Each year, the federal government requires schools participating in the distribution of financial aid to verify the accuracy of data submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
To complete verification, applicants are asked to submit federal tax documents and/or complete some forms and submit them to the Office of Student Financial Aid.
Who is selected?
Any student who completes a FAFSA may be chosen for verification.
If you have agreed to conduct financial aid processes electronically by providing eConsent on myZou, the request for verification documents will be sent to your MU e-mail address. Otherwise, the request will be sent through the U.S. Postal Service. If you have electronically consented but have not yet been assigned an MU e-mail address, we will use U.S. mail until your e-mail account has been activated.
Parent on FAFSA
Dependent students are instructed to file the FAFSA with his/her legal parents, biological and/or adoptive. Grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, and aunts and uncles are not a parent on the FAFSA unless they have legally adopted the student. Visit our parents and families page for additional guidance on who is considered a parent on the FAFSA.
Timeline & Deadline
Please allow two weeks for the verification process to be completed. The process might take longer if we receive incomplete documents or require additional information. Sometimes, we require clarification on forms you submit, which could also delay processing if you do not respond in a timely manner.
Your financial aid funds cannot be applied to your MU account until verification has been completed. Return the requested documents to us as soon as possible.
Verification must be completed before the last month of the semester to allow processing time for your financial aid.
If someone has filed an extension, we can complete verification with the following:
- Non-expired Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (IRS form 4868)
- A SIGNED draft of your federal tax return
- W2(s) (if applicable)
After October 15, when extensions are due to the IRS, we will no longer accept the above documents to complete verification. You will need to request your tax return transcript from the IRS or use the IRS data retrieval tool on the FAFSA. If your file was verified based on an extension, you will still be asked to submit a Tax Return Transcript or use the Data Retrieval Tool at a later date (prior to spring disbursement).
Some applicants will be required to submit copies of signed Federal Tax Returns and W-2s. This is a requirement from the U.S. Department of Education to guarantee the accuracy of the information reported on the FAFSA to ensure federal aid is awarded properly.
If you would prefer to submit a copy of your IRS Tax Return Transcript, you can call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946. You can either request that the IRS send the transcript directly to MU, or have it mailed to your home. For instructions on how to request a Tax Return Transcript online or how to request a Tax Return Transcript by mail, go to irs.gov/transcript. If you filed your return electronically, you should be able to request a copy within 2-3 weeks. If you filed a paper return, you should be able to request a copy within 8-10 weeks.
Applicants required to submit IRS federal tax information have the option of logging back into their FAFSA and using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This will fulfill the IRS federal tax information request. However, not all applicants can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
If any of the following apply to the applicant, then they cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and will have to submit an signed Federal Tax Return to the Office of Student Financial Aid:
- Parents with all zeros for SSN
- Any student or parent with a marital status date of January 1, 2014 or later
- Any student or parent who indicates they have not already filed a tax return or will not file a tax return
- A married independent applicant and spouse who filed separate returns
- Parents of a dependent student who filed separate tax returns
- The applicant, parent, or spouse, as applicable, who have filed an amended return
If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and alter the data, you will be required to submit a copy of the signed Federal Tax Return.
After the initial verification document request has been met, the Office of Student Financial Aid will compare the information provided on the FAFSA and might ask for additional information if we find discrepancies that cannot be explained.
Visit our Verification Forms page for additional resources. Note: Some financial aid forms are updated annually. Check the date on the form to make sure it matches the academic year for which you’re applying for aid.
Troubleshooting E-Forms for Verification
If you are trying to complete one of the verification forms that are available online, and encounter issues with it not being accessible, please try the following:
- Clear your cookies and cache and make sure you don’t have your pop up blocker on, then try again
- If you are a parent trying to complete your portion of the form, please make sure that:
- You are logging in to AAA as yourself and not as your student
- You are reviewing data in AAA for the correct student if you have multiple students at MU
- Your student has fully submitted their part first, as you will not be able to access your part until they do
Click below for a PDF guide we’ve created to help you through the verification process:
If you are still having trouble after reviewing the information above, please contact our office for further assistance.
Victims of Fraud
If you are selected for verification and you or your parent are believed to be a victim of Identity Theft and cannot request a tax return transcript, follow these steps:
- The tax filer must call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490
- Signed and dated statement from the tax filers indicating that he or she was a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft (Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit).
- Upon authentication of the tax filer’s identity, the IRS will provide the tax information to you
- Submit the tax information to the financial aid office to complete verification
If an amended tax return was filed, to complete verification, we need the following:
- A copy of the tax return transcript, which can be ordered online
- A signed copy of the 1040X that was filed with the IRS
The Office of Student Financial Aid will correct any inaccuracies and resubmit your FAFSA to the Central Processing System (CPS). CPS will then send you an updated Student Aid Report (SAR). If you have received a financial aid package before completing verification, your aid eligibility will be reevaluated by your financial aid adviser after verification has been completed. You will be notified if your awards change after verification.