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Verification

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Verification

What is verification?

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Verification is a process in which the information you submitted on the FAFSA must be documented and verified for accuracy. Verification may affect your FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and as a result, your eligiblity for need-based financial aid.

If you are a continuing student, you will not receive your Financial Aid Award until verification is completed.

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

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The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is an option available on the FAFSA for a student to automatically link to the IRS website in order to upload tax information for both student and parent.  This is the most efficient, easiest and safest option for inputting tax information, and for students in verification, it eliminates time and paperwork that would otherwise need to be submitted.

Reasons why students may not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool include:

-If student/parent amended or has to amend their taxes.

-Dependent student’s parents filed separately or an independent student and spouse filed separately.

-Change in marital status after taxes were filed.

Why am I being asked to amend my taxes?

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There are two common reasons why a Financial Aid Office would ask a student, or a student’s parents to amend their taxes.

The first, and most common reason, is filing taxes with an incorrect filing status.  An example of this would be if someone who is married, or considered married, filed as Head of Household.  We would have to ask them to amend due to an incorrect filing status as defined by the IRS.

The second common reason is if a student is claimed by more than one person.  An example of this would be if the student claimed his/herself on taxes, and a parent claimed them as well.   We would have to ask the student or parent to amend their taxes since a person cannot be claimed twice, per the IRS.

If you think you may need to amend but are not sure, please contact the Financial Aid office.

What do I do if I was selected for verification and I/myparents have a tax extension?

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If you or your parent(s) filed a tax extension, your taxes are typically due 6 months after the original deadline of April 15th which places the extension deadline on or around October 15th of the same year.  Any students who are in verification and have a tax extension (or whose parent(s) have a tax extension) will need to contact the Financial Aid office so their verification requirements can be updated in their file.

Before Fall registration in August, a student/parent(s) who have filed a tax extension and are selected for verification will have to provide a copy of their IRS Form 4868, the Application for Automatic Tax Extension.  If the individuals included on the extension are NOT self-employed, they will need to provide a copy of all of their W-2 forms from the previous year.  If they ARE self-employed, they will need to fill out a Self-Employed Tax Extension Statement form, which asks them to list some income information.

The deadline for turning in paperwork to the ORU Financial Aid office after fulfilling a tax extension is usually 2-3 weeks after the IRS extension deadline.  Copies of tax transcripts must be submitted by the ORU deadline or as soon as possible so that a student’s information can be updated.  Students and parents can expedite the process by opting to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool as a FAFSA correction as early as two weeks after filing.

Students who do not turn in requested paperwork by established deadlines risk losing awarded financial aid, and will be responsible for all fall term charges.  No refunds will be issued before verification is complete.

Why do I now have to submit a tax transcript instead of a tax return?

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In 2012, the Department of Education changed a regulation that required all Finacial Aid Offices to obtain federal tax return transcripts instead of tax returns for the verification process.  They did this to ensure that all information being submitted was accurate and approved by the Internal Revenue Service.  Due to this regulation, the ORU Financial Aid office can no longer accept any tax returns for the purpose of verification.

What is the Budget Resource Worksheet and why do I have to fill it out?

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The Budget Resource Worksheet is a form that asks for a detailed account of how income was disbursed for family expenses over the course of a year.  If the income reported on your FAFSA is under a specific threshold for a family of your size, your application may have been flagged to verify how your family’s expenses were covered.

What do I need to turn in to complete the verification process?

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If you are a FAFSA dependent student, you and your parent(s) will be required to submit verification documentation. If you are a FAFSA independent student, you (and your spouse, if married) will need to submit the documentation. Required verification documentation may include:

– Budget Resource Worksheet, available on Vision
– Dependent Verification Worksheet
– Independent Verification
– Copy of 2015 Federal tax transcript(s)
– Copy of 2015 Forms W-2 for non-filers
– Copy of Form 4868 if you applied for a tax filing extension, as well as a Self-Employed Tax- Extension Statement for self-employed parents or students
– Additional items may be requested by the Financial AId Office

If you or your parents have not already used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool available through your FAFSA application, by making a correction to your FAFSA and using this tool, several verification steps and requirements may be eliminated.

Please refer to Vision for a complete list of requirements.

In order to watch the “How to View Verification Requirements” video, click here.

If my parents don’t support me can I file the FAFSA as an independent student?

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The fact that your parents do not support you is not enough to make you independent for the FAFSA. In general, if you are under the age of 24, you are a dependent student for FAFSA purposes, unless one of the following is true:

– You are a graduate student
– You are married
– You are on active duty in or are a veteran of the U.S. armed forces
– You are an orphan/ward of the court or were in foster care
– You are an emancipated minor or are in legal guardianship, as determined by the courts(not by age)
– You have children or other dependents, for whom you are the primary source of support
– You are homeless and have been declared homeless by an shelter or agency

If you are an undergraduate student, you will be required to document your independent status if it is not based on your birth date.

If you have a special family situation, such as an abusive household, both parents incarcerated, etc. and you can document those circumstances, you may qualify for a Dependency Override. Please follow the directions for requesting Professional Judgment consideration on ORU’s website.

How long will it take to process my verification?

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Once all verification documents are received, allow one week for processing. Please allow additional time during peak processing seasons.

Peak Seasons:  July – August and January of each aid year.

Why isn’t it showing that the verification document I already submitted has been received?

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After you’ve submitted a document, please allow 2-3 business days for our system to be updated. During peak processing times (such as the days surrounding the April 19th file completion deadline) or around fall and spring registration, please allow additional time for our system to be updated. Also, be sure to check your vision account and ORU email to make sure that the Financial Aid Office hasn’t requested additional documentation.  Once we have processed a document, vision reflects the update immediately.

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