How to get a Tax Return Transcript for College

Last updated on May 11, 2023 / By 

When applying for financial aid or scholarships for college, you may be required to provide a tax return transcript as part of the documentation. A tax return transcript is an official document issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that summarizes your tax return information. This article will guide you through the process of obtaining a tax return transcript to fulfill the college’s requirements.

Step 1: Understand the Purpose of a Tax Return Transcript 

Before diving into the process, it’s crucial to understand why colleges may require a tax return transcript. By requesting this document, the educational institution aims to verify the accuracy of the information provided on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or any other financial aid application.

Step 2: Determine Your Eligibility 

Not everyone is eligible to request a tax return transcript. Typically, you can obtain a tax return transcript for free if you filed a tax return within the last three years. If you didn’t file a tax return or filed one more than three years ago, you might need to request an IRS Verification of Nonfiling Letter instead. Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria before proceeding.

Step 3: Gather the Required Information 

To request a tax return transcript, you’ll need to gather some essential information. Make sure you have the following details readily available:

  • Social Security number (or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)
  • Date of birth
  • Filing status (e.g., single, married, head of household)
  • The address on file with the IRS

Step 4: Choose the Method for Obtaining the Transcript 

The IRS provides several methods to obtain a tax return transcript. You can choose the one that is most convenient for you: a) Online Request: Visit the IRS website ( and navigate to the “Get Transcript” tool. Follow the instructions to request your tax return transcript online. You may need to create an account and verify your identity using personal information and financial data.

b) Phone Request: Call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946 to request your tax return transcript via an automated phone service. Make sure you have all the necessary information mentioned in Step 3 available when making the call.

c) Mail Request: If you prefer a traditional method, you can complete Form 4506-T, “Request for Transcript of Tax Return.” Once filled, mail it to the appropriate IRS address as indicated on the form. This method usually takes longer to receive the transcript compared to online or phone requests.

Step 5: Verify Your Identity 

Regardless of the method you choose, the IRS will require you to verify your identity before providing the tax return transcript. This is done to protect your personal information from unauthorized access. The verification process may involve answering security questions based on your financial history, such as previous addresses or specific amounts from previous tax returns.

Step 6: Receive and Review the Transcript 

Once your request is approved, you will receive the tax return transcript by mail (if requested via mail) or through an online download (if requested online). Carefully review the document to ensure it contains the required tax return information for the specified tax year.

Step 7: Submit the Tax Return Transcript to Your College 

After receiving the tax return transcript, make copies of the document for your records and provide the original to your college’s financial aid office. They will use it to verify your financial information and determine your eligibility for financial aid or scholarships.

Conclusion: Obtaining a tax return transcript for college is an essential step in the financial aid application process. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can successfully request and receive the necessary document from the IRS. Remember to plan ahead and allocate sufficient time for the transcript to arrive, especially if you choose to request it by mail. Be proactive and start the process well in advance to avoid any delays in meeting your college’s requirements.

Additionally, always keep copies of your tax return transcript and any other related documents for your own records. These documents may be useful in the future for other financial transactions or applications.

Remember, if you encounter any difficulties or have specific questions regarding the process, it’s recommended to reach out to the IRS directly or consult with your college’s financial aid office for guidance and assistance.