Congress Erases K-12 Rules, a Financial Aid Foul-Up and Other Education News

"First, the website that provides help to families of students with disabilities went down last month with little explanation. Now, it's the IRS' Data Retrieval Tool. If those words, 'Data Retrieval Tool,' put you to sleep, it means you're not a high school senior rushing to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA," according to NPR.

"The FAFSA is the form — famously complicated and difficult to finish — that stands between many low-income high-schoolers and the federal Pell Grant that will help them pay for college.

In the past, many students weren't finishing the FAFSA because it required them to manually enter their parents' tax data. That was a big hurdle for at-risk students. But there was a clear fix, and in late 2015, the Obama administration agreed to the fix, allowing most applicants to use this IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically answer some of the FAFSA's toughest questions.

Yet students who have tried to use the IRS tool in recent days have, instead, been told: 'This service will be unavailable due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.'

... And it won't be back soon: 'The IRS anticipates the online data tool will be unavailable for several weeks.'

That's a problem because now is primetime for FAFSA filers, with many states' financial-aid deadlines fast approaching. In short: Students are in for 'a rude awakening,' says the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, or NASFAA.

Until the problem is resolved, NASFAA's president and CEO, Justin Draeger, called on the Education Department 'to take immediate steps to ease application and verification burdens that will fall squarely on students, potentially delaying or complicating their application process, not to mention increasing work on college campuses that could lead to delays and backlogs.'"

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 3/13/2017

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