The Internal Revenue Service announced on March 9, 2017 that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows students and their parents to upload federal tax return information from the IRS directly into the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid), is currently not working. The same tool is used by students applying for an income-driven student loan repayment plan at StudentLoans.gov.
The tool will remain unavailable for at least a few weeks because it was taken down while the IRS works to be sure that it is secure and that using the tool to complete the FAFSA does not compromise users’ sensitive tax information.
UPDATE: On March 16, a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders and committees requested briefings and information from Betsy DeVos, secretary of Education. Meanwhile The Wall Street Journal reported that the tool was taken down because of “criminal activity.”
In the meantime, students and families can complete the FAFSA at fafsa.gov by manually entering their 2015 tax information from completed returns. (Remember that the FAFSA is now collecting “prior prior” tax year information, which for this filing season means 2015.) To learn more, including how to proceed if you did not save copies of your 2015 tax returns, read the complete IRS news release here.
We don’t yet know if people who have already completed the FAFSA this year using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, or who have used the tool in the past, have had their personal data compromised. CollegiateParent will continue to monitor the situation and share breaking news as soon as it is available.
- Students who still need to complete the FAFSA to determine eligibility for financial aid for the 2017-2018 academic year should do so immediately and gather their 2015 income tax information beforehand.
- The Data Retrieval Tool issue may cause more instances of the new Code 399 flag (which will occur if there are discrepancies between the tax information supplied in last year’s application and this year’s since they use the same tax year). Learn more about Code 399 (what it is and what to do if your application is flagged) here.
Learn more about the FAFSA and how and why to apply for financial aid during college in “A Financial Aid Update for College Parents.”