Fafsa Student Aid Form Available, Along With I.R.S. Data Tool

"Students and families seeking financial help for college will notice some possibly confusing changes this fall when they fill out an important federal form known as the Fafsa," The New York Times reports.

"... Many students and parents fill out and file the Fafsa online because that allows them to automatically transfer income information into the form using the Internal Revenue Service’s Data Retrieval Tool. The tool had been unavailable for Fafsa filing since March, after the I.R.S. abruptly suspended it because of security concerns.

This week, the federal Department of Education said the tool had been returned to service for the 2018-19 Fafsa filing season, which began on Sunday.

... The downside is that because students and their families cannot see their imported tax data, they can’t make any changes or corrections to the information. The Education Department, however, said in guidance to financial aid professionals, “Because the data came directly from the tax return filed by the applicant or parent and because income and tax items cannot be updated, we do not expect that there will be a need to make many corrections to these items.”

If any changes are needed — if, for instance, a family’s income has changed drastically since the tax return was filed — students must contact the financial aid administrator at the college to which they are applying.

Justin Draeger, president and chief executive of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said that while the situation wasn’t ideal, having masked data was better than not having the retrieval tool at all. That’s because the information transferred from the I.R.S. is generally accurate, he said, and using the tool helps avoid problems that may delay the financial aid process, like the need to provide additional documents to verify income.

... Students and their families should know that financial aid administrators are aware that families may have questions about the form, Mr. Draeger said, and that they are expecting increased calls.

'They will always do whatever they can,' he said, 'to help students apply for financial aid.'"

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: 10/10/2017

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