NAICU Washington Update

Department of Education Finally Addresses FAFSA Processing Issues

March 10, 2017

After several days in which applicants could not use the Internal Revenue Service data retrieval tool (DRT) to automatically fill in financial data on their FAFSAs, the Department of Education announced it had “temporarily suspended” the online resource for several weeks.  The Department revealed that the IRS took the tool off line as “part of a wider, ongoing effort at IRS to protect the security of data.”  

According to the Department, this action was “a precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.” The Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid is working with the IRS on a possible solution. 

While applicants will not have the convenience of the DRT when completing applications, the FAFSA website, and the website for applying for income driven loan repayment plans, are still operational.  The DRT allows applicants to automatically input required elements from previous year tax returns onto the FAFSA.  Without this tool, which was used by over five million people in 2014-15, applicants will have to find the required tax return information on their own and enter it manually. 

According to the IRS and the Department, additional information will be provided to the public when there is a specific timeframe for the return of the DRT, or if other details need to be shared. 

Tim Powers

Maureen Budett

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