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Undergraduate Financial Aid


Frequently Asked Questions about Federal Verification

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education selects a number of financial aid applications for review. This process of review is called  verification . If you are selected for federal verification, we are required to confirm that the information you submitted on your application is true and correct, which means we must ask you for additional documentation.

Use this page to find the answers to your questions about Federal Verification, using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, obtaining a Tax Return Transcript, and special tax situations. If you have further questions, please contact us.

General Verification Questions

How will I know if I'm selected?

If you've been selected for verification, we'll send you an email. This email will outline the steps you'll need to take to complete the process. Please note: we can only send emails regarding verification to students, not parents.

What will I need to submit?

If selected, you (and your parents, if applicable) will need to submit one or more of the following items:

  • Verification Worksheet
  • 2015 student and/or parent tax return transcripts (obtained directly from the IRS)
  • 2015 student and/or parent W-2s

Log into PioneerWeb and review the "Financial Aid Requirements" box on the Student tab to determine exactly what we need, as not all documents are required of all students. Prospective students should log into to view requirements.

When is the deadline to submit verification documents?

As soon as possible! We are not able to generate an award package for you until the verification process is complete.

How can I confirm that you have received my documents?

Current students can confirm receipt of documents through the "Financial Aid Requirements" box on the Student tab of PioneerWeb. Prospective students should review the Financial Aid checklist by logging into Please allow 2-3 business days for PioneerWeb to reflect documents received (it may take longer in March and April). Documents we have received will have either a small clock or a green check mark next to them. However, the "Verification Process" requirement will remain unsatisfied, and have a red flag, until your documents have been reviewed by a staff member.

These documents contain very personal information. How secure will they be?

We take your privacy very seriously. Once received, all documents are scanned into the University's secure system and then hard copies are shredded. The most secure way to submit documents to our office is to upload them through PioneerWeb or the admission application status page . As required by the federal government, all documents are kept for seven years and then purged.

What happens after I submit these documents?

During verification, we compare your financial aid application to your federal tax return transcript data and the other financial documents you submit to our office. We update estimated data items and ensure that all information reported is accurate. If our review reveals any inaccuracies, we automatically correct your financial aid application. Changes may result in a change in your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). A financial aid staff member will contact you if there is need for clarification or if additional documents are required to complete the verification process.

How long does it take Financial Aid to review my file?

Please allow three weeks for verification to be completed once you have submitted all documents. During peak volume—November through March—processing time may be longer. A staff member will contact you if there is need for clarification or if additional documents are required to complete the review process. After verification is complete, we will create a financial aid award package for you.

I know I am only eligible for an Unsubsidized Federal Direct loan or a Federal Direct Parent/Graduate PLUS loan. Do I still need to turn these documents in?

Verification is not required if you do not wish to apply for any need-based assistance, plan to take part only in the Unsubsidized Federal Direct loan or Federal Direct Parent/Graduate PLUS loan programs, or you are certain you will not attend DU. Contact our office directly if any of these circumstances apply.

IRS Data Retrieval Questions

Most students and/or their parents will be required to submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript if selected for federal verification. Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to correct your FAFSA, however, may eliminate the need to submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript.

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students and parents to access the tax return information needed to complete the FAFSA, and then import that data directly into their FAFSA from the IRS website.

Who can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Most students and parents who filed their tax returns as Single or Married Filing Jointly will be eligible to use this tool. If any of the following apply to you, you may not be eligible to utilize IRS data retrieval:

  • You filed taxes as married filing separately
  • You are married and you filed taxes as Head of Household
  • You filed an amended tax return
  • You filed an electronic tax return less than three weeks ago
  • You filed a paper tax return less than eight weeks ago
  • Your address on the FAFSA is different from the address on your 2015 Tax Return
  • Your current marital status is different than it was in 2015
  • You filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return
  • Parent Marital status is “unmarried and both parents living together” (parent unable to use tool)
I am ineligible to use data retrieval. Now what?

If you have been selected for verification and are ineligible to use data retrieval, you must submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript in order to receive a financial aid package. 

Why should I use it?

Three reasons:

  1. You won’t have to manually enter your tax data in order to make corrections to what you initially entered.
  2. Using data retrieval reduces your chance of being selected for verification.
  3. If you are selected for verification, correcting your FAFSA using data retrieval may eliminate the need to submit a tax return transcript.
So if I've been selected for verification, I won't have to submit a tax return transcript if I correct my FAFSA using data retrieval?

If you are eligible, using data retrieval to update your FAFSA may eliminate the need to submit an IRS tax return transcript. Once your FAFSA has been corrected, please wait an additional 3-4 business days for processing; then feel free to contact us to see if a transcript is still required.

When will my tax return data be available to use with the IRS Data Retrieval tool?

Generally, if you filed your return electronically, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool in 2-3 weeks. If you filed a paper return, you'll need to allow 8-11 weeks before using it. More detailed information is available through

How do I use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Please refer to our Guide to Using IRS Data Retrieval for step-by-step instructions.

I tried to use IRS data retrieval, but nothing populated in my FAFSA. Why isn't it working?

This may happen for a number of reasons:

  • If you have recently filed, the IRS may not have the data processed and available yet. You should wait 2-3 weeks if you filed electronically or 8-11 weeks if you filed a paper return before using data retrieval.
  • Your address must match the address on your tax return. Verify that the address you entered in the FAFSA is exactly the same—both spelling and abbreviations—as the address on your tax return.
  • If your tax return indicates you have an amount owed and you have not yet paid the full tax owed, the IRS has not yet processed your return, and won’t process it until full payment is made. You will not be eligible to use the tool until both your tax return and payment have been processed by the IRS.
I successfully used IRS data to correct my FAFSA, but my untaxed pension or untaxed IRA distribution rollover was incorrectly imported. What should I do?

Do not change the data imported into the FAFSA. Please submit a signed note to our office indicating the amount of the rollover, and we will remove that amount on the FAFSA for you.

Tax Return Transcript Questions

I was selected for federal verification and need to submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript. What are my options?

You have two options:

  1. Correct your FAFSA using the IRS data retrieval tool, which will import your tax information directly into your application. Not everyone will be eligible to use this option. For more information about using this tool, please review our Guide to Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or review the frequently asked questions listed above. If you successfully used IRS data retrieval to correct your FAFSA, please wait 3-4 business days for processing, then feel free to contact us to see if a tax return transcript is still required.
  2. If you are ineligible to use data retrieval, you must submit a copy of your IRS Tax Return Transcript.
Can I submit my tax return (1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) instead of a tax return transcript?

No. Federal regulations require us to collect IRS Tax Return Transcripts for students who have been selected for federal verification (unless you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool). We cannot accept copies of your tax return unless you have been instructed specifically to do so by a financial aid advisor.

How do I obtain a tax return transcript?

You can request your transcript directly from the IRS website. Go to, click on “Get a Tax Transcript.” It typically takes 5-10 days for the transcript to be mailed to you.

Do I need to sign my tax return transcript before submitting it to Financial Aid?

No. Signing your tax transcript is not required.

How long must I wait after filing my taxes before a tax return transcript is available?

If you filed your tax return electronically, it takes about 3 weeks before a transcript becomes available. If you mailed your tax return, it takes about 6 weeks. If you didn't pay all of the tax you owe, your transcript may not be available until mid-May, or a week after you pay the full amount owed. You can find additional information about the availability of tax transcripts at

The IRS has informed me that my tax return transcript is unavailable or they cannot locate it. What should I do?
  • Be sure you waited long enough after you filed your return (see question above).
  • Did you file a joint return? If so, make sure you are listing the primary tax filer’s information when requesting the tax return transcript.
  • Do you have an unpaid amount due to the IRS? If so, there will be a delay in processing. Pay your tax liability as soon as possible, wait about two weeks, and then request a tax return transcript.
  • Check to make sure you have entered your address exactly as you did when you filed your taxes.
  • If none of the above applies, you may need to use the Get Transcript by Mail option or submit
    Form 4506-T.
Can I have my tax return transcript sent directly to DU?

Yes, you may submit Form 4506T-EZ to have your transcript mailed directly to DU. We don’t recommend it, however.  Using this form significantly increases the amount of time it takes for DU to receive your transcript (which will delay your financial aid package), and it’s much more difficult to track its location.

Special Tax Situations

I've been selected for federal verification but haven't filed my tax return yet. What should I do?

Due to federal regulations, we cannot complete the verification process without your tax return transcript. This means we are also unable to finalize any financial aid award packages until your tax return is completed and filed with the IRS. Please file your return as soon as possible!

I'm a business owner. What should I submit?

If you submit a tax return transcript, we won't need any additional documentation (other than the items listed in PioneerWeb, such as a verification worksheet). However, if you use data retrieval to correct your FAFSA, you will need to submit a copy of your Schedule C and/or 1099s and/or K-1.

I filed an amended tax return. What should I submit?

You will need to submit signed copies of both your original tax return (the return you filed prior to the amended changes) and your amended return (Form 1040X).

I was granted a filing extension by the IRS. What should I do?

Please submit a signed copy of Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) and all your W-2 forms. If you are self-employed, please submit a signed statement with the amount of your Adjusted Gross Income and your U.S. income taxes paid instead of a W-2.

If you were granted a filing extension, we may ask you to submit your tax transcript after your return has been filed with the IRS in the fall. Any adjustments we need to make to your application at that time may also result in a change to your financial aid award. We will send you an email if additional documentation is needed at a later date.

I still owe taxes for 2015, and the IRS won’t give me a copy of my tax return transcript. What should I do?

Please pay your tax liability as soon as possible, wait about 2-3 weeks, and then request your tax return transcript from the IRS. We cannot accept alternative documentation for students and/or parents who owe taxes.

I filed a foreign tax return. What should I do?

If you filed your return with a government that can provide a transcript of your return, please provide that transcript. Otherwise, please submit a signed copy of your foreign return. Contact our office for more information.

I am a non-tax filer. What should I submit?

If you were not required to file taxes for 2015, you’ll still need to complete and submit a Verification Worksheet. Check the box that says you did not and were not required to file, and submit a copy of your W-2(s) and unemployment documents (if applicable). If you did not receive a W-2, indicate your total earnings on the verification worksheet. If you didn't keep a copy of your W-2(s), please contact your employer(s) to request duplicates.

I am a victim of Identity Theft, and am unable to obtain a copy of my tax return transcript. What should I do?

If you are a victim of Identity Theft, you must contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490 to obtain tax return data base view (TRDBV) transcript. The IRS will provide you with information and instructions. Once you receive your 2015 Tax Return Transcript, submit it to our office.