FAFSA and FAFSA Verification
What is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?
Once you have applied for admission, your next step is to apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required in order for you to be considered for assistance through federal programs (grants, work-study, student / parent loans), state programs (TN Student Assistance Award, Lottery Scholarships, etc.), and various need-based scholarships.
Filing your FAFSA
- You (and parents as applicable) should apply for a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/fsaid. The FSA ID is used to login to certain federal websites to access financial aid information and to electronically sign federal student aid documents such as the FAFSA.
- For the 2020-21 award year (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021), you can complete the FAFSA at studentaid.gov beginning October 1, 2019.
- The 2020-21 FAFSA income information is based on prior-prior year (2018) income, which eliminates the need to estimate tax information.
- On the FAFSA, enter the MTSU school code of 003510 so that we get the results.
- If eligible, you (and parents / spouse as applicable) are strongly encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import your 2018 IRS tax information into the FAFSA. Doing so will reduce the chance that MTSU will be required to verify the accuracy of your information.
The 2020-21 MTSU FAFSA filing priority date is February 1, 2020 to be considered for maximum financial aid assistance. However, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible beginning October 1, 2019.
- For the 2021-22 award year (Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022), you can complete the FAFSA at studentaid.gov beginning October 1, 2020
- The 2021-22 FAFSA income information is based on prior-prior year (2019) income, which eliminates the need to estimate tax information.
- On the FAFSA, enter the MTSU school code of 003510 so that we get the results.
- If eligible, you (and parents / spouse as applicable) are strongly encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import your 2019 IRS tax information into the FAFSA. Doing so will reduce the chance that MTSU will be required to verify the accuracy of your information.
- The 2021-22 MTSU FAFSA filing priority date is February 1, 2021 to be considered for maximum financial aid assistance. However, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible beginning October 1, 2020.
Your Student Aid Report (SAR)
Once you have filed your FAFSA, you will receive a paper or electronic response from the FAFSA processor called the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will give you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and will also list your answers to questions on the FAFSA. It is very important that you review the SAR carefully and make sure that all information is correct as listed!
Your SAR will also include a number called the EFC, or Expected Family Contribution. Based on a federal formula, the EFC is the amount of support the federal government expects you to contribute toward your educational expenses. The EFC is listed on the first page of the Student Aid Report (SAR).
Review your SAR carefully and follow the directions provided to make corrections to any information that is incorrect. Your SAR may also direct you to supply additional or supplementary information to the MTSU Financial Aid Office. Please plan to follow those instructions as quickly as possible, so that we may get your financial files in order well in advance of the semester you plan to attend. Our office will also be reviewing an electronic version of your SAR to see if additional or supplementary information is needed. If additional information is needed, MTSU will contact you via your MTSU email account,
Please respond promptly to all requests from the Federal FAFSA Processor on your Student Aid Report (SAR) and/or to requests directly from MTSU. Unsatisfied requirements can be viewed in the Financial Aid Requirements & Holds section of your PipelineMT account.
Financial aid can't be awarded or paid to your student account unless all requested information and documentation has been submitted and reviewed by the Financial Aid Office.
If you have been selected for FAFSA verification, you are not alone! Verification is a process by which the federal government asks students and their parents for some additional information to check the accuracy of FAFSA information. If you are selected for verification, MTSU must collect the required documentation and complete the verification process with you before any financial aid can be awarded.
If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will receive an email notification sent to your MT email account instructing you to review your missing requirements. Please respond promptly to all requests for information.You cannot be awarded financial aid until the verification process has been completed.
The tax return transcript must be requested directly from the IRS by calling 1-800-908-9946 or visiting the IRS website. Be sure to request the tax return transcript, and not the tax account transcript. The student’s MTSU ID number should be included on each page of documents submitted for the verification process.
How will I know if I have been selected for verification?
It is very important that you check your MT Mail account regularly, and that you periodically log in to your PipelineMT account and check the Financial Aid Requirements & Holds page for any unsatisfied requirements and/or requirement messages. If you are selected for verification you will be notified by email to your MT Mail account. You will be directed to your PipelineMT account to review instructions and a list of the documents that must be submitted before financial aid can be awarded.
If selected for verification, what do I need to do?
Begin by reviewing our document “Completing Verification Requirements”. MTSU may be required to verify any or all of the following data elements on your FAFSA:
- Adjusted Gross Income for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married)
- Taxes Paid for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married)
- Income Earned from Work (for non-tax filers)
- Certain Untaxed Income items for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married)
- Household Size
- Number in College (excluding parents for a dependent student)
- Receipt of Food Stamps/SNAP Benefit
- Child Support Paid
- Any other inconsistent or conflicting information
To verify these elements, we may ask for the following documents; however, this is not a complete list. Specific documents requested will be based on your individual case.
- Copies of the specified year tax transcripts for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married) **See Important Note below
- A Verification Worksheet (downloadable from this web site)
- W-2s showing wages for student and parent (if dependent) or spouse (if married)
- Statement of child support paid and child support received
- Verification of net worth
- Documentation of Food Stamps/SNAP Benefit
- Once verification begins, we may need to ask for additional documentation based on
the documentation submitted.
If you are selected for verification, the notification you receive via MT email will direct you to your PipelineMT account to review instructions and a list of the documents that must be submitted before financial aid can be awarded. In general, your requirements may include all or many of the following. However, this is not a complete list, and your individual case may require that we request additional documents to meet all federal requirements.
Data Verification Worksheet: The verification process will begin with filing the correct Verification Worksheet for Dependent or Independent Students. Dependent or Independent status is as defined by the FAFSA.
IRS Data Retrieval Tool: If you have used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when filing your FAFSA, you will usually not have to submit tax transcripts from the IRS if selected for verification. Most students selected for verification will be able to complete the majority of their requirements by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
Tax Transcript from the IRS: If you do not, or cannot, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you must submit the tax transcript from the IRS. Students and parents can request a paper copy of their tax return transcript or obtain an online PDF copy of their tax return transcript, wage and income transcripts, and verification of non-filing letter through the IRS website. A tax transcript may also be requested at 1-800-908-9946.
Didn’t file taxes? If you (spouse, if applicable) and/or your parents have not and are not required to file a tax return, you will be required to confirm and document this information on the requested form. The income earned from work must also be documented by listing each employer and submitting copies of all W-2s received during the calendar year being verified. If a W-2 is not available, submit a signed statement (preferably on letterhead) from the employer verifying the earnings and explaining the absence of the W-2. Parents and independent students are required to also submit a Verification of Non-filing Letter obtained from the IRS.
Verification Impact to TELS Awards: If you have been selected for verification and are eligible to receive the Tennessee Hope Lottery Scholarship (and Merit Supplement, if eligible), starting in mid July prior to the start of the Fall semester, we will automatically review and award your Lottery Scholarship(s) depending on your eligiblity. Please note that you will not be eligible for any other types of aid until verification has been completed, this does include; the Tennessee Aspire Lottery Scholarship and Tennessee Non-Traditional HOPE Scholarship. Once verification has been completed, we will complete the review and award you the Tennessee ASPIRE Lottery Scholarship or Tennessee Non-Traditional HOPE Scholarship if eligible.
I need additional assistance!
We know that filing the FAFSA or being selected for verification can be stressful and time consuming as you work to gather and submit all the required documentation. If you need help with questions or in navigating the process, please contact the MT One Stop.