Reviewing a student's file often involves more than just the verification process. In addition to verification, the aid administrator must review an applicant's file for database matches; reject codes and "C" codes. The aid administrator must also review a student's file for other need analysis data elements that are not included in the federally required verification process but are designated as necessary verification data elements by the school. Schools must also review subsequent ISIR records for changes that may impact the applicant's aid eligibility. For these reasons, verification is considered under the broader process of file review. Applications are selected for verification either by the CPS or by the school.
It is Iona University's policy to verify all continuing students who are selected for verification before they are packaged for the upcoming award year. Freshman verification begins after they have enrolled for the upcoming academic year. All students, whether continuing or freshman, are verified before aid will be disbursed to their student accounts. Iona University’s verification deadline is July 15 annually.
Applicants that are excluded from verification include, but are not limited to:
- Applicants who die during the award year (regardless of conflicting information).
- Applicants who are legal residents (or dependents of parents who are legal residents) of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, or American Samoa.
- Applicants who are citizens of (and dependents of parents who are citizens of) the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.
- Incarcerated students.
- Dependent students whose parents reside outside the United States and cannot be contacted by normal means of communication (exclusion is applicable to parental information only) calendar year of the award year.
- An applicant whose parents' address is unknown and cannot be obtained (exclusion is applicable to parental information only).
- A dependent applicant and both parents are deceased or physically or mentally incapacitated (exclusion is applicable to parental information only).
- An applicant who will not receive Title IV assistance for reasons other than the applicant's failure to verify the information on the application.
- Any other applicants excluded from verification by Iona.
Students who are dependents of their parents are required to submit a copy of your and/or your parents' IRS tax transcript for the prior year federal income tax returns. There is a link between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and your FAFSA information. Many families will be able to utilize a new IRS Data Retrieval Tool to allow the IRS to send your tax return data directly to the FAFSA. Not all families will have this option and there is no way to predetermine if you will be able to do this. However, based on answers you complete during the submission of your FASFA, you may be given this option and we recommend you use it if provided the opportunity. This option will become available by late January/early February. You will need to have filed your tax returns for the previous year in order to be eligible for the DRT option, and you can update your FAFSA at a later date using the DRT if you have not yet filed your previous year’s taxes when you complete your FAFSA.
The above process pertains to dependent and independent students.
The required verification documentation must be submitted to the SFS Office within 2 weeks of notification by our office. If SFS does not receive the required documentation by the 4th week of the semester, a hold will be placed on the student's account which will prevent them from registering for upcoming terms. If documentation is not received by the 7th week of the term, all Federal aid will be canceled. These students receive an email indicating their aid has changed. A bill will also be emailed to the student's Iona email reflecting the new balance due to Iona University.
Acceptable documentation and forms required for verification are listed below. Additional documentation may be requested.
- Dependent students must complete the Federal Dependent Verification Worksheet while independent students must complete the Federal Independent Verification Worksheet. See available forms.
- IRS tax transcript is available from the IRS website. Make sure to include your student id on the form.
- The term "untaxed income" means any income excluded from federal income taxation under the IRS code. In addition to the untaxed income listed below, SFS is required to verify all other untaxed income reported on the tax returns. Untaxed income documentation (e.g., letters from the Social Security Administration to verify social security benefits, W-2 forms for contributions to retirement plans, etc. or a signed statement by the student (and parent/or spouse certifying that the amount of untaxed income reported on the application is correct.)
- Dependent students must make sure they signed the verification worksheet as well as one parent.
- Independent students must sign the Independent Worksheet. If married, the spouse must also sign the form.
Below is the process by which Iona University assigns and collects the required documents for the verification process:
- New students to Iona University are sent letters requesting the missing documentation. These are run on a bi-weekly basis starting in May.
- Continuing students receive an email to their Iona University email account requesting the missing documentation beginning in February-March.
- The required documents for verification are manually updated on our PeopleSoft system. A checklist is assigned by the system for all students who are selected for verification when their FAFSA is received. As the documents are received, the checklists are updated accordingly. Each item on the checklists would be considered Completed. If there is still documentation missing or incomplete, the item would be considered Initiated. As documents are received, the verification counselor reviews the FAFSA data against the documents submitted.
- If additional documentation is still needed or questions arise, the student is requested to see the verification counselor to resolve any discrepancy.
- Depending on the time of year, either another missing information letter is sent or the student is sent an email to their Iona University email account.
- Iona University has a "Verification Counselor" whose main responsibilities are verification. Even though Iona has a designated verification counselor, all counselors can and do handle verification.
Data Elements to be Verified
- Adjusted gross income (AGI)
- U.S. income tax paid
- Education credits
- Untaxed IRA distributions
- Untaxed pensions
- IRA deductions and payments
- Tax-exempt interest
- Other untaxed income
- Income earned from work
- Household size
- Number in college
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
- Child support paid
- High school completion status
- Identity/statement of educational purpose
Verification of IRS Income Tax Return Information for Individuals with Unusual Circumstances
Individuals Granted a Filing Extension by the IRS
If an individual is required to file an IRS income tax return and has been granted a filing extension by the IRS, provide the following documents:
- A copy of the IRS Form 4868, ‘‘Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,’’ that was filed with the IRS; also a copy of the IRS's approval of an extension beyond the automatic six-month extension if the individual requested an additional extension of the filing time; and
- Income Estimate for Tax Filing Extensions Form; and
- A copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received and, if self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the individual’s AGI and the U.S. income tax paid.
Individuals Who Filed an Amended IRS Income Tax Return
If an individual filed an amended IRS income tax return, provide both of the following:
- An IRS Tax Return Transcript; and
- A signed copy of the IRS Form 1040X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” that was filed with the IRS.
Individuals Who Were Victims of IRS Identity Theft
- A victim of IRS identity theft who is not able to obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript or use the IRS DRT must contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1- 800-908-4490 to obtain a Tax Return Data Base View of IRS income tax return information (a TRDBV version transcript.)
- A statement signed and dated by the tax filer indicating that they were victims of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS has been made aware of the tax-related identity theft.
Individuals Who Filed Non-IRS Income Tax Returns
An individual who filed or will file an income tax return with Puerto Rico, another U.S. territory (e.g., Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas Islands), or with a foreign country, must provide a signed copy of the income tax return(s).
In addition to reviewing application and data match information from the CPS, Iona must resolve any other conflicting information, regardless of the source and regardless of whether the student is selected for verification. If we have conflicting information concerning a student's eligibility or any reason to believe a student's application information is incorrect, we must resolve the discrepancies before disbursing FSA funds. If we discover discrepancies after disbursing FSA funds, we must still reconcile the conflicting information and take appropriate action under the specific program requirements. Conflicting information could be but is not limited to the following:
We review all subsequent transactions for a student for the entire processing year, even if we have already verified an earlier transaction.
Discrepant Tax Data
If Iona suspects that a student, employee, or other individual has misreported information or altered documentation to fraudulently obtain federal funds, we report our suspicions and provide any evidence to the Office of Inspector General.
Once a student has completed the Federal Verification Process, an email generated through the Completed Verification Communication is sent in a bulk file, bi-weekly, to acknowledge and confirm the completion of verification to the student's Iona email address.
Revised: January 2016