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Financial Aid Verification

About 1 out of 4 FAFSA filers must provide additional information to verify the accuracy of their income, family size, and other FAFSA data.

Your customized Verfication Worksheet explains what data you need to submit, and is available via Blink [Student Services tab>Financial Aid channel on the left] (not the Financial Aid Requirements channel in the center)>under "Steps to apply for financial aid," choose the link for "your Verification Form."]

What is verification?

Verification ensures the accuracy of the information on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

If you're selected, you must complete the verification process to qualify for federal, state, or institutional need-based aid or federal loans.

How will I know I've been selected?

After submitting your FAFSA, you'll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education, which indicates if you're selected for verification. If you're selected, Bethel will send you a personalized Verification Form outlining the process.

What documents do I need to submit if I'm selected?

Documents will vary by student. Your Verification Form will indicate what you must verify, along with instructions for how to submit the information.

How do I verify my income?

If you filed a Federal Income Tax return, you have two options (do not send copies of tax returns):

  1. IRS Data Retrieval. This is the preferred method for verifying income.
    • How: You can access the IRS Data Retrieval Tool by logging in to fafsa.gov and following online instructions to "make a correction." The tool will load your information directly from the IRS. Do not change the IRS data. If you do, you will also be required to submit a federal Tax Return Transcript. 
    • When: You can use this tool approximately 3 weeks after submitting federal taxes electronically (8 weeks if sent by mail) and paying any tax obligation.
    • Who: Only tax filers can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If parents and students both filed taxes, then both must use the retrieval tool.
    • Circumstances that prevent you from using the retrieval tool:
      • Did not indicate on the FAFSA that the tax return has been completed
      • Married and filed the tax return either as (a) head of household or (b) married but filing a separate return
      • If dependent, neither parent entered a valid Social Security number on the FAFSA
      • Filed an amended federal return
      • Filed Puerto Rican or foreign tax return
      • Applicants whose marital status changed since January 1 of the processing year
  2. Federal Tax Return Transcript. If you cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you must request and submit a federal Tax Return Transcript.
    • Request a Tax Return Transcript online at www.irs.gov, by phone (800.908.9946), or by submitting IRS Form 4506-T. When submitting your online request, your street address must match the address in the IRS database. You can look up your address through the U.S. Post Office to ensure you use standard abbreviations and formatting. For example, street should be entered as "ST" not "street.
    • Submit your Tax Return Transcript to the Bethel University Office of Financial Aid. 

If you cannot use either of these methods, please document the issue you're experiencing and email Bethel's financial aid office so we can advise you.

Can I verify my income if I don't file a federal income tax return?

Non-tax filers who need to verify income should complete and submit the Verification Form received from Bethel. Be sure to include copies of prior-year W-2s, or a statement indicating why a W-2 was not received.

What happens if there are discrepancies in my FAFSA?

After all required documents are submitted, Bethel will compare them to your FAFSA. If we find errors, we'll make corrections and send them to the U.S. Department of Education for reprocessing.

When do I need to complete verification?

We recommend all families submit verification materials by July 1, prior to the start of fall term.

If you do not complete the verification process before the term of your enrollment has ended, you jeopardize receiving any federal aid for the term. Any delay in submitting all required documents will delay your financial aid, which may result in you being responsible for paying all or part of your bill until your financial aid disbursement takes place.

Individuals who have filed extensions, or who are self-employed and file their taxes later in the year, are not excused from the verification process. We recommend you file your federal income tax returns as soon as possible since a final financial aid award cannot be made until the verification process is completed.

If you are selected, you must complete the verification process to be eligible for federal, state, or institutional need-based aid or federal loans.

How long does a data correction take?

It takes 10 business days for the verification review process and an additional 10 business days if corrections are needed. More time may be necessary during peak periods (March through August).

Why is my information being verified?

The federal government or Bethel's Office of Financial Aid may select your application for verification at any time. The goal is to ensure you've provided accurate information so that you will be awarded the correct amount of aid.

While there are several reasons why a student may be selected for verification, some leading causes are:

  • Incomplete FAFSA
  • FAFSA data appears to contradict itself
  • FAFSA has estimated information on it
  • Random selection

What items are being verified?

You may be asked to provide documentation or clarification for one or more of the following items on your FAFSA (your personalized Verification Form will indicate exactly which of these items you will be required to verify):

  • Adjusted gross income
  • Taxes paid
  • Income earned from work (for non-tax filers)
  • Untaxed income items
  • Number of family members in the household
  • Number of family members enrolled in college (excluding parents for a dependent student)
  • Receipt of SNAP Benefit (Food Stamps)
  • Child support paid
  • High school completion
  • Identity
  • Any inconsistent or conflicting information (including name, date of birth, social security number, etc.)