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We highly recommend that you complete your FAFSA no later than May 1st for the Fall semester and no later than October 1st for the spring semester.
Once the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been completed, the information is processed by the U.S. Department of Education and the results are sent to all colleges listed on the FAFSA as well as to the student. The Department of Education may select a file for a process called verification. If your FAFSA is selected, you will be required to submit signed copies of certain financial documents* via Collin's Financial Aid Portal.
The verification process requires that information from the student's FAFSA application
be compared with copies of the student's, spouse's (if married) and parent's (if dependent)
federal tax information*, or other financial documents. Additional documentation,
information or clarification may be required as it applies to the information on the
application including the verification worksheet available on the Collin web site.
Notification of any outstanding requirements is sent to students via e-mail (the e-mail
account the student entered on the FAFSA). The student's Cougar Web account will
also list the document requirements and the status.
Once the required document or documents are submitted, the verification processing
staff will compare the information on the FAFSA with the information on the financial
documents and will make any adjustments or corrections on any differences. If submission
of the corrections is necessary (not all differences require submission), the financial aid staff will electronically submit the changes on the student's behalf to the Department of Education so eligibility can be recalculated. Once the FAFSA
is reprocessed, the college will receive a new FAFSA with the corrected results which
will be used to package the student's financial aid award.
If corrections are submitted, the notification will be posted in the college's system which the student can view via their Cougar Web account. We ask students NOT to make any corrections once verification documentation has been submitted to the Financial Aid Office, since this can significantly delay the process.
Whenever Collin receives a flagged FAFSA form, whether for verification or any other issue, a missing information e-mail or letter is sent to the student requesting the information needed to complete the student's file. In addition, students can view any requirements in their Cougar Web account. No further action will be taken on the student's file until all documentation or information requested is received.
It is standard Collin procedure not to award any financial assistance until verification is completed.
All required documents should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office as soon as possible after being notified of the requirement. Delay in submitting all required documents will cause a delay in awarding of financial aid. Also, it could result in the student needing to pay all of or part of their bill until awarding takes place.
Students are expected to apply for aid and complete the verification process before
the term has ended. Otherwise, the student is in jeopardy of not receiving any Federal
aid for their period of enrollment. A Pell Grant applicant must complete the entire
process before the Pell Grant Program deadline in September or 120 days after the
last day of the student's enrollment whichever is earlier. If the process is not
completed the student is not eligible for Pell for that award year.
New Verification Requirements
The U.S. Department of Education instituted some changes to the verification process beginning with the 2012-2013 award year. According to the U.S. Department of Education Dear Colleague Letter GEN 11-03:
Since most applicants can quickly and easily access IRS data through the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval process, we no longer consider it reasonable for an institution to accept anything less than reliable IRS-supplied evidence for verification of income data. Therefore, if an applicant selected for verification, who has not successfully transferred information from the IRS, or one who did transfer the information but then changed it, the Department expects the institution to require the applicant, and if necessary the applicant's parents, to provide an official IRS transcript of their Federal Income Tax information.
What This Means
Students and parents can no longer submit a signed copy of their Federal tax returns as a means of confirming the income reported on the FAFSA. When completing the income sections of the FAFSA, the applicant is given the option to have this data retrieved directly from the IRS.
If applicants decide not to use the IRS data retrieval process and the application is selected for verification, the applicant and parents will be required to submit an IRS Tax Transcript. If the IRS tax retrieved information is changed on the FAFSA, the applicant (and/or parents) will be required to submit an IRS Tax Transcript.
However, if the retrieved data is not changed, then an IRS Tax Transcript will not be required.
Tax Filers with Special Circumstances
The IRS Tax Retrieval may not be available for the applicant (or parents) in the following circumstances:
- A joint tax return was filed for the tax year, but the student or the student's parents
have filed the FAFSA with a marital status of separated, divorced or widowed.
- If the tax filer is married to someone other than the individual on the joint tax
- If the parent or student was not married in the tax year, but is married at the time the FAFSA is filed. The current spouse's income must be reported on the FAFSA.
- If the parents or the student are married, but filed separate returns.
- If an amended tax return was filed.
- If the tax return was filed less than two weeks before filing the FAFSA.
Requesting an IRS Tax Transcript
This can be done free of charge from the IRS in one of four ways:
- Online at the IRS website www.irs.gov
There are two ways to order from the IRS website.
- NEW! You can now download a pdf copy of your Tax Return Transcript in minutes using the
IRS's new "Get Transcript" function. Simply go to www.irs.gov/transcript and follow the instructions there.
- You can order a copy of your Tax Return Transcript to be mailed to your address currently on file with the IRS (the address you used on the last tax return filed). Mailed transcripts typically arrive within 5 to 10 days from the time the online request was successfully transmitted to the IRS.
- By telephone: Call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946. Select "Option 2" to request
an IRS Tax Return
Transcript. T akes 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request.
- By paper form 4506T-EZ available for download at www.irs.gov
For a more detailed explanation of how to request an IRS Tax Transcript, click here.
Non-Tax Filers Selected for Verification
For an individual that has not filed and, under IRS rules is not required to file an income tax return, a copy of IRS Form W-2 for each source of employment income received in the tax year must be provided.