The Financial Aid Office will verify all applications that have been selected by the Department of Education. If there is conflicting information in the file, the conflict must be resolved even if the application is not selected by the Department of Education for verification. The conflict may be resolved without being chosen for total verification. Sterling College reserves the right to institutionally select student files on a case-by-case basis if there is reason to believe that data in the file or on the application is inaccurate.

Students must submit required verification documents no later than 45 days after the beginning of classes. If they fail to submit required documents, they may be packaged without federal aid. Once all documents are received, Sterling College will complete verification and re-package the student’s financial aid.

There are different verification groups. If chosen for Verification, the student will be notified, by email, on how to complete the verification process. All verification groups will require a verification worksheet that coincides with the verification group. Some verification groups will require the student and parent to link their FAFSA financial information to the IRS through the Data Retrieval Tool located within the FAFSA. It is highly recommended that all students link their FAFSA to the IRS through the Data Retrieval Tool located within the FAFSA.

Option 1 — IRS Data Retrieval Tool

Students and parents are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import data from their tax return. It is the fastest, easiest, and most secure method of meeting verification requirements. Students and parents do this either when initially filling out the FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) application or later as a correction. For the retrieved data to be acceptable documentation of tax data, it is necessary that neither students nor parents change the data after it is transferred from the IRS—if the data is changed after importation the student will need to provide other documentation.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available to students and parents if any of these conditions apply.

  • The person did not indicate on the FAFSA that the tax return has been completed.
  • The person is married and filed the tax return either as “Head of Household” or “Married Filing Separate”.
  • The tax return was amended.
  • Neither married parent entered a valid SSN.
  • A parent entered all zeros for the SSN because parent does not have a Social Security Number.
  • The person filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return.

If you are unable to utilize the Data Retrieval Tool you will need to submit a tax return transcript and if the tax return is a joint return, also submit W2s.

Option 2 — IRS Tax Return Transcript

If students cannot or will not use IRS Data Retrieval Tool they must document income data by providing an IRS Tax Return Transcript for the student and spouse or parents, as applicable. Request an IRS TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPT.

If you are having trouble obtaining a tax transcript or using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, call the Financial Aid Office for assistance at 620-278-4206.

All worksheets will be emailed to student upon receipt of FAFSA. Additional or replacement forms can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office or online at under the financial aid section/forms. For clarification on the correct form to complete and submit, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

In instances where a student or parent is required to provide copies of W-2 and they did not save their copy, they should request a replacement copy from the employer who issued the original W-2. If they are unable to obtain a new copy of W-2, Sterling College may accept a signed statement indicating wages earned, source of income and why W-2 is not available.

Students should contact the Financial Aid Office if they are experiencing any challenges completing the verification process.

Verification Worksheets

Data Retrieval Tool Steps