Opinion: IRS Data Retrieval Tool Outage Brings Applying for College Financial Aid to a Halt

"The IRS tool that sends parents' and students' tax data to the online filing system for the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been taken offline for security concerns, derailing the aid application (FAFSA) process and causing a mess for students and colleges nationwide," Troy Onink, CEO of Stratagee, writes in a Forbes opinion piece.

"The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), which allows students and parents applying for financial aid to import tax information directly into their FAFSA has now been nonfunctional for about a week. The IRS and the Department of Education (ED) said in a joint statement released today that they are working to resolve the situation, but that the tool will be down for several weeks.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), made the following statement regarding the current predicament with the Data Retrieval Tool:

'Coming online in 2010, the IRS DRT has helped reduce application errors for millions of financial aid applicants, while at the same time reducing the number of complex and time-intensive income questions on the FAFSA. Applicants who use the DRT are less likely to be selected by ED for verification, a sometimes cumbersome process whereby a school is required to collect additional information from students to verify FAFSA information. ED has strongly encouraged applicants to use the IRS DRT since its inception and has asked schools to promote the tool.' "
(read the full statement here.

"I highly doubt this will affect any student's individual aid award for the 2017-2018 academic year because colleges are aware of the situation and the Department of Education and the aid agencies at the state level will likely authorize college aid offices to adjust to a new FAFSA deadline once the IRS has resolved the DRT issue and students can successfully submit their FAFSAs," Onink writes.

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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