Students Scramble After IRS Takes Down Financial-Aid Tool

"For some high school seniors across the country scrambling to get their application for college financial aid filed by the deadline, the process last week got a little more complicated – as the IRS took offline a much-used data retrieval tool amid security concerns. And some experts say the outage could affect this year’s college enrollment numbers," Fox Business reports.

"Last week, after complaints from students and educators – some on social media -- the IRS and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) released a joint statement saying the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be 'unavailable for several weeks' as a 'precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.'

The statement said the issue 'does not limit families’ ability to apply for aid,' as they can still apply manually. ...

However, Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, says doing the application manually may lead to several delays and potential roadblocks for students.

'All the processes that we’ve built around the application and verification process have been built around this data retrieval tool, which has been around for 7 years now. So, not having the tool available means that potentially students and schools are going to have to go through a lot more steps to complete the application process. This could potentially lead to backlogs,' Draeger tells FOX Business.

'Additionally, schools found out from students who were running into roadblocks. There were no official announcements for days after the site had gone down either. And, we still don’t have a lot of clarity on when things are going to get fixed,' he says.

Draeger says students planning to attend open access institutions like community college will be affected the most because 'they are the ones who struggle with completing the application form in the first place.'"

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: 3/14/2017

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