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Federal Verification: What it Means for You

The Department of Education selects certain FAFSAs for a process called Federal Verification.  When this happens, the Financial Aid Office is required to review additional information for that student before disbursing financial aid.  

The documents required to satisfy verification can be different for each student, so be sure to review the missing information by logging into your MyUpstate account.  You will also receive an email notification letting you know what is required.

Commonly Requested Documents

While each student may have different documentation requirements, here is a list of the most common documents needed. 

Statement of Educational Purpose

This form must be completed either in person with financial aid staff or in the presence of a notary.  Be sure to bring your government issued photo identification.

Tax Information

Dependent students must submit copies of signed tax returns for themselves, if they filed, and their parent(s).  Independent students must submit taxes for themselves and their spouse, if applicable.  Taxes should include all of the tax schedules and copies of the W-2(s) for the tax year. 

If you did not and were not required to file a tax return, you will need to provide documentation of this.  Dependent students indicate their nonfiler status on the verification worksheet.  Independent students, their spouses, and parents of dependent students must  provide a verification of nonfiling letter from the IRS.

Verification Worksheet

Students will supply information about household size and tax filing status on this worksheet.  Dependent students will require a parent signature on the form.

Frequently Asked Questions

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I need to complete a Statement of Educational Purpose, what should I do?

The Statement of Educational Purpose must be completed in person.  Be sure to bring your government issued photo identification with you.  You can schedule an appointment with our office by using the link above.

I am unable to come in person to complete the Statement of Educational Purpose, what should I do?

If you can't come in person to campus, then you must take a BLANK copy of the form to a notary.  Show the notary your original government issued photo identification to prove that you are who you say you are.  Then you must complete the form in front of the notary.  After you have completed the form, the notary must notarize it and put their seal on it.  Make a copy of the government identification you presented to the notary and send the ORIGINAL notarized form and identification copy to our office by mail.  Remember, we must have the notary stamped original form sent to our office, it cannot be scanned or a copy of the original.


Our mailing address is:

Office of Admissions and Financial Aid

Weiskotten Hall Room 1213

766 Irving Ave

Syracuse, NY 13210

How do I request verification of nonfiling?

You can request a copy of your tax return, called a tax return transcript, directly from the IRS online or by mail.   Visit www.IRS.gov and select Get You Tax Record.  Make sure you request a tax RETURN transcript.  We cannot accept a tax account transcript.  If you did not file a tax return, it will display a page that say something along the line of, no record found.  This will meet the requirement for verification of nonfiling.

You requested my tax returns, is there anything else I can send you instead?

The fastest and most secure way to submit your tax information to our office is by returning to the FAFSA and using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).  The DRT will take you to the IRS website and ask for identifying information.  Make sure the address you enter in the IRS DRT matches EXACTLY what you put on your tax return for that year.  For instance, if you put your apartment number in the address line instead of the apartment number box, make sure you enter it the same way on the IRS website.  If your information matches their records, they will import your tax return into your FAFSA.  This will fulfill the tax return requirement.  


We will, however, still need copies of the W2s.

What if I don't have a copy of my taxes?

You can request a copy of your tax return, called a tax return transcript, directly from the IRS online or by mail.   Visit www.IRS.gov and select Get You Tax Record.  Make sure you request a tax RETURN transcript.  We cannot accept a tax account transcript.

I tried to get my tax return at IRS.gov but it wouldn't let me. What should I do?

You can also request a tax return transcript by completing an IRS Form 4506-T and faxing or mailing it directly to the IRS.  This method takes much longer to receive a tax return transcript, generally taking 10-15 business days to receive one by mail.  If you have to request a tax return transcript this way, schedule an advisement with our office to let us know your documents will be delayed and we can help you fill it out properly.

Why do you need my W2s, isn't that already on my taxes?

There is information on the W2 form that is not part of the tax return.  The Department of Education requires that this information be verified during the federal verification process.  If you worked more than one job in a tax year, please be sure to send copies of ALL the W2s you received.  If you are married, we will need your spouse's W2s.  If you are a dependent student, we will need your parent(s)' W2s.

I filed an amended tax return, what do you need?

If you amended your taxes, our office will need a signed copy of the original 1040 tax return AND a signed copy of the 1040X amended tax return that you sent to the IRS.

I was a victim of IRS Tax Related Identity Theft, what documentation should I provide?

If you were the victim of IRS tax-related identity theft, you will need to do the following:

  • Contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490
  • Once you've authenticated the tax filer's identity, the IRS will mail an alternate transcript Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV) of the tax filer's IRS income tax information
  • Provide a signed and dated written statement from the tax filer indicating they were a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS has been made aware of the tax-related identity theft
  • Submit the letter and the TRDBV to our office alone with any W2s

I filed a non-IRS Tax return, do you still need my taxes?

A tax filer who filed an income tax return with Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands may provide a signed copy of the income tax return that was filed with the relevant tax authority.  


If the tax filer filed an income tax return on American Samoa, you must provide a copy of the tax account information.  


If you filed an income tax return with a different country's tax authority, you will need to provide a certified translation of that document.  If you are unable to obtain the tax account information free of charge, you must provide our office with documentation that the tax authority charges a fee to obtain that information along with a signed, translated copy of the tax return filed with the relevant tax authority.

I was not married during the tax year you are asking for, do I still have to send my spouse's tax information

If you (or your parents) were married as of the day the FAFSA was initially submitted, our office will require the tax information of your spouse.  This is also true for parents who have remarried to a person that is not the student's other biological parent.  Please submit step-parent taxes and W2s along with the rest of the documentation.

I am worried about sending you sensitive tax documents, do I really have to?

It is a good idea to protect your sensitive information well.  If you wish to redact the social security numbers or bank account information from the tax return, this is acceptable.  Please make sure to indicate the student's full name and ID number somewhere on the documents so we know who's file to attach them to.