For those of you in the past month or so who have attempted to use the IRS data retrieval tool on the FAFSA, you may have been shocked to find that the tool is currently unavailable. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students and borrowers to transfer their tax information from the IRS directly into the FAFSA and online application for Income Driven Repayment Plans (IDR).
The data retrieval tool was turned off after concerns that the data could be used by identity thieves to file fraudulent tax returns. The Department of Education will be adding extra security measures to ensure that student and parent data are protected. They announced that they anticipate the data retrieval tool to be offline until October 2017, which is when the 2018/2019 FAFSA would become available.
While it is still possible to submit your FAFSA and application for IDR plans, you will be manually entering in the data from the relevant tax year. To ensure the same level of accuracy when filing the FAFSA, we have a few recommendations to make the process easier.
- Have you and your parents (if required) 2015 tax information on hand and in front of you ready to go
- If you do not have a copy of the tax return that you filed, you may request a tax return transcript at: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript
- Do not include decimal points. When cents are included round up or down depending on the amount
- Have your W2’s (and your parents if required) on hand to ensure wages are accurately reported
*For those of you who submitted a FAFSA in previous years, please note that it is imperative that all your information on the 2016/2017 FAFSA matches the 2017/2018 FAFSA when the 2015 information is required.
We highly encourage each student to review their Student Air Report (SAR) to see if they were selected for verification. If you were, we highly recommend requesting copies of your Tax Return Transcripts (https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript) as we are unable to use copies of 1040’s for verification purposes.
While the loss of the data retrieval tool will certainly complicate the FAFSA submission process, we highly encourage all eligible students to file ASAP to ensure timely processing for the upcoming academic year. As always, feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions!
Until next time!
** EDIT UPDATE
To ease the burden on students, the Department of Education has announced that they will now allow students and parents to submit copies of their 2015 tax returns for both the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic years.
Please note that these copies MUST be signed non-electronically. If the parents file a joint return both parents must sign the copy submitted to Wentworth.
Families are encouraged to submit copies of the Tax Return Transcripts as requested from: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript however if you are unable to obtain a copy you may submit your tax return to the school to satisfy tax verification requirements.