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Financial Aid Verification

What is verification?

Each year, the Federal U.S. Department of Education selects certain applicants for verification. The verification process requires the SUNY Potsdam Financial Aid office to confirm the data provided by the student and/or parent(s) on the FAFSA. Although the University cannot determine who will be selected for verification each year, students should anticipate selection. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you must submit all requested documentation to our office for review. Failure to provide required documentation by stated deadlines may negatively impact your financial aid award package.  If verification reveals errors on the FAFSA, correction of those errors by SUNY Potsdam Financial Aid staff may result in changes to the student’s financial aid types and/or amounts.  Federal Aid eligibility is considered unofficial until the verification process is completed.

Who is selected for verification?

Approximately 30 percent of all financial aid applicants are selected by the Federal government for verification. Students are normally selected at random; however, they may be selected if their FAFSA appears to have inconsistent information, numerous corrections have been submitted to FAFSA data; or, if estimated tax information was used to complete the FAFSA.

What items are required by law to be verified?

Applicants selected for verification are required to confirm some or all of the following information:

  • Household size (as defined on the FAFSA) of student, parent(s) and siblings or student and spouse (if married)
  • Number of family members enrolled at least half time and pursuing a degree/certificate in college
  • Food stamps – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – if receipt is reported on FAFSA
  • Child support paid – if reported on the FAFSA
  • Income earned from work – provide W-2 form(s)

Tax filers selected for verification are required to confirm the following information via the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Process or providing an IRS generated tax return transcript:

  • Adjusted Gross Income
  • U.S. Income Tax Paid
  • Untaxed IRA Distributions
  • Untaxed Pension Distributions
  • IRA Deductions/Payments
  • Tax Exempt Interest
  • Education Credits

In addition, selected applicants are required to provide:

  • Documentation of a high school diploma, recognized equivalent or home school credentials
  • A copy of valid (e.g., unexpired) government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or military ID
  • A signed Statement of Educational Purpose

What happens once I submit all verification documents?

After all requested information is submitted to the Financial Aid Office, the student’s file will be reviewed. If we have further questions, the student will be contacted for additional clarification. It is the student’s responsibility to respond to these requests for information. Failing to do so will result in an incomplete file, which will delay the College’s ability to confirm federal aid eligibility.

If corrections need to be made to your FAFSA, the Financial Aid Office will make them on your behalf. The Central Processing System (FAFSA processor) will notify you of the changes via the email you provided on the FAFSA or U.S. mail if no email address was indicated.  If the student’s aid eligibility changes, the SUNY Potsdam Financial Aid office will notify the student via campus email account.

Verification Deadlines

All requested documents must be received within 120 days of the student’s last date of attendance.  The Financial Aid office recommends that students submit required documents as soon as requested.  Federal aid is considered unofficial until verification review is completed.

Verification Tips

Be sure to:

  • Observe verification deadlines.
  • Submit verification documents as early as possible after receipt of request by the SUNY Potsdam Financial Aid office.
  • Provide all necessary signatures on verification worksheet (both student and parent if dependent).
  • Keep copies of all documents you submit.
  • Include the student’s name and SUNY Potsdam ID number on every form submitted to our office.
  • Request your income tax data be imported via the IRS Data Retrieval Process at; thus, eliminating the need for a tax transcript.

Verification of 2015 Income Information for Individuals with Unusual Circumstances

  1. Individuals Granted a Filing Extension by the IRS

    An individual who is required to file a 2015 IRS income tax return and has been granted a filing extension by the IRS, must provide:
  • A copy of IRS Form 4868, ‘‘Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,’’ that was filed with the IRS for tax year 2015;
  • 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 for tax year 2015;
  • Verification of Non-filing Letter (confirmation that the tax return has not yet been filed) from the IRS or other relevant tax authority dated on or after October 1, 2016;
  • A copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2015 and,
  • If self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the individual’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and the U.S. income tax paid for tax year 2015.
  1. Individuals Who Filed an Amended IRS Income Tax Return

    An individual who filed an amended IRS income tax return for tax year 2015 must provide:
  • A 2015 IRS Tax Return Transcript (that will only include information from the original tax return and does not have to be signed), or any other IRS tax transcript(s) that includes all of the income and tax information required to be verified; and
  • A signed copy of the 2015 IRS Form 1040X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” that was filed with the IRS.
  1. Individuals Who Were Victims of IRS Tax-Related Identity Theft

    An individual who was the victim of IRS tax-related identity theft must provide:
  • Copy of the determination by the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit that
  • A Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV) transcript obtained from the IRS, or any other IRS tax transcript(s) that includes all of the income and tax information required to be verified; and
  • A statement signed and dated by the tax filer indicating that he or she was a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS is aware of the tax-related identity theft, and that the tax filer has contacted the IRS.
  1. Individuals Who Filed Non-IRS Income Tax Returns
  • A tax filer who filed an income tax return with Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands may provide a signed copy of his or her income tax return that was filed with the relevant tax authority. However, if we question the accuracy of the information on the signed copy of the income tax return, the tax filer must provide us with a copy of the tax account information issued by the relevant tax authority before verification can be completed.
  • A tax filer who filed an income tax return with the tax authority for American Samoa must provide a copy of his or her tax account information.
  • A tax filer who filed an income tax return with tax authorities not mentioned above, i.e. a foreign tax authority, and who indicates that he or she is unable to obtain the tax account information free of charge, must provide documentation that the tax authority charges a fee to obtain that information, along with a signed copy of his or her income tax return that was filed with the relevant tax authority.