Verification Policies & Procedures

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education selects approximately one-third of all FAFSAs for a process called Verification, through which the Financial Aid Office is required to confirm the accuracy of the information on the FAFSA. Applicants selected for Verification will be notified by the Federal processor through a comment on the Student Aid Report (SAR) and by notification from the Art Academy of Cincinnati through letter mailed to the student.  The Art Academy of Cincinnati will verify all applicants selected by the Federal processor. In addition, the Art Academy reserves the right to verify any application not federally selected for Verification.

The Art Academy uses the Federal Verification Worksheet and will send the worksheet to selected students. The completed Verification Worksheet, along with all supporting documentation requested, will be required to comply with regulations.

The Art Academy considers the Verification process to begin at the time the student is notified that they are being verified.

Items to be verified for 2015-16:

  • Number of household members
  • Number in college
  • Adjusted gross income (AGI) for the base year
  • Federal income tax paid for the base year.
  • Certain untaxed income if reported on the 2014-15 FAFSA, including untaxed IRA distributions, untaxed pension distributions, education credits, IRA deductions, and tax exempt interest.
  • Child support paid, if reported on the 2014-15 FAFSA
  • Receipt of SNAP benefits, also known as Food Stamps, if reported on the FAFSA.
  • Income earned from work (for non-tax filers ONLY)  

Conflicting data must be verified and resolved before processing is complete. Title IV and state aid will not be disbursed to a student's account until the Verification process is complete.  This includes the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and Federal Direct Loans (Stafford and Plus). Students will be prevented from earning a Federal Work Study award until Verification is complete.

Corrections to data will result in a recalculation of the applicant's financial aid eligibility.  If the recalculation results in a change to the expected family contribution, equaling a change in Title IV aid eligibility, the Financial Aid Office will submit the corrections electronically. When the corrected ISIR is received, it is subject to the same Verification procedures as the original application. Financial aid eligibility is determined from the corrected ISIR and an award letter is mailed to the student notifying them of any changes to their awards as a result of the Verification.

IRS Data Retrieval Process

Financial aid offices are no longer 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: 
  • 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.
  • Our office will still need to collect a Verification Worksheet 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 

OPTION 2. If you do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Process, and are selected for Verification, you will have to submit an official IRS 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 who it is paid, the person to whom it is paid.
  • Food Stamp Benefits.  

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.
  • Redirect you to a secure IRS website.
  • You will permit the IRS to transfer income data to the CPS Processor.
  • 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 transcripts, 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.

How to Obtain a 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 after using the retrieval process, you will be required to request a tax transcript from the IRS and submit it to the Financial Aid Office. Personal copies of tax returns can no longer be accepted.

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
  • To order online: Go to