Applying for Financial Aid
You may apply for all types of financial aid at Eastern by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Follow these two steps:
- Access the federal PIN website (www.fsaid.ed.gov) to set up a Federal Student Aid Identification Number (FSA ID) for you and your parent sometime prior to October 1 of your senior year in high school. Retain this FSA ID for your records as you will use it each year you file the FAFSA.
- Complete the FAFSA online (www.fafsa.ed.gov) as soon after October 1 as possible using Eastern’s School Code (001425).
When completing your FAFSA online, you will have the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Using this tool allows you to directly link your FAFSA with the IRS so that your tax information can be downloaded to your FAFSA. The option will be presented to the FAFSA filer during the “Financial Information” section. If the student is dependent, the FAFSA filer will be presented with the option twice: once for the parent, and once for the student.
There are several benefits to using this tool and our office recommends that students do so if at all possible. The benefits include:
- Reduced time and effort filing the FAFSA
- Increased information accuracy on your FAFSA
- Increased security for parents and students filing the FAFSA
- Reduced chances of being selected for Verification (see information on Verification below)
- Fewer documents will need to be submitted to the Financial Aid Office in the event you are selected for Verification.
Remember that meeting Eastern’s financial aid priority date of March 1 is important. For Spring admitted students, the priority date is November 1. Therefore, either file your taxes early enough to meet this priority date for filing the FAFSA or plan to submit a Tax Return Transcript (see below) in support of your FAFSA application instead of using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
Please be aware of the following items if you plan to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool:
- The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will only be available to individuals who electronically file their taxes at least two weeks prior to filing the FAFSA. Those individuals who file their taxes by mail will have to wait at least four weeks before the Data Retrieval Tool will be available to them.
- Individuals who have an outstanding tax liability will not be able to use the Data Retrieval Tool until the taxes are paid.
- Using the Data Retrieval Tool requires that you enter your name and address. You must be sure to enter this information EXACTLY as it appears on your Federal Tax Return in order for the database to match your records.
There are two types of Tax Transcripts that can be obtained from the IRS. However, our office can only use the free IRS Tax Return Transcript for Verification purposes. DO NOT request a Tax Account Transcript or a copy of the actual tax return.
There are some cases that deem someone ineligible to request a tax return transcript. Individuals who have an outstanding tax liability will not be eligible to receive and Tax Return Transcript until the taxes are paid.
Those who filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return also are not eligible to obtain a Tax Return Transcript. In this scenario, the student must contact their financial aid administrator, who will then determine whether she can accept a copy of the 1040.
Tax Return Transcript may be requested:
- by calling 1-800-908-9946, but the average wait time can be 20-60 minutes.
- by using the direct link to get your transcript on-line
You must enter your name and address when requesting a Tax Return Transcript. Be sure to enter this information EXACTLY as it appears on your Federal Tax Return in order for the database to match your records. The IRS requests that you allow 5-10 business days for them to process your request for a Tax Return Transcript.
Any student who completes the FAFSA has a chance of being selected for a process called Verification. The federal government selects about 30% of all FAFSA filers annually and requires that information submitted on the FAFSA be verified by staff in the Office of Financial Aid. The purpose of Verification is to ensure that all the information that was entered on the FAFSA by the student and/or parent is true and accurate.
If you are selected for verification, our office will notify you via your Eastern email account, make sure you are checking it regularly! When we notify you about being selected, we will request documentation that may include, but is not limited to:
- The student’s federal Tax Return Transcript or, if the student did not file, W2(s).
- The parent(s)’ Tax Return Transcript or, if the parent(s) did not file W2(s) (for dependent students only)
- A Verification Worksheet, which can be downloaded under the “Forms & Downloads” section of our website.
Once our office is in receipt of all requested documentation, your file will be reviewed by your assigned Financial Aid Administrator. If she determines that the documentation is complete and accurately reflects the family’s circumstances, she will process your financial aid package and forward an award notification. If the administrator finds inconsistencies between information on your FAFSA and the documentation provided, the FAFSA must be reprocessed with the correct information requiring additional time before a financial aid package can be generated.
The most important thing to keep in mind about Verification is that financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis which demands that you submit accurate and complete documentation the first time it is requested.