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What is Verification?

Verification is a process required by the Department of Education. A percentage of financial aid applicants are selected to have their financial aid application (FAFSA) reviewed for accuracy.  

In order to verify accuracy, the financial aid office will request the needed documents via CougarMail. Students are encouraged to submit all requested documents as soon as possible. After a review of all documents, a specialist will verify accuracy of the student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit any adjustments to the Federal Department of Education.  

Students selected for verification cannot receive federal financial aid until their information is verified by the financial aid office.

What documents are needed for verification?

The documentation required will vary for each student.  See chart below for the most frequent document requests.  Be aware: 

  • All students selected for verification are required to submit a Verification Worksheet; either the Independent Worksheet or Dependent Worksheet (the Parent Verification Worksheet will also be required for dependent students).   
  • A Tax Return Transcript is required if the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not utilized when completing the FAFSA.
  • An additional request for documents often occurs after the financial aid office reviews submitted documents. Because financial information is student specific, the financial aid office cannot know exactly what is needed until a review is made of each submitted document. See Conflicting Information.
  • We recommend that you review the helpful tips.  


Documents below are listed in alphabetical order.

 A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N  O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z

Financial Aid Document List

Document Request 

More about this request and acceptable documentation: 
Amended Tax Return Required if individual amended his or her federal tax return. Submit a signed copy of 1040x federal tax return and a copy of the IRS Tax Return Transcript.
Assets Form  This is a Columbia College form that is required if the asset information on the FAFSA is submitted blank or if there is conflicting information. If requested, the Assets Form must be submitted to continue the verification process.  A FAFSA correction made by the student will not be sufficient.
Birth Document for Dependent Documentation of birth of dependent child is needed if a child is listed as age zero (or less than one) on the Verification Worksheet. A birth certificate or a document from the doctor’s office is acceptable.
Child Support Paid Submit the portion of legal custody agreement that shows amount to be paid and the name(s) of the child(ren), OR documentation from Family Support Services of the amount and the name of the child(ren) for whom the support was paid, OR If there is a verbal agreement for payment of child support, provide a letter written by the individual receiving the support.  This letter must be signed by the other individual. The letter must include the child's name, and the amount that was paid for the full year, OR We can also accept canceled checks or money order receipts for the whole year.
Divorce Documentation Submit court documentation, such as divorce decree (submit first pages only of divorce document).  Divorce documentation may be required if there is a recent change in marital status or conflicting information.

Degree-seeking/college enrollment documentation for family members age 16 or younger

If a family member listed in the household section of the verification worksheet is enrolled in college and is age 16 or younger, additional documentation of enrollment and degree seeking status is required.  Acceptable documentation would be a copy of a course schedule and/or a letter of enrollment from the college's registrar.   
Emancipated Minor documentation Must submit copy of court judgment for legal emancipation. Required when an individual reports “yes” to the emancipation question on the FAFSA.  In order to be eligible to claim emancipation, a judge must legally declare emancipation before individual reached the age of majority in the state of residence. The court order must still be in effect at the time you file your FAFSA.
Food Stamp documentation  Also called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Documentation of food stamps received (SNAP) is required on a case-by-case basis.  We can accept a letter from the county agency which handles the case or a copy of account history showing that you received food stamp benefits. You may be able to view your EBT account online.
Foreign Tax Return For individuals who filed foreign tax returns, submit signed copy of the foreign tax return or other information listing similar income and tax information.
Head of Household Form This Columbia College form may be requested to clarify eligibility of the federal tax return filing status of "Head of Household".   
High School Transcript (or equivalent)  A student should submit an official copy of high school transcript OR an official copy of GED OR documentation of homeschooling.  Transcripts should be sent to: Columbia College Evaluations, 1001 Rogers Street, Columbia, MO 65216
Homeless Documentation

If student answered “yes” to any of questions about homelessness on the FAFSA, documentation of status is required.  Submit a letter or documentation of homeless information from one of following:

*  A high school or school district liaison     

*  A director of an accredited HUD homeless shelter 

*  A director of a runaway/transitional living program or homeless youth basic shelter

If you are not able to provide the above documentation, please send e-mail explanation regarding your homeless status to

Household Size Clarification of household members is requested by CougarMail when the number of household members reported on the Verification Worksheet is different from the number reported on the FAFSA.  Documentation required will vary; students should reply to CougarMail e-mail request to provide household information.
Identity Theft Documentation Victims of identity theft who cannot get a tax return transcript must call the IRS's Identity Protection Specialized Unit toll free number at 1-800-908-4490.  An alternate paper tax transcript known as the TRDBV (Transcript DataBase View) can be requested from the IRS. For IRS assistance with identity theft, click here.
Income Form This Columbia College form is required when an individual is required to submit income information. Copies of all W-2 and 1099 forms should be submitted with this form.
IRS Data Retrieval Tool  Available when completing the FAFSA.  The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows individual to automatically retrieve federal tax information to the FAFSA application from the IRS.  Use of the tool is encouraged because it may speed the verification process.  Learn more about the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
Marital Status Clarification of marital status is requested when conflicting information is reported on FAFSA and other submitted documentation.  Documentation required will vary on a case-by-case basis.  All requests for clarification of marital status are sent by e-mail to CougarMail. If requested, documentation of marital status must be submitted to continue the verification process.
Orphan/Ward of Court Documentation If this situation applies, a student must submit copy of court judgment for orphan/ward of court decision.  Required when an individual reports “yes” to the orphan/ward of court question on the FAFSA.  If you are not able to provide documentation, please send e-mail explanation regarding the reason to
Request for Dependency Override A student may submit this form so a review will be made of his or her dependency status.  An override may only be granted on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual circumstances.  The unusual circumstances must show reason for a student to be considered independent rather than dependent.
Request for Special Consideration Form A student may submit this Columbia College form so a special review will be made of unique financial situations that may impact his or her ability to afford an education at Columbia College. Some examples of unique financial situations are involuntary job loss, loss of benefits, one-time income, death of a family member, high medical expenses, or extraordinary elementary and/or secondary education expenses. 
Statement of Educational Purpose/Identity Form 

The Statement of Educational Purpose/Identity Form is a federal requirement for some students. A selected student must provide the completed Statement of Educational Purpose/Identity Form, which must be signed in the presence of a notary public OR a Columbia College campus representative.  Students must also show proof of identity and provide a government issued photo identification to the authorizing individual.  The original signed copy must be mailed to: Columbia College Financial Aid, 1001 Rogers Street, Columbia, MO 65216.

(A notary public is a public official who can authorize official documents.  Notaries can often be found by contacting a local bank.  There may be a fee, so be sure to inquire of any fees charged for the notary service.)

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Documentation of food stamps received (SNAP) is required on a case-by-case basis.  We can accept a letter from the county agency which handles the case or a copy of account history showing that you received food stamp benefits. You may be able to view your EBT account online.
Support Form Information This is a Columbia College form that may be required if a person is listed in the household section of the Verification Worksheet who is not an immediate family member or is an adult relative 25 or older. The form details the amount of support provided for a specific person who is reported in household.
Tax Extension Form Columbia College tax extension form is required when an individual files an extension on his/her federal tax return. Also need: IRS Extension Form 4868, and income documents such as W2s.  More documentation may be needed depending on information on the Tax Extension Form.
Tax Return Transcript  The Tax Return Transcript is a federal form which details a federal tax return. The tax return transcript can be requested on the IRS website or by calling 1-800-908-9946.  Be sure to request the Tax RETURN Transcript and not the Tax ACCOUNT Transcript.
Untaxed Income Form         The Untaxed Income Form is requested when a student or parent is required to verify untaxed income reported on the FAFSA.
Verification Worksheet Columbia College form that is required for student and/or parent (for dependent students) when student is selected for verification.  Parents may access the form without a User ID on the Parent Forms webpage.

Helpful Tips

  • Submit available electronic forms electronically. Paper versions of the electronic forms are often not accepted and delay the process.
  • Submit all requested information.  Incomplete and/or missing information will cause delays in completion of financial aid.
  • Students must list their name, student ID, and phrase “requested information” when submitting additional documentation.
  • The Financial Aid Office is required to confirm that the correct tax filing status is used on all tax returns received. Students filing Head of Household must be able to document eligibility to use this filing status.
  • The Financial Aid Office is required to follow-up on all conflicting information. Additional information and documentation will be required in these situations. Federal aid cannot be packaged until these situations are resolved.  
  • Document review generally takes between 7-10 business days, with increases during times of high document submission.
  • Be sure to check your Cougar Mail. We will contact you via Cougar Mail if additional documents are needed. We recommend submitting all documents as soon as possible.
  • If you have any questions about the status of your financial aid, please contact us at

Additional Requests for Documents

Clarification or additional documentation may be requested in support of any verification documentation already received. Please note the following situations and the documents needed:

  • If you were not required to file a federal tax return but had income, documentation of income (W2s and 1099s) should be submitted with the Income Form.
  • If you have a person listed in the household section on your verification worksheet with a relationship not equal to daughter, son, spouse, the Support Form must also be completed for that person.
  • If there is a person listed in the household section on verification worksheet who is 25 or older and whose relationship to you is not spouse, the Support Form must be completed for that person.
  • If there is a person in your household who is under the age of 18 and enrolled in college, documentation of degree-seeking status and enrollment in college is required.

Conflicting Information

Students must be careful to submit only accurate information on all forms submitted to Columbia College. In the scenario that information submitted to the Financial Aid Office conflicts with other information received, additional documentation will be required. Financial aid cannot be packaged or disbursed until conflicting information is resolved. Both the determination of information conflicting and the resolution of the conflicting information is determined by Columbia College Financial Aid Office in conjunction with US Department of Education regulations.

The most common documents required for resolution of conflicting information:

  • Income documents (i.e., W-2, 1099, schedule C, etc).
  • Asset Form (form provided by Columbia College)
  • Marital status (marriage certificate, divorce decree, documentation of separation)
  • Documentation of child support paid 
  • Amended tax return
  • Documentation of non-tax filing status
  • Documentation of at least half time enrollment status in a degree seeking program for a dependent at another institution
  • Additional documentation showing support of a dependent