Applying for Financial Aid is Going to be Harder This Year

"An online resource that makes it easier for millions of students to apply for college scholarships, grants and loans will be out of commission until next year, putting them at risk of losing out on financial aid," The Washington Post reports.
 
"Families filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the form the government and colleges use to determine financial aid, have come to rely on the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool to speed up the process. The web-based resource lets people upload tax-return information and eliminate tedious paperwork, but the IRS and Education Department disabled the tool this month,  citing suspicious activity by hackers.
 
On Thursday, the federal agencies issued a joint statement, saying the tool will remain offline until October as extra security protections are put in place. The IRS shutdown the data retrieval tool after identity thieves tried to use personal information from it to file fraudulent tax returns. The agency has grown more cautious after a 2015 cyberattack in which identity thieves breached 330,000 taxpayer accounts and tried to break into an additional 280,000 accounts.
 
'While this tool provides an important convenience for applicants, we cannot risk the safety of taxpayer data,' IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement. 'Protecting taxpayer data has to be the highest priority.'
 
Koskinen’s statement 'betrays a disheartening lack of understanding about how vital this tool has become in streamlining the financial-aid application process,' said Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). The government, he said, has ignored a petition from financial aid administrators, admissions officers and guidance counselors to ease application demands that could lead to delays and backlogs for students during the outage."
 
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: 3/31/2017

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