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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 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."]

When completeing the FAFSA, many financial aid applicants were able to transfer their tax information onto the FAFSA directly from the IRS to further ensure the accuracy of the data. This data retrieval tool was disabled in March 2017 due to security concerns and it will not be available again until October of 2017. If you must document income, you will be asked to obtain a tax return transcript from the IRS. If you are unable to obtain a tax return transcript, the Department of Education has announced temporary relief which does allow schools to use a signed paper copy of the IRS tax return as acceptable documentation for verification purposes. See ED Announces Verification Relief for further information.

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. 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 both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 collect income information from your 2015 taxes.

How do I verify my income?

If you filed a Federal Income Tax return, you must obtain a Federal Tax Return Transcript from the IRS and submit it to the Bethel University Office of Financial Aid:

  • 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 obtain a tax return transcript, a signed copy of the Federal Tax Return which was filed with the IRS is acceptable documentation.

What happened to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool which allowed students and parents to transfer their tax information to the FAFSA from the IRS is currently unavailable. It is expected to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season, which begins in October 2017. To complete the FAFSA, applicants must manually input their tax information. Remember 2015 tax information is used to apply for aid for both the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 award years.

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. 

I was selected for verification last year (2016-2017) and already documented my income. Do I need to do this again?

If you filed taxes and used the IRS data retrieval to transfer your tax information to your FAFSA for 2016-2017 that information may be used to document your income for 2017-2018. If you filed taxes and documented income by submitting a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS for the 2015 tax year, Bethel can use this same information for 2017-2018. Likewise any W-2's that you submittted to Bethel for the 2015 tax year can be used for your 2017-2018 aid application. All students selected for verification will need to complete a new Verification Worksheet.

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 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.)

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 identy 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?

If the tax filer was able to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool when the FAFSA was filed, the tax filer may provide a written, signed statement to the Financial Aid Office indicating the amount of the distribution that was excluded because it was an authorized IRS rollover. Otherwise, the tax filer should provide a signed and dated tax return transcript from the IRS or a signed and dated copy of the federal tax return, with the word "Rollover" written beside the applicable item(s).

What if I filed an amended tax return?

Tax filers who amended their tax returns need to provide the Financial Aid Office with a copy of a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS or any other alternative IRS tax transcript containing all income and tax information from the original tax return required for verification and a copy of the IRS form 1040X (signed by the taxpayer) which was filed with the IRS. If the taxpayer is unable to obtain a tax return transcript from the IRS, a signed copy of the original tax return and a signed copy of the 1040x is acceptable.