FAFSA Verification

All students who file a FAFSA are sent a Student Aid Report (SAR) which will indicate if their FAFSA was selected for verification. The Financial Aid Office will also contact the student to make sure they are aware of any outstanding requirements. Need-based financial aid cannot be processed until verification is complete. To receive maximum consideration for federal and state aid programs such as grants and loans, students must complete verification (if selected) before classes begin.

Verification is a quality-assurance measure used by the U.S. Dept. of Education to verify the accuracy of information reported by students and families on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All schools that disburse federal Title IV funds (federal student aid) are required to participate in the verification process. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, the Financial Aid Office will provide you with detailed instructions regarding any information that is needed to verify the results of your application for aid.

Most often, a FAFSA is selected for verification because it contains inconsistent information or the Dept. of Education has identified errors that must be corrected. However, files can also be selected for review due to:

  1. Incomplete information (fields left blank)
  2. Estimated information
  3. Severe changes in data elements from year to year
  4. Selected at random

Schools may also choose to verify a file if presented with conflicting information. Making unnecessary adjustments to FAFSA data after initial submission may increase the likelihood of being selected for verification.

Regardless of why a FAFSA is selected, no need-based financial aid can be paid to the student until the verification process is complete.

Verification requirements will vary depending on the information identified as inaccurate or inconsistent. However, most applicants selected for verification must provide the following:

  1. A complete and signed verification worksheet; and
  2. Confirmed federal income tax data (tax filers only)

However, some applicants will be selected based on specific data elements and may only need to submit documentation of:

  • Identity
  • Receipt of high school diploma or equivalent

Students can review their specific verification requirements on Murphy Online. To review requirements, students must log in to Murphy Online and:

  1. Select Financial Aid
  2. Select View My Student Requirements
  3. Select the appropriate aid year from the drop-down menu

Required verification forms can be accessed through Murphy Online.

Verification worksheets can also be downloaded from our Publications and Forms page.

Students who are required to verify the following must bring applicable documentation to the Financial Aid Office or contact a financial aid staff member if they are not able to present the documentation in-person:

  • Identity and educational purpose
  • Receipt of a high school diploma or equivalent

Schools are not allowed to use copies of federal tax returns to verify FAFSA information. Please do not send a copy of your federal tax return unless you are specifically instructed to do so by a financial aid staff member.

1. IRS Data Retrieval (preferred method)

To transfer tax information to the FAFSA, the student and/or parent must log in to the student's processed FAFSA and select "Make FAFSA Corrections". Once inside the FAFSA, navigate to the "Financial Information" section and answer the questions to determine if you are eligible to use IRS Data Retrieval. If eligible, enter your FSA ID (or apply for one) and click the blue "LINK TO IRS" button. You will be asked to input your tax filing status and address to verify your identity. Please input your address exactly as it appears on your filed federal tax return.

Once your identity is confirmed, you will have the opportunity to review the tax data being transferred. Do not change any of these data elements. Select "Transfer Now" and follow the on-screen instructions to sign and submit the FAFSA correction. The Financial Aid Office will receive this update within two business days which will satisfy this requirement.

Taxpayers will not be able to use IRS Data Retrieval if during the 2016 tax year:

  • You were married but filed taxes as "head of household"
  • Your filing status was "married filing separately"
  • You filed a foreign tax return
  • You filed an amended tax return (Form 1040X)

2. Request a 2016 Tax Return Transcript from the IRS:

A tax return transcript is an official record of the information on your filed federal tax return and is acceptable for verification purposes. Transcripts can be requested online at www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript or by calling 1-800-908-9946.

Tax transcripts must be requested using the name, date of birth, and Social Security Number of the primary taxpayer. The primary taxpayer is the taxpayer whose name is listed first on the federal tax return.

Taxpayers may be able to access a transcript immediately if they set up an online account with the IRS to confirm their identity. Otherwise, transcripts must be mailed and will take at least 10 days to reach the taxpayer's address.

Taxpayers who filed an amended tax return (Form 1040X) are not eligible to use IRS Data Retrieval to transfer confirmed tax data onto the FAFSA.

To complete the verification process, the student and/or parent who amended their tax return must provide:

  1. A photocopy of the filed amended federal tax return (Form 1040X); and
  2. A copy of their tax return transcript which shows the tax data initially filed with the IRS before any amendment was made.

Any taxpayer may request a tax transcript online or by calling 1-800-908-9946.

Victims of federal tax-related identity theft must provide a statement signed and dated by the tax filer, which confirms he or she was a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS is aware of the tax-related identity theft. They must also provide a Tax Return Database View (TRDBV) transcript which is obtained by contacting the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at 1-800-908-4490.