Students who submit a FAFSA may be selected by the U.S. Department of Education for a process called Verification. Students are notified that they have been selected for verification on the Student Aid Report that is generated from the Department of Ed after the FAFSA is submitted. Students will also be notified by the University of Houston-Downtown that there are additional documents required in order to complete the financial aid process. Students will not be awarded a financial aid package until verification is complete.
When a student is selected for verification, the University will compare information from your FAFSA with student and parent (if required) financial aid tax documents. By law, we have the right to ask you for this information before awarding federal aid. Any differences between your application and your documents may require us to make corrections or updates on your behalf.
What to submit
- Institutional Verification Form — this form is created by the University and students must fill out each section of the required information. Incomplete forms will not be accepted. Students should list everyone in their household according to the instructions on the form. No spaces should be left blank. The form requires the student signature and the parent signature (if dependent). Please see the form for further instructions.
- Tax Data — the student (and parent, if necessary) must submit actual tax documents in order for verification to be completed. The student has two options when submitting tax data:
- IRS Data Retrieval Tool — The Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is a function available to students through the FAFSA application that is designed to allow students to import their tax data from the IRS directly to the FAFSA electronically. We prefer that students use the IRS DRT as the easiest way to input tax data and avoid mistakes. Not all students are eligible to use the Data Retrieval Tool. If you are ineligible or choose not to use the DRT to provide tax information for verification purposes, you must submit a paper tax return transcript.
- Tax Return Transcript — Once taxes have been filed and processed through the IRS, the IRS produces a detailed, line-by-line transcript of the information that was submitted. The tax return transcript can only be retrieved directly from the IRS. There is no charge for obtaining a tax return transcript. There are three options to receive the tax transcript:
- Online—Download or request the tax return transcript as a PDF (preferred method)
- Visit www.irs.gov and click Get Transcript of Your Tax Returns
- Click Get Transcript ONLINE
- Follow the instructions to download a PDF of your tax return transcript
- You may also click on Get Transcript by MAIL to request for a copy to be sent by regular mail
- By Phone — Call (800)908-9946 to request a copy of your tax return transcript be faxed or mailed to you.
- In person — Students or parents can visit the local IRS office in downtown Houston to request a tax return transcript.
- 1919 Smith St., Houston, TX 77002
- W2s — If the student or parent did not file taxes, but reported wages earned, the W2 must be submitted along with the Institutional Verification Form in order to confirm the amount of wages earned.
- Other documents — On occasion, students are asked to submit additional documentation or forms based on the various types of verification. All required documents will appear as outstanding requirements on the student’s MyUHD account. See How to Check my Financial Aid Status for instructions on how to check for outstanding documents.
Once you have provided all required documents to our office, please allow 2-4 weeks for processing and award notification.
Common Errors to Avoid
Verification can be a confusing and complex process. Avoiding common errors will help make sure that the process is smooth and all documents are submitted correctly.
- Read and follow all instructions carefully. The instructions on the forms are very clear and are meant to assist students with completing all items correctly. Reading the instructions carefully and asking for clarification, if necessary, will help to avoid many common errors.
- Dependent versus Independent requirements. Dependent students are required to provide both student and parent information on the FAFSA, Institutional Verification Form, and both student and parent tax documents. Parents should also be included as part of the household on Step 1 of the Institutional Verification Form. If you are unsure if you are dependent or independent, please contact our office.
- Missing Signatures. Student and spouse or parent (if applicable) signatures are required on all verification forms. If a signature is missing, the form is considered incomplete.
- Tax Return Transcripts. The university requires that students and parents submit Tax Return Transcripts for the verification process. This document is different from the 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ that may have originally been submitted to the IRS. See the What to Submit section above for information on how to obtain a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS.
- Financial Information. The Institutional Verification Form requires that students and parents list wages earned, even if the individual did not file taxes. If the student or parent earned wages, but did not file taxes a W2 is required. If there are questions about the financial information that is requested, please contact our office.