When you apply for financial aid, you provide us with information regarding your income, assets, and household size. Sometimes we will request supporting documentation. This does not mean we expect your initial application to be completed perfectly. In fact, if you are applying for admission as a freshman, transfer, or graduate student, we want you to apply for financial aid before our deadline, and that will often be before your tax return has been submitted to the IRS. The federal government selects approximately 30 percent of our students for the verification process. The government tells what documents we need to review. In the case of students submitting the Texas Application for Student Financial Aid (TASFA), we select all of the applications for verification.
If, upon review of your financial aid application, we discover conflicting information, we are required to try to resolve the conflict. To do this, we will contact you via UT Dallas e-mail and request additional information.
If you filed your federal tax return incorrectly and we identify this error in the review of your financial aid application and supporting documents, we are required to notify you of the error and request that you submit a correction to the IRS. While we cannot require you to make the correction, we cannot continue the processing of your financial aid application until this has been done. The most common error we find is when one member of a married couple chooses to file as single or as head of household. With few exceptions, if you were married on the last day of the tax year, you must file as either married filing jointly or married filing separately. You should consult with the IRS or a qualified tax professional if you have questions.
A common conflict we discover when reviewing a financial aid application is when the household size reported on the FAFSA is different than the household size reported on the verification worksheet. We usually use the information reported on the worksheet to complete the verification process. However, if the number in the household reported on the worksheet is dramatically different than what was reported on the FAFSA, or what was reported in the previous year, we may request that you submit our “Household Size” form.
The following people count as being in the household of a dependent student’s parents, per the FAFSA’s instructions:
The student and parents: Even if the student is not living with the parents, he or she counts as being in the household. You must exclude a parent who has died or is not living in the household because of separation or divorce.
The student’s siblings and children: If the student’s brother or sister will be receiving more than half their support from the parent(s) during the academic year, they count as being in the parent’s household. Siblings do not need to actually live in the same house as the parents. This also includes an unborn child, either of the student’s or the student’s parent(s).
To count children in the household size, the “support test” is used rather than residency because there may be situations in which a parent supports a child who does not live with him or her, such as when the parent is divorced or separated. For the purposes of the financial aid process, foster children are not counted as being in the parent’s household, because foster children are typically financially supported by the government.
Other persons who live with and receive more than half their support from the student’s parent(s) and who will continue to receive more than half their support for the entire award year.
If you or your parents reported on the FAFSA that you had no income or very low income, we may ask you to explain to us how it is you and, if applicable, your family were able to provide for living expenses, such as housing and food. A number of benefit programs are not reported on the FAFSA, such as SNAP and government housing assistance. If that is how you supported yourself, please let us know. If you were living with someone who provided shelter and meals, let us know who and their relationship to you.
When we request that you provide us with an IRS issued Tax Return Transcript, one way to do this is to return to www.fafsa.ed.gov and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
As of March 6 the Data Retrieval Tool has not been available. The IRS has notified schools that a technical issue has caused them to turn off this feature. The FAFSA can still be completed, but applicants will need to transfer information from their 2015 tax return to the application manually. There is no indication from the IRS as to when this function will be made available again, so students should not delay completing the FAFSA waiting for DRT to be available.
If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool and you have been selected for verification, you will need to obtain a “Tax Return Transcript” from the IRS. This can be done on-line at www.irs.gov, by calling 800-908-9946 or by visiting an IRS Service Center,
NOTE: There is a difference between a Tax Return Transcript and a Tax Account Transcript. We cannot use the Tax Account Transcript to complete the verification process. Be certain to request a Tax Return Transcript.
If you filed an amended tax return and you have been selected for verification, you need to provide us with a signed photocopy revised Form 1040 and a signed photocopy of the Form 1040X. This is in addition to submitting to us the Tax Return Transcript.
We do not usually send a financial aid award notice until the verification process has been completed. The sooner you submit the materials requested, the sooner we will be able to offer you financial aid. It is possible to be selected for verification after you have been offered financial aid. When this happens you have 30 days to provide the requested documents. We reserve the option of cancelling a financial aid offer if the requested materials are not submitted within this time frame. If you need an extension of the deadline, please contact your financial aid counselor.
If you or your parents are not required to file a federal tax return, we will need a signed statement certifying this. You can find a form on our website to do this. You must provide us with a detailed list of your income in the previous year. If the income was earned in foreign currency you must convert the currency to US dollars as of the date you completed the original FAFSA. In addition, if you indicated you did not file a federal tax return, we may request from you a signed copy of IRS Form 4506-T. This form allows us to ask the IRS to confirm your status as a non-filer.
If you indicate on the FAFSA and this form that you had no income in the previous year, you may be asked to document how it is you were able to support yourself.
If you have tried using the DRT and it did not work and you have tried obtaining a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS using their automated telephone service and internet site and that also did not work, you can request a copy of your Tax Return Transcript using IRS Form 4506-T. We have a downloadable copy of this on our forms page. This process will take several weeks.
Some types of income are not reported on the tax return but still must be included on the FAFSA. An example of untaxed income is any pre-tax contribution made to an IRS approved retirement account (401K, IRA, etc.). Do not include the following on the FAFSA as untaxed income: student aid; earned income credit; additional child tax credit; welfare payments; untaxed Social Security benefits; Supplemental Security Income; Workforce Investment Act educational benefits; on-base military housing or a military housing allowance; combat pay; benefits from flexible spending arrangements (e.g., cafeteria plans); foreign income exclusion; or credit for federal tax on special fuels.
If you filed your federal tax return incorrectly, you will need to submit an amended tax return. When you submit an amended tax return, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool no longer provides the correct data on the FAFSA. You will need to provide us with three documents:
When you have completed your taxes, you should update the FAFSA with the correct answers. However, some of the data fields on the FAFSA can only be changed if, when you completed the FAFSA, the information was incorrect. For example, if you were married on the day you completed the FAFSA but you indicated that you were single on the form, you can make this correction (we may request additional information). However, if you were single on the day you completed the FAFSA and you have since married, you may not make that change, as that is considered an update. The same is true for answers to asset questions and questions regarding the household size.
The FAFSA collects data that is true as of the day you completed the form. If your situation has changed in such a way that the data reported on the FAFSA is no longer relevant, we want to know that. We have a process to review your Special Circumstance. If you were selected for verification, we must complete that process before we can begin the review of your appeal. However, once verification has been completed, we may be able to use the information and documentation you provide regarding your special circumstances to update our records.