The Department of Education recently released updated guidance on the verification requirements for the 2018-2019 award year. 

The Internal Revenue Service determined that an enhancement to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which would have allowed FAFSA applicants to obtain confirmation of their non-filing status and transfer that information into the FAFSA isn’t possible. According to the IRS, they are unable to adequately confirm an individual’s identity when there is no tax return on file. Federal Student Aid released a statement in a July Electronic Announcement that for the 2018-2019 FAFSA, institutions should follow the acceptable documentation guidelines published in the Federal Register on May 5, 2017.

However for dependent students only, beginning with the 2018-2019 FAFSA institutions don’t have to confirm their non-filing status.

The items that require verification for CPS selected applicants are the same as those for the 2017-2018 award year, but there were some changes to the acceptable documentation for those items for 2018-2019. Keep in mind that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is going to be reinstated on October 1st for the 2018-2019 Early FAFSA cycle.

Tax Filing Extensions

First, FAFSA applicants who were granted an automatic six-month IRS Tax Filing Extension on their 2016 Federal Income Tax Return must either use the IRS DRT or submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript to the school if they are selected. If an individual was granted an additional extension beyond the automatic six-month extension must submit additional documentation such as a copy of form 4868 “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return”. For students on granted an extension due to military service such as active or National Guard duty, schools can accept a statement certifying that they did not file or request an extension because of that service.

Government Issued ID

For students placed in Verification Tracking Groups V4 or V5 schools may only accept an unexpired valid government issued photo ID. A unexpired valid government-issued photo identification is one that is issued by the U.S. government, any of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribe, 1 American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.

Auto Zero EFC

For Auto Zero EFC-eligible applicants placed in Verification Tracking Group V1 or V5, the FAFSA information that must be verified varies slightly between dependent and independent students. Only the following FAFSA/ISIR information must be verified:

For dependent students

  • The parents’ adjusted gross income (AGI) if the parents were tax filers;
  • The parents’ income earned from work if the parents were nontax filers; and
  • The student’s high school completion status and identity/statement of educational purpose, if placed in Verification Tracking Group V5.

For independent students

  • The student’s and spouse’s AGI if they were tax filers;
  • The student’s and spouse’s income earned from work if they were nontax filers;
  • The student’s high school completion status and identity/statement of educational purpose, if placed in Verification Tracking Group V5; and
  • The number of household members to determine if the independent student has one or more dependents other than a spouse.

For all Auto Zero EFC-eligible applicants placed in Verification Tracking Group V4, the student’s high school completion status and identity/statement of educational purpose information must be verified. 

2018-2019 Acceptable verification documentation FAFSA
DCL-17-15: 2018-2019 FAFSA Verification Tracking Groups and Information required to be verified.

Does your team need more verification training? Get in touch with us today to discuss our custom training plans designed to provide your Financial Aid office with the skills and knowledge they need to master verification.


Institutions must report the verification results of identity and high school completion status, for any applicant for whom the institution received an ISIR with a Verification Tracking Group of V4 or V5, and for whom the institution requested verification documentation. This information must be reported through FAA Access to CPS Online either online, manually or through your Financial Aid Management Software. In a recent electronic announcement from Federal Student Aid, Jeff Baker reminded institutions of their obligations and provided a helpful chart and other info to schools. You can read the full electronic announcement here: