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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. 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.

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. Since the tax filing deadline has passed, you should be able to use the IRS Data Retireval unless one of the circumstances listed below exists.
    • 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 W-2s, or a statement indicating why a W-2 was not received. In addition to documentation that the Verification Form collects, you also will need to obtain a "Verification of Non-filing Letter" from the IRS dated on or after October 1, 2016 certifying that a 2015 IRS income tax return was not filed with the IRS.

What is a Verification of Non-filing Letter and how do I get one?

The "Verification of Non-filing Letter" is a letter obtained from the IRS which states that the individual requesting it did not file a tax return for the calendar year it is requested for. Beginning with the 2017-2018 award year, this documentation from the IRS is required anytime a student's FAFSA is selected for verification and either the student or parent did not file a tax return.

An IRS Verification of Non-filing letter can be obtained using the IRS Get Transcript service. If the individual cannot obtain one online for whatever reason, it must be obtained by completing and checking box 7 on the IRS Form 4506-T Request for Transcript of Tax Return, and mailing or faxing it to the IRS. If you choose to have the non-filing letter sent direct to Bethel please list our full address in box 5: (Bethel University, Office of Financial Aid, 3900 Bethel Dr., St. Paul, MN 55112).

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.

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 you should follow this same procedure 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. If you did not file 2015 taxes, you will need to obtain the "Verification of Non-filing Letter from the IRS to submit to Bethel. This is a new requirement beginning in 2017-2018. 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 you use the IRS Data Retrieval tool to automatically transfer your tax data, FAFSA does not identify and properly exclude IRA and/or Pension distributions that have been rolled over into another account. If you have a rollover, do not attempt to correct the information yourself. This compromises the data which was transferred from the IRS onto your FAFSA. Instead, the tax filer should 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. Alternatively, the tax filer can provide a signed and dated tax return transcript from the IRS with the word "Rollover" written beside the applicable item(s) on the transcript.

What if I filed an amended tax return?

Tax filers who have amended their tax returns are not able to utilize the IRS Data Retrieval process to transfer tax information onto the FAFSA. The tax filer will 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.