Financial Aid FAQ


What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as the FAFSA) is a form that needs to be completed each year your student enrolls in college to determine his/her eligibility for financial aid. It’s available starting in January of each year. Learn more about the application process.

When should I complete the FAFSA, and what information do I need to complete it?

The best time to complete your FAFSA is in January. You will need tax information available to complete the FAFSA. You DO NOT need to have your current taxes completed to file the FAFSA. It’s ok to submit it with last year’s tax figures. If you use last year’s figures, you will need to make updates once you have filed your taxes. ( to make FAFSA corrections)

Why should I complete the FAFSA with estimated information?

It’s more important to get the FAFSA done as soon as possible to meet the filing deadline for the State of Illinois MAP grant that may be available. This deadline usually changes from year to year.

What is the next step after my taxes are completed?

Once taxes are completed, we encourage you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) on the FAFSA website. Eligible applicants can use this tool to automatically transfer certain information from their taxes to the FAFSA.

Who is eligible to use the IRS DRT?

Applicants must have a valid Social Security Number and FAFSA PIN to use the DRT. Students and parents must use the tool separately for their respective income tax returns.

Why wouldn’t I be eligible to use the IRS DRT?

There are several reasons (not all inclusive) why you may not be eligible to use this tool, including:

  • 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 your taxes using a Tax Identification Number (TIN)
  • Your address on the FAFSA is different than the address on your tax return
  • Your current marital status is different than it was the previous year
  • You filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return

What is the benefit of using the DRT?

Applicants who use the IRS DRT are less likely to be selected for verification. However, if you are selected for verification and you used the IRS DRT when completing the FAFSA and made no changes to your tax information, a tax transcript may not be needed as part of the verification process.

What is verification and why was I selected?

Verification is a process used to verify certain information on the FAFSA to ensure its accuracy. It’s a process that is required by the federal government. You may have been selected at random, your FAFSA may have incomplete information on it, the information on your FAFSA may appear to contradict itself or your FAFSA may have estimated information on it.

What should I do if I’m selected for verification?

You will need to provide any documentation that the financial aid office requests as soon as possible. Your college financial aid office can withhold disbursing aid to your student if necessary information isn’t provided. The types of documents required for verification will vary from student to student.

What documents might be requested?

The documents requested (not all inclusive) could include a tax transcript for parents and the student, W-2 forms, a verification worksheet and a master promissory note (if loans are part of the financial aid package).

How do I request a tax transcript if that is required?

You can request this on-line, by phone or by mail. To order on-line, go to To order by phone, call 1-800-908-9946. To order by mail, complete FORM 4506-EZ which can be found on the IRS website.

What happens if there are discrepancies found during the verification process?

If errors are found in your report, don’t panic. The financial aid office may discover something that could actually increase your eligibility for more aid.

Additional resources

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