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Verification is the process by which the Financial Aid Office confirms, through documentation, the accuracy of the information provided on your FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education selects which FAFSAs we are required to verify. The verification process ensures that eligible students receive all the financial aid to which they are entitled and prevents ineligible students from receiving aid to which they are not entitled. 

If your FAFSA was selected for verification, you cannot receive financial aid until all required documents are collected and the process is completed. We will verify the following information: 

  • Adjusted gross income (AGI) 
  • U.S. income tax paid 
  • Untaxed portions of IRA distributions 
  • Untaxed portions of pensions 
  • IRA deductions and payments 
  • Tax-exempt interest income 
  • Education credits 
  • Income earned from work 
  • Household size 
  • Number in college 
  • Identity/statement of educational purpose 

If your FAFSA was selected for verification after you have already received financial aid, please know that your financial aid may change because of verification. 

How to complete Verification

If you are selected for verification, you will be notified through your university email account and directed to Self Service Carolina (SSC) to learn what documents you must submit to the Financial Aid Office. 

If you are a dependent student, you will need complete a Dependent Verification Form and submit your and your parent(s) federal tax return and all W-2s. 

If you are an independent student, you will need complete an Independent Verification Form and submit your (and if you are married, your spouse’s) federal tax return and all W-2s. 

Submitting Federal Tax Information

If you are required to submit tax documents, you have several options: 

  • Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) while logged into your FAFSA. This will transfer your tax information in one easy step. Click here to learn how to use the IRS DRT. 
  • If you are unable to use IRS DRT, submit a signed copy of the first two pages of your 1040 Federal Tax Return and all schedules. 
  • If you are unable to use IRS DRT, you can get a Tax Return Transcript directly from the IRS and submit it to our office. On the IRS website, click on “Get Your Tax Record”. Be sure to order a Tax Return Transcript (not a Tax Account Transcript). All tax transcripts submitted to our office must include the student's name and VIP ID on each page. Click here for more information about requesting a tax transcript. 

If you filed an amended tax return, be sure to submit a signed copy of your original 1040 along with your amended return (1040X). 

If you have filed an extension for your federal taxes, please contact your campus Financial Aid Office so that we can send you the appropriate form to complete verification. 

If you did not file federal taxes, you must submit a Verification of Non-filing Letter, which provides proof that the IRS has no record of a filed Form 1040 for the year you request. This letter is available after June 15 for the current tax year or anytime for the prior three tax years using Get Transcript Online or Form 4506-T. 

Identity and Statement of Educational Purpose

Some students selected for verification may be asked to verify their identity and submit a signed Statement of Identity and Educational Purpose.  To verify their identity, students should appear in person to their Financial Aid Office and present a valid, unexpired, government issued photo ID such as a passport or Real ID or other state issued ID. Note that an ID issued by a state university or college is not sufficient for this purpose. 

Students must also sign a Statement of Educational Purpose that certifies who they are and that the federal student aid they may receive will only be used for educational purposes and for the cost of attending school during the current academic year.  

A student who is unable to appear in person at the Financial Aid Office must have their statement notarized by an authorized notary public who will certify that the student appeared before them with a government-issued photo ID and is the person who signed the Statement of Educational Purpose. The student will then submit the notarized statement along with a copy of their government issued ID. 

What Happens Next?

Once you submit your Verification Form and tax information to the Financial Aid Office, an administrator will compare the information you provided to that on your FAFSA. We are required to resolve any conflicting information so if we discover conflicts or if you have missing or incomplete documentation, we will notify you through your USC email and/or Self Service Carolina (SSC). 

Once verification is complete, we can then determine your eligibility for financial aid. 

April 1 Deadline and Packaging of Financial Aid

Our office begins packaging financial aid in early April. To prevent missing out on any limited funding sources, verification must be complete. This means your requirements on Self Service Carolina must be satisfied by April 1. If you do miss the deadline, be sure to satisfy your requirements as soon as possible. 

Occasionally, students are selected for verification after they have been packaged with financial aid. If this happens, your aid will be placed on hold until verification is done. 

Unusual Enrollment History

The U.S. Department of Education has established regulations to prevent fraud and abuse in the Federal Pell Grant Program by identifying students with unusual enrollment histories. Some students who have an unusual enrollment history (UEH) have legitimate reasons for their enrollment at multiple institutions. However, such an enrollment history requires our office to review your file to determine future federal financial aid eligibility. If selected by the Department of Education after you submit your FAFSA, this must be resolved before you will receive financial aid. 

Definition of Unusual Enrollment History

The specific pattern the Department of Education uses to select students includes those students who have received a Federal Pell Grant at multiple institutions during the past three academic years. Once the Department of Education indicates that a student has an unusual enrollment history, the Financial Aid Office must then take action to review the academic history prior to determining federal financial aid eligibility for that student. 

What Will Be Required of You?

If selected, you will be required to complete the Unusual Enrollment History Form.  We will check your financial aid history at your previous institutions that you attended during the previous three years. You are required to have received academic credit at any institution you received the Federal Pell grant while attending in those relevant academic years. You need to ensure that we have received all official transcripts for schools previously attended. These records were required at the time of admission and must be on file with the Registrar's /Records Office for your financial aid review. Our office will verify the academic credit was received at each institution during the relevant years. If so, we will notify you that you have satisfied this requirement. If you failed to receive academic credit at any institution where you received a Federal Pell Grant at during the relevant award years, your federal financial aid will be denied and you will be notified of the appeal process and/or how to regain eligibility.

If selected, you will be required to complete an Unusual Enrollment History Form and ensure that the university has receive all of the official transcripts for the schools you previously attended. Your transcripts were required when you were admitted and must be on file with the Registrar's/Records Office. 

To determine your eligibility for financial aid, the Financial Aid Office will review your completed Unusual Enrollment History Form and your financial aid history at your prior institutions. If you received a Federal Pell Grant then you must have received academic credit at your prior institution. If you did not earn academic credit during the relevant aid years, then your federal financial aid will be denied and you will be notified of the appeal process and how to regain eligibility. 

Conflicting Information

Students must be careful to submit only accurate information on all forms submitted to the Financial Aid Office. In the scenario that information submitted to the Financial Aid Office conflicts with other information received, additional documentation will be required. Financial Aid cannot be packaged or disbursed until conflicting information is resolved. Both the determination of information conflicting and the resolution of the conflicting information is determined by the Financial Aid Office in conjunction with US Department of Education regulations.

Other Verification Documents

You may be required to submit additional documentation during the verification process. The Federal Processor alerts students to issues on the first page of the Student Aid Report. A “C” placed next to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) indicates issues that need to be resolved. 

You might be requested to provide the following:

  • A copy of your Social Security card
  • A copy of your marriage license
  • Verification of high school completion

If we request the following documents, the student should appear in person and allow the school to review the original document. Scanned or faxed copies of these documents cannot be accepted. We will make a copy for your financial aid file. 

Citizenship papers

  • Alien Registration Card
  • Birth Certificate

Note: If verification becomes necessary after you are initially packaged or after your financial aid has disbursed, your previously offered aid may be placed on hold until your file once again becomes complete.  If you do not complete the verification process any aid disbursed must be cancelled which may result in a balance owed to the university.

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