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Verification

If you have been notified by the FAFSA CPS (Central Processing System) that your FAFSA was selected for verification: please wait for email communication from Columbia International University (CIU) regarding whether or not you need to complete verification with us.

Deadline for completing verification: There is no formal deadline; however, we encourage you to submit the required verification documents as soon as reasonably possible.

NOTE: If you do not complete the verification process, you forfeit eligibility for federal student aid, need-based state aid and CIU need-based aid.

1. What is verification?

Verification is a review process which documents select data elements of a student's FAFSA. Each year the U.S. Department of Education randomly selects approximately 30% of FAFSAs filed across the nation for verification. In this FAFSA review, the financial aid staff compares the FAFSA with information provided in the required verification documents, including IRS tax data. If discrepant information is discovered, CIU will update the FAFSA and send the corrected FAFSA to CPS for reprocessing. Additionally, financial aid awards will be recalculated using the updated FAFSA and its EFC calculation. 

Note: If you are selected for verification, you cannot receive any of your federal, need-based state aid or CIU need-based aid until the verification process is completed.

2. How are FAFSA records chosen for verification?

A student's FAFSA record can be selected based on:

  • verification selection criteria determined by Columbia International University each year (required as part of our participation in the US Department of Education's Quality Assurance Program) 
  • irregularities of data
  • random selection

3. What happens if I am selected?

Any student selected for verification is required to submit the appropriate documentation to validate the information provided on their FAFSA. Once all required documents are received, the financial aid staff will complete the verification review. Any discrepancies found during the verification review process will be corrected on the FAFSA and reprocessed through the FAFSA CPS. Additionally, the student's financial aid package will be recalculated using the updated FAFSA and its EFC calculation.

4. How will I be notified if my FAFSA record has been selected for verification?

Typically, students can expect to receive notification they have been selected for verification within 10 to 14 business days after the Financial Aid Office receives the student’s FAFSA results from CPS. (Note: CIU will not start requesting FAFSA information from the federal processor until early March).  The Financial Aid Office will send a missing information email to students who have been selected for verification. The missing information email will direct the student to submit several required documents.

5. What documentation will be required?

Generally, documentation will consist of signed copies of the completed and signed appropriate CIU requested forms. Some exceptions to documentation may be made in conjunction with what is allowed by Federal Regulation.  The Federal Department of Education has instituted some changes to the verification process regarding income-tax return data as follows:

  • Students and parents can no longer submit a signed paper copy of the IRS 1040 as a way to confirm the income reported on the FAFSA.
  • When completing the income sections of the FAFSA, the applicant is given the option to have this data retrieved directly from the IRS.
  • If the applicant decides not to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and the application is chosen for verification, the applicant and the parents, if applicable, will be required to submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript.
  • If the IRS tax retrieved information is changed on the FAFSA, the applicant will be required to submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript.
  • However, the IRS data can be retrieved by the applicant when a correction is made to the FAFSA, after the first submission.
  • If the retrieved data is not changed, then an IRS Tax Return Transcript will not be required.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool can be used after the first Tuesday in February, every year. The applicant must have the previous year’s IRS Tax Return on file with the IRS.

Non-Tax Filers:

If an IRS 1040 will not and is not required to be filed, then the filers must affirm and attest that an IRS 1040 has not and will not be filed and that the IRS 1040 is not required to be filed.  Copies of all W-2 forms from all employers must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid at CIU.

Applicants filing a Puerto Rico tax return or a foreign tax return may not use the IRS Tax Retrieval and must send a copy of their previous year’s tax documents.

Important: Please submit all requested forms and supporting documentation requested as no processing can take place until all documentation is received.

6. Why should I use the IRS data retrieval tool?

The benefit of utilizing the IRS data retrieval tool is that is greatly simplifies and expedites the verification process.  By using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you will not be required to submit a Federal Tax Transcript or copies of your Federal Tax returns to the financial aid office.

7. How do I use the IRS data retrieval tool?

Please refer to our IRS data retrieval tool instructional guide for more information.

8. How can I submit the required verification documents?

Documents can be submitted using any of the following options:

  1. Email: finaid@ciu.edu (scan the document(s), save as a PDF, and send as an email attachment)
  2. Fax: (803) 223-2505; Attn: Financial Aid
  3. Mail: Financial Aid, 7435 Monticello Road, Columbia, SC 29203

9. Is there a deadline for submitting and completing verification?

Those selected for verification should submit their required verification documents as soon as reasonably possible (preference is within 15 days of being selected, but this is simply a guideline, not a fixed deadline).  Federal aid, need-based state aid, or CIU's institutional need-based aid will not be disbursed until the student has completed the required verification process.

Note: If a student or their parents have a unique tax situation which requires filing for a tax extension, please notify our office.

10. Can I elect NOT to complete the verification process?

Yes, you can elect NOT to complete the verification process. However, making this decision means that you forfeit access to all federal aid, need-based state aid, and CIU's institutional need-based aid. All financial aid in these categories will be placed on hold.

Should this decision be reversed at a later time, then the verification review would proceed after all required documents were received. Once verification is successfully completed, all aid for which the student is still eligible would be reinstated.

 

11. What if I have questions about this process?

Contact the Financial Aid office via email (finaid@ciu.edu) or by phone (803-807-5036).

 

12. Miscellaneous information:

Food Stamp Recipients:

Recipients of Food Stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may be asked to provide the Office of Financial Aid with documentation that Food Stamps were received (FAFSA Question #75).  If documentation is not provided when requested, there may be additional income and asset information requested by the Financial Aid Office.

Child Support Paid:

Applicants who have been chosen for verification and who have indicated that child support was paid by the filer during the previous tax year, must confirm the amounts of child support paid, to whom the payments were made, and the names and address of the children receiving the child support.