A portion of all FAFSA filers are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education. This review process is not an indication that you did something wrong. It is simply a required, sample audit process to ensure accurate delivery of federal aid programs.
Verification may be for one or more of these items: income, household size, high school completion, or identity. Students need to complete required items outlined for them within the financial aid portal. Students are informed to review the financial aid portal via their "To Do" items.
- Beginning with fall 2022, new undergraduate students can see their "To Do" list within the Bearcat Portal.
- All students can access their financial aid "To Do" items using Catalyst.
Students cannot benefit from non-scholarship aid until the verification process is complete. Any delay can cause the loss of eligibility for limited aid sources. Failure to complete verification prior to your last day of enrollment can result in total loss of aid eligibility.
NOTE: Any federal, state, or institutional grants, work-study, or loans offered in awards prior to completing verification are subject to change based on verification. Determination of your award will be reviewed once all verification and other requirements are completed.
Do not delay in completing verification. Aid cannot be released until it is completed. University bills can be assessed late payment fees even if you are in the process of completing verification.
2023-24 Aid Applicants: All elements of verification for 2023-24 must be completed by selected students as directed within the Financial Aid Portal.
2022-23 Aid Applicants: On May 18, 2022, the Department of Education waived income verification for most students who had not completed it yet for the 2022-23 academic year. Students who had previously been informed they needed to supply tax information may no longer need to due to the waiver. At the same time, students who had submitted some parts of verification or where questions exist on the FAFSA still needed to be reviewed and may need to supply additional documents to ensure there was no conflicting information with their aid record prior to receiving 2022-23 aid.
Because income is a significant component in determining aid eligibility, it is the most widely verified item. Note that students who were required to complete the FAFSA with parent information will also need a parent to sign corresponding documents when completing verification.
Most students selected for income verification will complete the verification worksheet may ask you to detail your (or your parents') household size by listing household members. The worksheet will then ask you to indicate how you are going to supply needed tax information.
- IRS DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL: This online process is the simplest and most direct way of connecting information from taxes to the FAFSA.
- If you (or your parents) already used the IRS data retrieval tool when filing your FAFSA, the financial aid portal will not ask for tax information as you have pulled it over from IRS already.
- When tax information is requested, you (and your parents, when indicated) can elect to go back into https://fafsa.gov to use the data retrieval to supply the required tax information.
- IRS data retrieval is the most efficient way to verify tax information. At the same time, it can take up to a week before the tax request on the "To Do" listing is updated due to processing time for UC to receive your updated FAFSA information.
- IRS TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPT: Students (and parents) who are unable or unwilling to use the retrieval tool can submit the appropriate Tax Return Transcripts from the IRS.
- To receive a transcript, the tax filer (or someone with SSN, date of birth, and exact address used on the tax filing) needs to request the transcript.
- You can view, download, and print the pdf version of your transcript directly from www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript.
- You can also use that same website to have a copy mailed to you or request one by calling 1-800-908-9946.
- Be sure to request the IRS Tax Return Transcript, not the IRS Tax Account Transcript.
- SIGNED COPY OF FILED FEDERAL TAX RETURN: Students and parents needing to verify income may do so via signed copies of their filed federal tax returns.
- Make sure all submitted tax returns are federal, for the year requested, and signed.
- No schedules are needed. So your tax return is a single page if it is a 1040EZ and 2 pages if it is a 1040 or 1040A.
- NON-FILING PROOF: Any non-tax filer will need to supply the following when selected for verification:
- A signed statement certifying that the student, student spouse, or parent(s) has not filed and is not required to file that year's income tax return and listing the sources and amounts of income earned from work.
- Copies of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received (or an equivalent document such as the Wage and Income Transcript).
- IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter obtained from IRS dated on or after filing the FAFSA.
- Verification of Non-filing Letter is required unless you are unable to receive one.
- Acceptable reasons for not having a Verification of Non-filing Letter are very limited and at the determination of UC.
- Because you are seeking funding from the federal government, we are required to instruct persons who are shown not to have filed the year's federal tax with income levels requiring a return to file one prior to continuing the aid process.
Both the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and IRS Tax Return Transcripts require you to have filed your federal taxes. Your tax information for the online retrieval tool or to request a transcript can take up to 2 weeks from you filing your federal taxes electronically and up to 8 weeks if filed by paper/mail.
Verifying High School Completion
Undergraduate non-transfer students seeking aid assistance must provide the UC Admissions Office with a final transcript showing graduation, GED completion, or home school credentials. UC will not release federal financial aid until this requirement is met.
At the same time, the Department of Education, by selecting a student to provide documentation of high school completion, may require UC to collect this information as part of verification.
In rare cases, a student may be selected for identity verification. It will require presenting yourself to UC personnel at Enrollment Services along with a valid government-issued photo ID, such as driver's license, other state ID, or passport.
Students who live far from campus or are distance learning student who never actually take classes will need to supply copies of identification along with a form completed and notarized. Students needing to use a notary can find one generally at their local bank.
Processing & Award Offer
Only submit verification documents via the financial aid portal when instructed to do so via the Bearcat Portal or Catalyst "To Do" listing.
Student Financial Aid staff will review all submitted items for verification. Assuming all documents are correctly submitted, information will be compared to your FAFSA data with necessary updates made by staff.
If changes are made, you will receive an updated Student Aid Report via email highlighting the changes made. If you have questions about those changes, you can speak with Enrollment Services staff.
Once your information is verified and any FAFSA updates made, aid eligibility adjustments will be made if needed or awarding of aid be completed.