FAFSA and FAFSA Verification

What is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?

Once you have applied for admission, your next step is to apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required in order for you to be considered for assistance through grants, Federal Work-Study, need-based scholarships, and student loans.

Filing your FAFSA

  • You (and parents as applicable) should apply for a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/fsaid. The FSA ID is used to login to certain federal websites to access financial aid information and to electronically sign federal student aid documents such as the FAFSA.
  • For the 2016-17 award year (Fall 2016, Spring 2017, and Summer 2017), you can complete the FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov beginning January 1, 2016.
    • The 2016-17 FAFSA income information is based on prior year (2015) income.
    • On the FAFSA, enter the MTSU school code of 003510 so that we get the results.
    • If eligible, you (and parents / spouse as applicable) are strongly encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import your 2015 IRS tax information into the FAFSA. Doing so will reduce the chance that MTSU will be required to verify the accuracy of your information. 
    • The 2016-17 MTSU FAFSA filing priority date is March 1, 2016 to be considered for maximum financial aid assistance.
  • For the 2017-18 award year (Fall 2017, Spring 2018, and Summer 2018), you can complete the FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov beginning October 1, 2016. The FAFSA is available three months earlier than in past years!  This will become a permanent change.
    • The 2017-18 FAFSA income information is based on prior-prior year (2015) income rather than prior year (2016), which eliminates the need to estimate tax information. The use of prior-prior year income will become a permanent change.  For example, during the 2018-19 award year, 2016 income information will be reported on the FAFSA.
    • On the FAFSA, enter the MTSU school code of 003510 so that we get the results.
    • If eligible, you (and parents / spouse as applicable) are strongly encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import your 2015 IRS tax information into the FAFSA. Doing so will reduce the chance that MTSU will be required to verify the accuracy of your information. 
    • The 2017-18 MTSU FAFSA filing priority date is January 17, 2017 to be considered for maximum financial aid assistance. However, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible beginning October 1, 2016.

Your Student Aid Report (SAR)

Once you have filed your FAFSA, you will receive a paper or electronic response from the FAFSA processor called the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will give you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and will also list your answers to questions on the FAFSA. It is very important that you review the SAR carefully and make sure that all information is correct as listed!

Your SAR will also include a number called the EFC, or Expected Family Contribution. Based on a federal formula, the EFC is the amount of support the federal government expects you to contribute toward your educational expenses. The EFC is listed on the first page of the Student Aid Report (SAR).

Review your SAR carefully and follow the directions provided to make corrections to any information that is incorrect. Your SAR may also direct you to supply additional or supplementary information to the MTSU Financial Aid Office. Please plan to follow those instructions as quickly as possible, so that we may get your financial files in order well in advance of the semester you plan to attend. Our office will also be reviewing an electronic version of your SAR to see if additional or supplementary information is needed. If additional information is needed, MTSU will contact you via your MTSU email account,

Please respond promptly to all requests from the Federal FAFSA Processor on your Student Aid Report (SAR) and/or to requests directly from MTSU. Unsatisfied requirements can be viewed in the Financial Aid Eligibility section of your RaiderNet account.

Financial aid can't be awarded or paid to your student account unless all requested information and documentation has been submitted and reviewed by the Financial Aid Office. 

FAFSA Verification

If you have been selected for FAFSA verification, you are not alone! Verification is a process by which the federal government asks students and their parents for some additional information to check the accuracy of FAFSA information. If you are selected for verification, MTSU must collect the required documentation and complete the verification process with you before any financial aid can be awarded.

If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will receive an email notification sent to your MT email account instructing you to review your missing requirements. Please respond promptly to all requests for information.You cannot be awarded financial aid until the verification process has been completed.

The best action you can take to help finish verification is to use the IRS data retrieval tool to automatically populate your and your parents’ tax information directly from the IRS when you are initially filing your FAFSA

Some students and/or parents will be ineligible or will choose not to use the IRS data retrieval. In these cases, only the tax return transcript will be accepted as documentation to verify tax information. 

The tax return transcript must be requested directly from the IRS by calling 1-800-908-9946 or visiting the IRS website. Be sure to request the tax return transcript, and not the tax account transcript. Include the student’s MTSU ID number on each page. We cannot accept 1040s to verify tax information.

How will I know if I have been selected for verification?

It is very important that you check your MT Mail account regularly, and that you periodically log in to your RaiderNet account and check the Financial Aid Eligibility section for any unsatisfied requirements and/or requirement messages. If you are selected for verification you will be notified by e-mail to your MT Mail account. You will be directed to your RaiderNet account to review instructions and a list of the documents that must be submitted before financial aid can be awarded.

If selected for verification, what do I need to do? 

Begin by reviewing our document “Completing Verification Requirements”. MTSU may be required to verify any or all of the following data elements on your FAFSA:

  • Adjusted Gross Income for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married)
  • Taxes Paid for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married)
  • Income Earned from Work (for non-tax filers)
  • Certain Untaxed Income items for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married)
  • Household Size
  • Number in College (excluding parents for a dependent student)
  • Receipt of Food Stamps/SNAP Benefit
  • Child Support Paid
  • Any other inconsistent or conflicting information
     

To verify these elements, we may ask for the following documents; however, this is not a complete list. Specific documents requested will be based on your individual case.

  • Copies of the specified year tax transcripts for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married) **See Important Note below
  • A Verification Worksheet (downloadable from this web site)
  • W-2s showing wages for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married)
  • Statement of child support paid
  • Verification of net worth
  • Documentation of Food Stamps/SNAP Benefit
  • Once verification begins, we may need to ask for additional documentation based on the tax transcript.
     

If you are selected for verification, the notification you receive via MT email will direct you to your RaiderNet account to review instructions and a list of the documents that must be submitted before financial aid can be awarded. In general, your requirements may include all or many of the following. However, this is not a complete list, and your individual case may require that we request additional documents to meet all federal requirements.

Data Verification Worksheet: The verification process will begin with filing the correct Verification Worksheet for Dependent or Independent Students. Dependent or Independent status is as defined by the FAFSA.

IRS Data Retrieval Tool:  If you have used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when filing your FAFSA, you will usually not have to submit tax transcripts from the IRS if selected for verification. Most students selected for verification will be able to complete the majority of their requirements by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

You may use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if the federal tax return(s) have been filed, if you have a valid social security number, and if you have a FAFSA PIN number. You cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if your marital status changed as of December 31; if you are married, but filed separate tax returns or filed as Head of Household; or if you filed an amended return. If you filed an amended return, you must submit a signed copy of all pages of the original tax return and W-2 forms or a Tax Return Transcript, and a signed copy of the IRS 1040X form.

Tax Transcript from the IRS:  If you do not, or cannot, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you must submit the tax transcript from the IRS. Students and parents can request a paper copy of their tax return transcript or obtain an online PDF copy of their tax return transcript, wage and income transcripts, and verification of non-filing letter through the IRS website. A tax transcript may also be requested at 1-800-908-9946. 

Didn’t file taxes? If you and/or your parents have not and are not required to file a tax return, you MUST mark this on the Verification Worksheet. All income earned in the tax year must be reported on the FAFSA, even if a tax return is not required. Fully complete this information on the Verification Worksheet. Include the name of each employer, the amount earned for the full calendar year, AND submit a copy of each W-2. If a W-2 is not available, submit a signed statement (preferably on letterhead) from the employer verifying the earnings and explaining of the absence of the W-2.

Verification Opt-Out form: If you have been selected for verification but only wish to receive the Tennessee Lottery Hope Scholarship (and Merit Supplement, if eligible), please submit the Verification Opt-Out form to request your lottery scholarship. Please note that you will not be eligible for any other types of aid unless you complete verification.

I need additional assistance!

We know that filing the FAFSA or being selected for verification can be stressful and time consuming as you work to gather and submit all the required documentation. If you need help with questions or in navigating the process, please contact the MT One Stop.