Federal Verification
As of March 10, 2017, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool has been unavailable for applicants completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). This feature will not return for the 2017-2018 FAFSA. In lieu of using this tool, you may submit a signed copy of your 2015 Federal Tax Return or a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS.

At A Glance:

  • What is Federal Verification?
  • Why was I selected?
  • What is the next step?

What is Federal Verification?

Verification is the process schools are required to use to confirm the data reported on a student’s FAFSA. The University of Pennsylvania is required to ensure the information submitted on the FAFSA is accurate and consistent. The University is also required to resolve any conflicting information, inconsistencies or errors made on FAFSA applications to ensure the integrity of federal student financial aid programs.

Why was I selected?

A student’s FAFSA may be selected for verification if:

  • the IRS Data Retrieval option was not or could not be used on the FAFSA 

  • the FAFSA was completed using estimated income/asset information or the income/asset information is inconsistent (i.e. reported adjusted gross income is less than taxes paid)

  • the FAFSA was completed for a dependent student and the parental federal tax filing status and parental marital status doesn't match 

  • the new year FAFSA data does not match the prior year income and asset FAFSA data

In this process, Penn will be comparing information from your FAFSA application with copies of your and your parent’s Federal tax transcripts, W2 forms, or other financial documents. The law states we have the right to ask you for this information before awarding Federal aid. If there are differences between your FAFSA application information and your financial documents, you or the university may need to make corrections electronically or by using your Student Aid Report (SAR).

It is important to complete the verification worksheet and submit along with all required documents to Student Financial Services (SFS) immediately, as Federal need-based aid awarded is estimated until this process is complete.

Failure to complete verification in a timely manner may lead to cancellation of aid. Upon review of the documentation you submit, additional information may be required; notification of such will be made as quickly as possible. You will be notified if FAFSA corrections result in changes/cancellation of award(s).

What are the next steps?

  1. Submit the completed Verification Worksheet signed by both the student and parent.
    • If you are an Independent student, a parent signature is not required.

  2. Submit Federal Tax Transcript(s) and W2 forms for both student and parent(s), if filed.
    • If you are an Independent student, your spouse’s information may also be required.

The best way to verify income is by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) that is part of FAFSA on the web at

You can obtain a “Federal Tax Return Transcript” by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946 or visit and click on the “Get a tax transcript” link. Make sure to request the “IRS Tax Return Transcript” and NOT the “IRS Tax Account Transcript.

In most cases, for electronic filers, a IRS Tax Return Transcript may be requested from the IRS within 2-3 weeks after the IRS income tax return has been accepted by the IRS. Generally, for filers of paper IRS income tax returns, the Tax Transcript may be requested within 8-11 weeks after the paper return has been received by the IRS.


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