Avoid Conflicting Information – Encourage Families to Use 2016-17 DRT

PPY Blog HeaderBy Rachelle Feldman, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at the University of California-Berkeley

With the implementation of the Early FAFSA and the use of prior-prior year information for the 2017-18 FAFSA we are presented with a unique, one-year situation. Students and parents will report calendar year 2015 income tax information for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA. As a result, a conflicting information situation is possible if the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) was not used during the 2016-17 FAFSA filing process. Federal regulations require the resolution of conflicting information used to determine the federal Expected Family Contribution. The Department of Education (ED) has published preliminary information on how it will treat possible conflicting information as summarized below. This information is also available on the IFAP webpage.

  • When processing an applicant’s 2017-2018 FAFSA, ED will perform an automatic review when there is also a 2016-2017 FAFSA on file for the applicant. This review will determine if there might be conflicting information between the two FAFSAs.
  • The CPS will flag for institutional resolution only those 2017-2018 ISIRs where any potential conflict, once resolved, would have a significant impact on the student’s 2017-2018 EFC.
  • ED will release a Dear Colleague Letter later this spring with more detail on this process.
  • ED has also emphasized that the best way to avoid these conflicting information situations is for students and parents to use the IRS DRT. Now that the 2015 tax return filing deadline has just recently passed, the majority of families will have completed their tax return. This is an opportune time to remind students and parents to take advantage of the DRT process.

We encourage schools to initiate an email or letter campaign to encourage students and parents to use the DRT process for the 2016-17 filing cycle, regardless of their federal verification status. A sample email template provided below.

Several resources are available to assist families in using the DRT, including this YouTube video tutorial created, and generously shared, by NASFAA members at the University of California- Santa Barbara.

Make it easier on your office and your students and parents – encourage the use of IRS DRT to update the 2016-17 FAFSA today!

Sample Email Template

Dear <<student>>,

We want to make you aware of several upcoming changes to the financial aid application process and some actions you can take now to make the process smoother and easier for next year.

On September 13, 2015, President Obama signed an executive order that will allow families to complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using income information from the 2015 federal tax return, the same income information that you and your parent(s) reported when filing the 2016-17 FAFSA. As result, the 2017-18 FAFSA may be filed as early as October 1, 2016. This new feature will allow students and parents to report final, accurate income information on the FAFSA as the vast majority of families will have already completed their 2015 taxes by October 2016.

Now that the 2015 federal tax return filing deadline has passed, it is time to update your 2016-17 FAFSA information with final 2015 income data. In order to avoid any discrepancies between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, we strongly encourage you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to update your 2016-17 FAFSA income information. The IRS DRT is available through the FAFSA website and saves time and effort in the following ways:

    • No need to locate your tax return records;
    • No need worry about making mistakes entering your tax return information on your FAFSA;
    • If you use the IRS DRT and do not change any of the retrieved information in your FAFSA;
    • You won’t need to provide tax transcripts to the financial aid office if you’re selected for federal verification; and
    • If you use the IRS DRT for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, it will reduce the chances of questions from the financial aid office or the Department of Education regarding conflicting information from your FAFSA records. 

If you need help with using the IRS DRT, here is a helpful video tutorial that clearly explains the process. Or as always, stop by or contact the financial aid office. Also, for more information about the 2017-18 FAFSA check out this short video.

Thank you for updating your 2016-17 FAFSA information and don't forget to file your 2017-18 FAFSA beginning October 1! XXXXXX College’s (University’s) 2017-18 financial aid application filing deadline is XXX, XX, 20XX.


<<Financial Aid Office>>


Did you miss the first-ever PPY, Early FAFSA, and You: How to Get Your Campus Ready blog post, written by West Virginia University's Senior Associate Director Candi Frazier? Check it out now.


Publication Date: 5/19/2016

Alana T | 5/19/2016 10:35:05 AM

To clarify: Considering the conditions in the above statement, should the student still use the 2016/2017 information from the 2015 taxes for the upcoming 2017/2018 FAFSA?

Alana T | 5/19/2016 10:9:07 AM

Question: If a student's parent income has changed, but not significantly between the report of the 2016/2017 FAFSA and the upcoming filing in October for 2017/2018, should the student still use the 2016/2017 information for the upcoming 2017-2018 FAFSA?

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