Feds Announce FAFSA Security Changes, Sparking New Worries

"In response to a major security breach, federal officials have announced a change to the financial-aid application that some worry could discourage students from applying for the support they need to go to college," Education Week's High School and Beyond blog reports.
 
"In a memo released last week, the U.S. Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid said that when families use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, this fall, they can transfer tax data from the Internal Revenue Service, but they won't be able to see it.
 
Families can still use the much-vaunted data-retrieval tool, which instantly imports their tax information into the FAFSA. But instead of seeing the actual numbers from their tax returns, they'll see 'transferred from the IRS' in each data field. ...
 
The data-retrieval tool was hailed as a powerful way to simplify the process of financial aid, since lack of aid is a key stumbling block on the road to college. That, together with a new rule that let families use tax information from two years ago, rather than just one year ago, were intended to boost financial-aid rates.
 
Masking families' tax information on the FAFSA could work against that goal, said Megan McClean Coval, the vice president for public policy and federal relations for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
 
'It could potentially have an impact if fewer people use it because they're uncomfortable with not seeing their [tax] data on the application,' she said.
 
If families skip the data-retrieval tool because they're uneasy with the masked data, they'll have to type in their tax information manually, which carries a greater risk of mistakes, and of having to go through subsequent verification process with the education department farther down the line, Coval said.
 
Coval said NASFAA encourages the IRS to find a more permanent solution to the security problem that doesn't involve masking families tax information in the FAFSA form. 'We'd like them to find a fix that strengthens security without creating more barriers,' she said."
 
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: 8/16/2017

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