Financial Aid Verification

Verification is the process schools use to ensure the accuracy of the information reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). About 1 in every 4 FAFSA filers is selected by the Department of Education to document their income, family size and other FAFSA data.

Your customized Verification Worksheet explains what data you need to submit, and is available under Financial Aid Requirements in your MyBethel checklist.

Beginning with the 2024-2025 award year, the IRS Data Retrieval process is being replaced with the Direct Data Exchange (DDX) process. Everyone who is required to provide a signature on the FAFSA form will need to provide consent and approval to have their federal tax information (FTI) transferred from the IRS directly into the FAFSA form.

How will I know I've been selected?

After submitting your FAFSA, you'll receive a FAFSA Submission Summary 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 and by academic year. Your Verification Form will indicate what you must verify, along with instructions for how to submit the information. The Department of Education can adjust or add to the items they ask the school to verify. If this happens, we will contact you to request this additional documentation.

What tax year do I need to provide income documentation for?

The FAFSA for 2024-2025 collects income information from your 2022 taxes. The 2023-2024 collects income information from your 2021 taxes. 

How do I verify my income?

If you filed a Federal Income Tax return, you have options:

1. Federal Tax Return Transcript. You may contact the IRS to obtain a tax return transcript. After you receive it, you must submit it to the Bethel University Office of Financial Aid. Please use our secure document upload tool to send documents.

  • Get Transcript by MAIL - Go to IRS. Select "Get Your Tax Record." Click "Get Transcript by Mail."  Make sure to request the "Return Transcript" NOT the "Account Transcript." The transcript is generally received within 10 business days from the IRS's receipt of the online request.
  • Get Transcript ONLINE - Go to IRS. Select "Get Your Tax Record." Click "Get Transcript Online." Review and complete the identity authorization process. If asked for a reason for the tax transcript select Higher Education/Student Aid. You should request the "Return Transcript" NOT the "Account Transcript." After successful authentication you will be able to view, print, or download your transcript.
  • Automated Telephone Request - 1-800-908-9946. Follow the prompts and select "Option 2" to request a Tax Return Transcript NOT a Tax Account Transcript. The transcript is generally received with 10 business days from the IRS's receipt of the telephone request.
  • Paper Request Form - IRS Form 4506T-EZ or IRS Form 4506-T (pdf). Carefully complete the form and request a "Return Transcript." The transcript is generally received with 10 business days from the IRS's receipt of the paper request form.

2. Federal Tax Return. Obtaining a tax return transcript from the IRS is the preferred method for documenting income. However, the Department of Education allows schools to accept a SIGNED copy of the federal income tax return as acceptable documentation of income for tax filers. Income verification for 2024-2025 requires a signed copy of the federal 1040 for the 2022 tax year along with schedules 1, 2 and 3. Income documentation for the 2023-2024 award year requires a signed copy of the 2021 federal tax return and schedules 1 through 3 if applicable. Additional schedules or forms (including W-2 forms) may be required to resolve conflicting information. Please use our secure document upload tool to send documents.


If you cannot use any of these methods, please document the issue you're experiencing and email Bethel's Financial Aid Office so we can advise you. 

How should I send the required information?

Tax documentation and other forms containing personally identifiable information should NOT be sent via email. Please use our secure document upload tool. You may also send documents via the U.S. Postal service or via fax 651-635-1491. If you send documents via one of these methods make sure to print the full name of the student (and Bethel ID number if known) at the top of the document.

If you have been selected to complete the Identity and Statement of Educational Purpose as part of the verification process there are two ways to submit that information. The first is to bring your form to the Financial Aid Office along with your valid government issued photo ID and complete the form in person. If you are unable to appear in person, you can have a notary complete and document your identity. The notarized form and identity documents CANNOT be faxed, emailed or uploaded. You must either send the original signed and completed form to the Financial Aid Office via the U.S. Postal service, or drop it off in person.

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 W-2s, or a statement indicating why a W-2 was not received. Also make sure to sign and date the verification form in the income section certifying that you were not required to file a tax return.

How can I document my income if I had foreign income?

A tax filer who filed an income tax return with a tax authority other than the IRS may provide a signed copy of his/her income tax return that was filed with the relevant tax authority. If the student/parent was a non-tax filer who earned foreign income; in addition to listing the income on the verification form, a verification of non-filing letter from the relevant non IRS tax authority should be obtained.

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. If we have questions we will contact you for clarification before making changes.

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. 

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 approximately 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 (February 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
  • 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
  • Untaxed income items
  • Family Size
  • Education Tax Credits
  • Foreign Income Exempt from Federal Taxation
  • Identity
  • Any inconsistent or conflicting information (including name, date of birth, social security number, etc.)

What if I'm a victim of identy theft?

An individual who was the victim of IRS tax-related identity theft must provide a Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV) transcript obtained from the IRS, or any other tax transcript(s) that include all of the income and tax information required to be verified. The individual must also provide a statement signed and dated by the tax filer, indicating that he or she was a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS is aware of the tax-related identity theft. Tax filers who were victims of IRS tax-related identity theft should contact the IRS's Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at 1-800-908-4490 to request a TRDBV transcript.

What if I had an IRA or Pension Rollover?

The tax filer should provide a signed and dated copy of the federal tax return, with the word "Rollover" written beside the applicable item(s). Alternatively, the tax filer may provide a written, signed statement to the Financial Aid Office indicating the amount of the original distribution, and the amount that was excluded because it was an authorized IRS rollover. 

What if I filed an amended tax return?

The Federal Tax Information (FTI) that transfers to the FAFSA from the IRS using the Direct Data Exchange process will include the tax data that the IRS has on file at the time the FTI is transferred. IF a tax return has been amended, the amended data will transfer. If the tax return is not yet amended, or was amended but not yet processed by the IRS, the original data will transfer and will not change. Taxpayers may need to provide Bethel with a copy of their signed or original tax return that was filed with the IRS along with a signed 1040X to resolve conflicting information.