Major Financial Aid Changes for 2012 - 2013

FAFSA & IRS Data Retrieval Process


Beginning with the 2012-13 academic year, financial aid offices will no longer be able to accept signed copies of federal tax returns from students and parents for FAFSA Verification purposes.

There is an easier, faster way to provide tax information for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). When completing the FAFSA you will be prompted to enter your PIN and link to the IRS web site. The retrieval process will display your tax information and allow you to transfer it to your FAFSA. Our office encourages everyone to retrieve their tax data if you and your parent(s) have filed your 2011 tax return(s) prior to completing the FAFSA. Families who do not use the IRS Data Retrieval process may be required to submit an IRS tax transcript directly from the IRS to complete the federal verification process.

Option 1. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Process when completing the FAFSA online.

  • FAFSA provides instructions to link to the IRS while completing the FAFSA. Certain data elements such as AGI and taxes paid will be entered for you on the FAFSA. The data is considered "verified" for FAFSA purposes.
  • Students and parents should apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN). The PIN is an electronic signature necessary for quick completion of the online process. To apply go to: www.PIN.ed.gov  
  • The Federal Tax Return must be filed at least two weeks (if filing electronically) and 6 -8 weeks (if filing paper return) before using the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Process to allow the IRS time to process the return.
  • The college may still need to collect additional documentation to verify data not provided by the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Process (ex: copies of W-2 and 1099 forms, institutional verification forms for such items as household size, number in college, and untaxed income.)
  • Certain tax filers may not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval and will need to request an IRS Tax Transcript
    • To successfully use this option you must:
      • Have a federal tax return filed with the IRS.
      • Have a valid social security number.
      • Have a Federal Aid Personal Identification Number (PIN)
    • You will be not be able to use this option if:
      • Your marital status changes after December 31 of the same tax year.
      • You filed married filing separately.
      • You filed an amended return.
      • You filed a foreign tax return.

Option 2. If selected for verification, you will have to submit an official tax transcript.

  • An official tax transcript will be required for tax filers not able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process or who make changes to FAFSA data after using this process.
  • You will also be required to verify the following data elements:
    • Child support paid, the child(ren) for whom it is paid, the person to whom it is paid
    • Food Stamp Benefits

The Office of Student Financial Aid appreciates your patience as we implement this new requirement of the U.S. Department of Education.

How the IRS Data Retrieval Tool Works

When either a parent or student selects the IRS Data Retrieval option,

  • The FAFSA Central Processing System (CPS) will conduct a data match with the IRS.
  • CPS will redirect you to a secure IRS website
  • You will permit the IRS to transfer income data to the CPS Data
  • Successfully matched data will be noted on the FAFSA as, "Transferred from the IRS."

A successful match between CPS and the IRS will:

  • Eliminate requesting federal income tax return documents, as long as FAFSA data fields are not subsequently changed on your FAFSA.
  • Avoid reporting errors and processing delays that can otherwise occur

Please note that you may still be required to supply other income information as part of general verification process.

For more help, review these step-by-step instructions for submitting additional information or corrections on your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Free Tax Return Transcript from the IRS

If your FAFSA is selected for verification, and you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval option or you changed the IRS data, you will be required to request a tax transcript from IRS and submit it to the Financial Aid Office. Personal copies of tax returns can no longer be accepted.

There are three ways to request your Tax Transcript: by phone, online, or by mail.

Please make sure you request a Tax Transcript. DO NOT request a Tax Account Transcript or Record of Account because they cannot be used for financial aid verification purposes.

To order by phone:

  • Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
  • Choose Option 2 (Personal Income Taxes)
  • Choose Option 1 (Tax History)
  • Choose Option 2 (Tax Return Transcript)
  • Enter and verify Social Security number (if joint return both SSNs required)
  • Enter and verify numbers in street address
  • Choose Option 2 for Tax Transcript and indicate which year (i.e. 2011)

To order online:

  • Go to www.irs.gov
  • Click Order a Tax Return or Account Transcript located in the left-hand column
  • Click Order a Transcript under Step 3
  • Enter your SSN, Date of Birth, Street Address, and Zip Code
  • Click Continue
  • Select Return Transcript for Tax Year (i.e. 2011)
  • Click Continue

A tax return transcript can be ordered by mail:

  • Complete Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return)
  • Form 4506-T is available online at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506t.pdf.
  • Mail to the address indicated on the form
  • Your transcript(s) will be mailed within 5 to 10 days from the IRS.