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What is Verification?

Verification is a procedure used to review processed FAFSA information to ensure that it was completed accurately. Applicants who already filed their federal income tax returns are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) when completing the FAFSA which will prefill the answers to some questions by transferring data from their federal income tax returns. Students who do so initially are less likely to be selected for verification.If you did not use the DRT, you should go back into your FAFSA and use it to update your financial information shortly after you file your taxes.(For a list of timeframes, please review our Obtain a Tax Transcript from the IRS page.)

What Should You Expect?

If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will be sent an email from our office asking you to review your PAWS To Do List for additional requirements. Beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year, verification will become more customized—in other words, not everyone will have to verify the same items. If tax information needs to be verified, federal regulations require that the information be obtained directly from the IRS either by choosing the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) option on the FAFSA (preferred method) or by requesting a tax transcript from the IRS and submitting it to our office. Please DO NOT submit copies of your federal tax returns unless specifically asked to do so. 

For items not found on the federal tax return transcript, the Financial Aid Office will need to collect additional documentation to determine whether certain questions on the FAFSA were completed accurately. Some students are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education while others are selected by the school. Details on the additional documents that are required will be shown in your To Do List.

For more information about the IRS Data Retrieval option, refer to the instructions that are included in the verification worksheets below or view this 2 minute video. 

IRS Data Retrieval Video

FAQ IRS Data Retrieval Tool

Why Was Your FAFSA Selected for Verification?

There are several possible reasons for your FAFSA being selected for verification.  Keep in mind that other possibilities exist, but the following are the most common reasons:

  • When completing your FAFSA you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), or you did but then subsequently changed the data
  • Your FAFSA has incomplete data
  • Your FAFSA includes estimated information
  • You were randomly selected
  • You have made multiple corrections to your FAFSA

If Selected for Verification, You Must Do the Following:

  1. Monitor your UWM email and your PAWS To Do List. If additional information or documents are needed, they will be requested via email.
  2. If a Verification Worksheet is required, select the appropriate Worksheet from the Forms Listed Below. Complete, print and submit it to the Financial Aid Office (it can be mailed, faxed, or dropped off).If you aren’t required to file a tax return, indicate that on the worksheet. Attach W2’s if you had any employment.
  3. If tax transcripts are reflected on your PAWS To Do List, and you filed a tax return, go back into your FAFSA application and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).Our office will be sent a confirmation that your information came directly from the IRS.Once we receive that information, the need for a transcript will drop off of your To Do List.
  4. If you are unable to use the DRT, you will need to request a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS.
  5. If information needs to be corrected, our office will submit the corrections electronically and continue review of your application after the corrections have been accepted and processed by the Central Processor. If corrections are not required, and all necessary documentation is completed, your eligibility for financial aid will be determined, and you will be sent an email notification.

Because there are certain deadlines, it is important that the verification process be completed in a timely manner.  Failure to complete verification of your application will prevent you from receiving a financial aid award. For the Pell Grant only, verification materials must be submitted no later than 120 days after the last day of attendance, or by September 25, whichever is earlier. For all other programs, verification materials must be submitted and aid eligibility determined no later than the last date of attendance. A loan cannot be offered to you after your last date of attendance. Please allow approximately 4-6 weeks following receipt of your documentation for the verification process to be completed and your eligibility for financial aid to be determined.If corrections are required, the entire process will require an additional 7-10 days 

IMPORTANT: If you wait until the summer months to submit the documents needed for the verification process to be completed, the amount of time it takes to complete the verification process increases significantly; eight weeks is not unusual. Students are strongly encouraged to apply by March 1, which is the UWM priority filing date, to avoid delays in receiving both an offer and disbursement of their financial aid.