Financial Aid Verification Process
Each year, students and their families apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some applicants are asked to provide supporting documents to verify the information on the FAFSA through a process called "verification." The supporting documentation is used by the Financial Aid Office to ensure certain information provided on the FAFSA is accurate. The law requires the Financial Aid Office to ask you for this information before awarding federal aid under the financial aid program rules 34CFR, Part 668. Because this information is used to determine need-based aid, reporting this information accurately is crucial.
If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you are required to go through the verification process if you wish to receive federal, state and/or certain types of institutional financial aid.
How will the FAO notify me if my FAFSA is selected for verification?
The manner in which you are notified is determined by your student status:
New, first-time students receive a letter mailed to their home as well as an email notification listing the documents needed. New students may also receive an initial financial aid award letter which indicates the FAFSA was selected for verification with a statement printed directly on the award letter, as well as a special notice inserted with the award letter documents.
Returning students receive an email notification sent to their BW email address listing the documents needed. Returning students will not receive a financial aid award letter until the verification process has been completed.
Who determines which students are selected for verification?
The U.S. Department of Education selects some applications because certain information appears inconsistent while others are selected at random. The FAO also has an obligation to select an applicant for verification if data appears incorrect.
For academic years 2011-2012 and earlier, 33 percent of all students who filed a FAFSA nationwide were selected. Starting with the 2012-2013 academic year, the U.S. Department of Education has reduced the amount of information needed to complete the verification process for all students, instead using a "targeted selection of items based upon each student's characteristics."
There are various reasons why a FAFSA is selected for verification, such as the FAFSA included estimates of federal income tax information and the actual information now needs to be confirmed. Or, the FAFSA was submitted with data that appears inconsistent or unusual, or includes a type of information that is frequently misreported.
What should I do if selected?
You must provide the FAO with the required documentation to show that the FAFSA information is accurate. Respond to the request as soon as possible and make sure you read the email or letter carefully so you know exactly what is needed from you or your family.
What will happen if I don't submit the required verification documents?
If you are a new BW student, we will send you an initial financial aid award letter even though you have not completed verification. However, financial aid cannot be released to your BW student account until verification of your FAFSA is complete. Merit scholarships and other awards that are not based on financial information can be released. If you are a returning BW student, you will not receive a financial aid award until verification of your FAFSA has been completed.
Can my financial aid change as a result of verification?
New students receive an initial financial aid award that is based on information provided on the FAFSA before verification is completed. Federal programs such as the Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG Grant, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Work-Study and Federal Direct Loans have strict eligibility requirements and may be affected if the information reported on the FAFSA is incorrect. The Ohio College Opportunity Grant and BW Grant also are dependent on FAFSA information, so these may be adjusted accordingly as well.
What if the information on my FAFSA is wrong? Do I need to change it?
If the verification information you provide does not match the information you provided on your FAFSA, the FAO will make corrections to your FAFSA on your behalf.
How will I know when verification of my FAFSA has been completed?
When verification of your FAFSA is complete, you will be notified in one of the following ways:
You will receive your first award letter of the academic year.
You will receive a revised award letter.
You will receive other communication from our staff.
What documentation is needed to complete the verification process?
All students who are selected for verification must submit the Verification Worksheet for the appropriate academic year.
Additional required documentation may include:
Note: Documentation is year-specific, so be sure to use the form for the correct academic year.
Copy of W2 form(s) from each source of employment, for the student, spouse (if applicable), and parent(s)/step parent(s) of dependent students. Submit 2013 W2s for the 2014-15 academic year or 2014 W2s for the 2015-16 academic year.
Official tax return transcript from the IRS – Click to download a FREE copy from the IRS website.
I can't download my tax return transcript. Is there a way to simplify this process?
Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for both student and parents of dependent students. It takes three-to-six weeks after filing your Federal tax returns before your information is available to import via the IRS Data Retrieval option. The FAO strongly recommends that returning students and families file their Federal Tax Return with the IRS as soon as possible, and then submit the FAFSA online at least two weeks later.
Is everyone eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within the FAFSA?
Under certain conditions, some applicants will not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval option and will be required to submit an official tax transcript from the IRS to the FAO. These conditions are:
when the student (or parent/step parent of dependent students) did not use the IRS Data Retrieval option when filing the initial FAFSA or through the FAFSA on the web correction process;
when student, spouse (if applicable) and/or parent/step parent(s) of dependent students' information imported into the student's FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval option was subsequently changed;
when the parents of a dependent student filed separate tax returns. (An official tax transcript from the IRS will be required for each parent/step parent);
when a married student and his or her spouse filed separate tax returns. (An official tax transcript from the IRS will be required for both the student and his or her spouse);
when the student, spouse (if applicable) or parent/step parent(s) filed an amended tax return;
when the student or parent/step parent(s) of dependent students had a change in marital status after the end of the tax year; and
when the student, spouse (if applicable) and/or parent/step parent(s) of dependent students filed a foreign tax return.
What if the semester billing deadline passes before verification can be completed?
The amount of time needed to complete the verification process varies from student to student. The FAO will not be responsible for any finance charges the Bursar's Office may assess if your financial aid cannot be released due to an unverified FAFSA. We strongly recommend that you complete the verification process as soon as possible!
What can I do to make sure the verification information I provide is accurate and complete?
Carefully read the notification you received from the FAO and the verification worksheet. When completing the worksheet, respond to every question. Do not leave anything blank. If the correct answer is zero, write a zero.
Submit every document requested. Make sure the FAO can identify the student to whom the documents belong by including the student name and the BW Student ID or SSN at the top of each page.
Do not submit unrequested documents. Do not submit tax worksheets or tax year comparison reports. Also, do not submit state tax returns.
Keep your originals – send copies to the FAO.
If you are required to submit a copy of your taxes, be sure to submit the tax return transcript from the IRS, not the tax account transcript.
Respond promptly to all requests for information, including the initial request and any follow-up requests due to missing or incomplete information.