FAFSA How-To

Step 1: IRS Data Retrieval

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

When completing the FAFSA the student and parents (if applicable) will need to complete the tax information on the FAFSA. Below are two options for completing this part of the FAFSA:

If you filed as Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, or amended your tax return you will not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on your FAFSA application and therefore must use option two listed above.

  • The first option available is a new process called IRS Data Retrieval. When prompted in the FAFSA select the IRS Data Retrieval match. This process will take your previous year tax information that the IRS collected from your tax return and put it directly into your FAFSA. It's a quick and easy process! If you are a dependent student, both you and your parents will need to use the IRS data match.
  • If you are unable to do the data match (see reasons below) the student and parent (if applicable) can use a copy of their previous year federal tax returns and put that information directly on the FAFSA when completing it online.

Step 2: Complete Verification if Selected

Students will receive an email message from the Department of Education letting you know that your FAFSA has been processed and sent to your school. Go online and review the information on the FAFSA for accuracy and to be sure Mississippi State University is listed as a college to receive your results. MSU will notify you through email and postal mail if your FAFSA is selected for verification.

If your FAFSA has been selected for verification by the Department of Education you many need to turn in some or all of the following documents. To find out what specific forms you need to turn in please log into your myState account and review the outstanding documents. Some of the documents you may need to complete are:

  • Federal Tax Information - You have two options for providing us with this information.
    1. The first option available is a new process called IRS Data Retrieval*. Please log back into your FAFSA and select the IRS Data Retrieval match. This process will take your previous year tax information that the IRS collected on your tax return and put it directly into your FAFSA. It's a quick and easy process! Once you complete the IRS Data Retrieval match, you must re-submit your FAFSA. If you are a dependent student, both you and your parents will need to use the IRS data match.
    2. The second option is to request a tax return transcript from the IRS for the year that is being verified. To request a free IRS tax return transcript, you may call 1-800-908-9946 or order a tax return transcript online at www.irs.gov. If you are a dependent student, both you and your parents will need to request a tax return transcript
  • Household information - Is verified by the completion of the Household Verification Form. Please read the instructions carefully to include the members of the household.
  • Food Stamps Received - Should be completed if you indicated that someone in your household received food stamps.
  • Child Support Paid - also has a form to be completed if you indicated funds paid on your FAFSA.
  • Other Documents - There could be other documents needed based on your response to certain questions on the FAFSA.