General Question

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Is it unheard of for a financial aid department to request personal tax information?

Asked by shpadoinkle_sue (7188points) August 16th, 2010

I was turning in a data sheet form to financial aid today and they began processing it. The clerk asked me a few times if I was persuing a bachelor’s degree. I said no, because the program I’m going into only gives out certificates. He told me that I had to fill out another form. Surprise, surprise. I guess FAFSA took some information the wrong way and now I’ve got to change that. That’s no problem. The new form is called a Federal Verification form and, with it, I’ve got to turn in a copy of my 2009 tax return. That’s the part that worries me. It has personal information on it that I’d like to stay with me only. I have no idea what they need it for. FAFSA already asked me for that stuff. If I have to, I have to. It just sounds odd to me. Financial aid says that I can’t that the copies back after they’ve scanned them and that they’d shred it afterwards. Honestly, I take no comfort in that. Is this a rare thing or does it seem like standard practice? I did ask the guy why I didn’t have to do it last year and he said that it changes every year.

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15 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

I never had to do that, but when I googled the verification form, I found this sounds like they decided to verify the information on your application and that is why they want your tax documents. From this, it sounds like if you don’t do it, they can deny your financial aid.

llewis's avatar

I’ve always had to provide tax returns for financial aid, for myself and later for my daughter.

wundayatta's avatar

We had to do it when we applied for financial aid for our kids.

They need to know your income, and they figure that a tax return is unlikely to be faked. Also, you know that if they catch you lying, you’ll lose a lot. However, if you want to, you can fake a tax return pretty easily using tax software.

I don’t advise it, though. I wouldn’t worry too much about it either. If they spread the information around, they lose all credibility, too.

lillycoyote's avatar

I think it is pretty standard procedure as far as I know, though it has been some time since I have applied for financial aid for schooling. They need to have some way to determine if your income qualifies you for financial aid and your tax returns are pretty much the best way to determine your income and thus, whether or not your income or lack thereof qualifies you for financial aid.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

They hand out financial aid based on your Estimated Family Contribution, which is decided based on your (or, if you’re under 24, your parents) income. You cannot get financial aid from the government without giving them your tax return, and using that info to fill out the FAFSA.

If it’s any consolation, the government really already has your SSN, tax returns, etc, so you aren’t giving them any new information. The only way to really avoid giving a school this info is to go to a private institution and get no financial aid at all – and even then, you will have to give them your SSN.

Also, in order to receive financial aid, you must be “degree seeking”. Check with your school to find out if a certificate counts. If not, you may want to consider becoming “degree seeking” for much of your schooling so that you can get the aid you need, and then just get the certificate instead.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@py_sue Is it that they want the information off your tax forms or that they want physical copies of those forms? I’ve always had to give the information off my forms, but never had to given them copies of the actual forms. If it’s just giving the information, that’s normal. Giving them copies of the forms seems to be so that they can verify your information.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

They want the copies. The guy said it was just in case FAFSA asked for it.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@py_sue If you had to fill out the Verification form, there’s a chance that, at least for financial aid, you’re being “audited”, as it were, and they think there’s some sort of discrepancy.

Zaku's avatar

Maybe you can show them the summary page(s) without whatever details you want to avoid sharing. And/or maybe you can request that someone confirm the information they want without having them need to hold a copy of all of your info.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The request for FASFA verification is supposed to come from FASFA and not the college. I would ask to speak to the registrar or the head of financial aid, or call FASFA and confirm the process before turning over more detailed personal information.

Afos22's avatar

It has to be normal. They did it to me twice already.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I have to call FAFSA anyway because I tried to change my information and it refuses to save it.
@Zaku There’s no reason why I should be audited. I haven’t done anything. School hasn’t started yet. I’m extra panicked because I’m in a program where I can be kicked out for pretty much anything. They didn’t notify my I was in the program until after the fin aid deadline was past. If I was being audited, they’d suspend the money.
@BarnacleBill That’s what would make sense to me. I have to go back tomorrow and resubmit the information.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The link I posted to the Sally Mae site includes the following:

Chosen for verification?
You are not alone: At least 30% of FAFSAs are selected for verification.

If you’ve been selected, an asterisk ( * ) will appear after your EFC number on your Student Aid Report (SAR). Read the instructions in the SAR on what to do next.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

They request them on 25 percent of all aid requests. Standard procedure.

BratLady's avatar

@papayalily- I was shocked when my son’s fiance’ said even though she doesn’t live with her parents, she has to provide their tax records to recieve a grant. She’s not 24 yet. Seems to me they would just use her tax records since she hasn’t lived with parents in 4 years.

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