2012-2013 Financial Aid Verification and Tax Return Transcripts

IRS Tax Return Transcript. Photo courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service.

Each year the Department of Education randomly selects roughly a third of our financial aid applicants for verification. Verification is a review process wherein our Financial Aid Office collects additional documentation to confirm the information you reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students selected for verification will receive a notification letter from the the College of Saint Rose Financial Aid Office that specifies the documents you must submit, including, but not necessarily limited to, our Verification Worksheet, copies of your W2’s and, new this year, a Tax Return Transcript from the Internal Revenue Service.

Effective for the 2012-2013 aid year, the financial aid office is no longer able to accept copies of your Federal tax returns to satisfy verification requirements.  Consequently, unless you use the IRS Tax Data Retrieval Tool* when filing the 2012 – 2013 FAFSA, you will have to request a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS if you are selected for verification.  A Tax Return Transcript shows most of the line items from your tax return (1040, 1040A or 1040 EZ) as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms or schedules.  Tax Return Transcripts are available free of charge.

Remember that even if you did not initially use the Data Retrieval Tool when you filed the FAFSA, perhaps because you hadn’t yet filed your tax return when you filed the FAFSA, you may be able to use the Data Retrieval Tool* now by logging back in to your FAFSA to make corrections.  By using the Data Retrieval Tool, you can avoid having to request a tax transcript in the event that you are selected for verification.  We recommend that you try to use the Data Retrieval Tool first if selected for verification.   Unfortunately, not all financial aid applicants can use the Data Retrieval Tool.  For example, when the parents of a dependent student file separate returns, the family would not be able to use the Data Retrieval Tool.  So, for a variety of reasons, some students and their families who are selected for verification will have to request a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS.  There are 3 ways to order the transcript.

  1. Online Request.  Go to the Internal Revenue Service website.  Click on “Order a Transcript”.  Be sure to order a Tax Return Transcript as opposed to a Tax Account Transcript.  The Tax Return Transcript provides a more comprehensive summary of your return data.
  2. Telephone Request.  You can call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946.
  3. Paper Request.  Download the IRS Form 4506T-EZ.  Mail or fax the form to the appropriate address or FAX number as provided on the second page of the Form 4506T-EZ.

The IRS website suggests that applicants can expect to receive a Tax Return Transcript within 5 to 10 days of the receipt of your request.  However, given the high volume of requests for transcripts right now from students selected for verification at colleges and universities across the country, it is reasonable to expect delays.  Again, it’s best to use the Data Retrieval Tool if possible, but if you must request a tax transcript, you should act promptly.  If you file a Tax Transcript request online or by telephone it must be mailed to the address listed on your tax return.  If you file the Form 4506T-EZ, you do have the option to mail the transcript to a third-party.  We prefer that you do not send the transcript to us apart from the rest of your verification materials (W2’s, Verification Worksheet).  Please have your tax transcript mailed directly to you and then send all your verification materials to the Saint Rose Financial Aid Office.

If you have any questions about requesting Tax Return Transcripts or the verification process, drop us a line at the Student Solution Center.  We’re here to help!  Note to self: I need to get that on a t-shirt . . .

* We wish to thank the staff at the University of California at Santa Barbara for sharing the above-linked Data Retrieval Tutorial with the financial aid community.

 

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