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Completing your 2017-18 FAFSA without IRS Data Retrieval

Michigan Union study room

June 2, 2017 update from the U.S. Dept. of Education: Data Retrieval Tool up for income-based borrowers and expected to be restored for 2018-19 FAFSA application on Oct. 1, 2017. Read more here

In early March, the U.S. Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service halted the use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, commonly used by students and parents to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to automatically populate FAFSA fields with federal tax information.

The decision was made due to security concerns, the agencies said in a joint statement (found here). On March 30, they announced that the tool will not be available “until extra security protections can be added” to the tool and that students and families should plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season. Department of Education officials assure families and students that, despite issues with the IRS tool, the FAFSA application is safe and remains available online.

The U-M Office of Financial Aid makes the following recommendations to U-M students who are applying for aid for 2017-18:

  1. Don’t delay completing your FAFSA. U-M’s priority application deadline remains the same: April 30, 2017.  We must receive your FAFSA by this date in order to consider you for all aid programs. Complete your FAFSA now.
  2. Have copies of your 2015 tax returns handy. Most families will have finalized their 2015 federal taxes needed to complete the 2017-18 FAFSA. Do not use estimated tax data, unless necessary.
  3. Order a Federal Tax Return Transcript so we will have it by June 1. Here is information about how to do this. Ordering a paper transcript will take the IRS 10-14 days to process, so don’t put this off. If you have any problems receiving your transcript, contact our office to speak with an aid counselor.
  4. You can still apply for financial aid after the April 30 deadline, but your aid eligibility may be limited.
  5. If you have questions about the FAFSA process, contact our office immediately and speak with a financial aid administrator. We want you to receive all of the aid for which you are eligible. Always include your 8-digit UMID when contacting us.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said although disappointed about the IRS tool outage, “it is important that students and parents know that they can still complete and submit the FAFSA. Though the DRT outage may add an extra layer of complexity to the financial aid application process, it should not derail parents and students from applying for funds to help them pay for college.”

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