didn’t file taxes, they will need to provide all the items listed below:
- Copies of W2 statements for the tax year.
- List of employers and how much was earned in the tax year. This can be done on page two of the verification worksheet.
- Request a Verification of Non-Filing letter from the IRS for the tax year. This letter must be dated on or after October 1 of the year the taxes were due. (Example: for 2019 taxes that were due in April of 2020 the letter must be dated Oct. 1, 2020 or later.) Or, request an IRS Tax Return Transcript or Tax Account Transcript it must indicate “no record of return filed” or “no transcript on file”. Or, provide a signed statement explaining that you attempted to obtain the Verification of Non-Filing letter and have not filed and are not required to file taxes for the year. Then submit the appropriate documents to our office.
How do I know what information is needed or if you have received the information I have provided?
Review the Financial Aid Required Documents section on The Hub for any additional items that may be needed. Please note: it can take a few business days for information to be processed and updated. During peak processing times, it could take up to a week for the information to be updated.
What if I have questions?
You can check the Verification FAQs, contact our office at 507-222-4138, or email your question to email@example.com. You may also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FEDAID if you have FAFSA questions.
When do I know verification is done?
If there are differences between your FAFSA and the documents provided, Carleton College is required to make corrections to your FAFSA. These are not uncommon. We recommend, upon notification that your FAFSA has been corrected, that you review the Student Aid Report to see what items have been corrected to aid you in completing the FAFSA in future years.
If you have any questions regarding the correction, please contact Student Financial Aid at 507-222-4138 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not change the FAFSA back to the previous information, as it will delay awarding or disbursing of your aid.