Federal Verification

What is federal verification?

Financial aid applicants may be selected by either the U.S. Department of Education or the Merrimack College Office of Financial Aid to verify the accuracy of information provided on the FAFSA. You will be notified by our office if you have been selected.

If you are a new student, your offer of assistance is considered tentative, pending the completion of the verification process. If you are a returning student, you will not receive a financial aid offer email notification until the verification process is complete.

What documentation is required?

If selected for verification, you may be required to submit some or all of the following documentation:

  • FAFSA tax filing information for student and parents*
  • IRS Tax Transcript for student and parents
  • W-2s and/or 1099s for all reported earned income
  • Signed non-tax filer statement (if applicable)
  • Statement of Identity/Educational Purpose
  • Other documentation, as required

* Verification of tax filing data can be completed in two ways:  

Option 1: Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when completing FAFSA or submitting a correction online

Instructions on how to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool are provided when completing the FAFSA or filing a correction. Certain data elements such as AGI and taxes paid will be entered for you on the FAFSA.

The financial aid office strongly encourages students and parents to use this option when initially completing the FAFSA, or when making a correction after the required tax returns have been filed.

In order to use the IRS Data Retrieval process, you must have:

  • Filed a federal tax return at least two weeks (if filing electronically) or six to eight weeks (if filing a paper return) before using the IRS Data Retrieval system to allow time for the IRS to process the return.
  • You must have a valid social security number.
  • You must have a Federal Aid Personal Identification Number (PIN).

  You will not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if:

  • Your marital status changes after Dec. 31 of the same tax year.
  • You filed married filing separately.
  • You filed an amended return.
  • You filed a foreign tax return.

Option 2: Submit an official tax transcript

An official tax transcript will be required for tax filers who are not able to use the IRS Data Retrieval process or make changes to FAFSA data after using this process.

Instructions on how to request a free IRS tax transcript can be found here. Tax filers should NOT request to have their IRS tax transcript mailed directly to Merrimack College, as it may not contain the necessary identifying student information.

Verification forms, including required worksheets, are available here for students who have been chosen for verification.

All verification documents should be sent to:
Merrimack College
Office of Financial Aid
315 Turnpike St.
North Andover, MA 01854
Fax: 978-837-5067 

Please be sure to respond to requests for follow-up documentation in a timely manner to avoid delays in receiving your financial aid. Upon receipt of the required materials, we will finalize the review of your application for financial aid.

If documentation is not received by the established deadline, your offer of assistance may be canceled. Should the verified financial information differ significantly from the original information provided on the FAFSA, your financial aid may be revised.

What is the deadline to complete verification?

In order to allow sufficient time for our office to process your verification, we require your documentation to be submitted at least one month before you cease enrollment during the academic year.

What happens if I don’t meet the deadline?

If you do not meet this deadline, we cannot guarantee the availability of your federal, state or need-based institutional funds. Once you are no longer enrolled, or enroll less than half-time, you are no longer eligible for federal direct loans.

What is done with my verification documentation?

Your financial aid counselor will review your documentation to confirm the accuracy of your FAFSA data. If any changes need to be made to your FAFSA, your counselor is required to make these corrections, and you will receive a revised student aid report from the Department of Education. In addition, if any adjustments are made to your financial aid package as a result of verification, you will receive a revised award offer via email.

If there are no changes to your financial package as a result of verification, no new communication will be sent.

Is verification handled differently for new students and returning students? 

For incoming students, financial aid award offers are processed prior to your completing federal verification. However, the award is tentative until verification has been completed. This means that funds will not disburse to your student account until this process has been completed.

For returning students, federal verification must be completed before a financial aid offer email notification will be generated. 

If you are appealing your financial aid, please note that verification must be performed prior to our consideration of your appeal.

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