What is verification?
Each year the federal government and/or Cumberland University Financial Aid Services Office randomly selects financial aid recipients for verification. The verification process requires that we review the information reported on the FAFSA and check for accuracy against documentation you provide to our office.
The U.S. Department of Education has moved towards a more individualized verification process where only certain elements of verification are performed on particular students. This means that Cumberland University may not require the same documentation from each student selected for verification.
If you are selected for verification, you will be asked to submit a verification worksheet (and may also need to provide copies of Federal Return Transcripts (see the IRS Data Retrieval Tool section below) and W-2 forms/Schedule C or F. You should not submit tax return transcripts or other verification documentation unless the Student Financial Services Office requests it.
How will I know if I’ve been selected for verification?
All students will be notified by postal mail, email, and phone. If a cell number is available, we may also send you a request to contact the office by text message. The SFS office will use the address provided to admissions and/or the address provided on the FAFSA to request documentation by mail. Contact by email or phone will be to the information provided on the admission application or FAFSA.
How does using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool ease verification requirements?
In most cases, if you or your parents (if a dependent student) have utilized the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when completing your FAFSA, we will no longer require a copy of your Federal Return Transcript. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool helps streamline the FAFSA by allowing tax filers to pull specific tax return data directly from the IRS into the FAFSA. The retrieval tool saves you time and increases the accuracy of your FAFSA information.
If at the time you filed your initial FAFSA, you or your parents (if dependent student) had not yet filed a Federal Tax Return, you should update your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool once your tax return has been filed with the IRS.
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool cannot be used until you and/or your parents have filed taxes.
- Electronically filed tax return information will be available online from the IRS site within 2-3 weeks after the return has been filed.
- Data from paper tax returns will be available in 6-8 weeks.
You are not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if:
- You did not file a federal tax return .
- You filed an amended federal tax return.
- Your marital status changed after December 31st.
- Your federal tax return filing status is “married filing separately”.
- You filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return.
- You filed a tax return using a Tax ID Number.
- You applied for a Federal IRS Tax Filing Extension.
- Your home address on the FAFSA does not match the address on the tax return.
- For more information about the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, please visit www.fafsa.gov.
What if a student or parent filed for a tax return extension?
- An institution may not delay completing verification for an applicant when a tax filing extension has been granted by the IRS. The income and tax verification regulatory requirements are met if a tax filer who has been granted a filing extension by the IRS provides the institution with a copy of IRS Form 4868 and a copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for the tax year; and if self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the AGI and the U.S. income tax paid for the tax year.
- A student and/or parent who has filed a tax return extension and who submits the appropriate documentation to the financial aid office will receive an estimated financial aid award. However, funds may not be disbursed until after the tax return is filed, and the filer either uses the IRS DRT on the FAFSA, or submits an IRS Tax Return Transcript. If the required documentation is not submitted by the established institutional deadline of December 1st, any federal, state, or institutional aid previously received for that award year may be returned by the student and no additional need-based aid will be disbursed for that award year.
Are there deadlines for completing my verification documents?
Yes. Verification documents should be submitted as soon after notification as possible or at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the semester. In addition:
- For Pell Grant recipients, all verification documents, along with a verified SAR or ISIR must be received no later than the earlier of 120 days after the student’s last day of enrollment in the award year.
- For Direct Loan and other various financial aid program recipients, all verification documents, along with a verified SAR or ISIR must be received ten business days prior to the last day of the student’s enrollment.
What if I don’t complete my verification documents on time?
There are negative consequences resulting from failure to complete verification within a timely manner including limited funding availability. Our goal is to help you to avoid these consequences. Verification regulations require the following:
- Verification may result in FAFSA corrections that change your award amounts and the amount you owe.
- Estimated financial aid awards may be removed if verification is not completed within specified deadlines.
- Financial aid funds will not be applied as payment to your student account or disbursed to you until the verification process is completed.
What happens after all verification materials have been submitted?
Financial Aid Services has the right after reviewing verification information to change or cancel an award based on the information provided. If verification results in changes to an applicant’s financial aid eligibility, a revised award notice will be mailed to the permanent address and/or sent to the student’s Cumberland University email address.
Please keep in mind that due to heavy volume in the summer and early fall, there may be a delay of up to 10 business days in the review of verification materials submitted.
What happens if I cannot complete verification or choose not to complete the process?
Once selected for verification individuals who choose not to complete the federal verification process will not be eligible for any federal or state financial aid including federal loans. Please contact the Student Financial Services Office for any specific questions or concerns.
What happens if the university suspects fraud?
Individuals who have purposely-misreported information or altered documentation to fraudulently obtain financial aid funds will be reported to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General.