New Flexibilities for FAFSA Filers Affected by DRT Outage

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Institutions now have more options when it comes to verifying FAFSA information.

Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that colleges and universities would be granted new flexibilities due to the extended outage of the IRS’s Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

Although FAFSA applicants still have the option to enter income information manually, college access advocates are concerned that students and families who can’t access the DRT will face more complications in their quest to access federal student aid.

In response, the US Department of Education has provided the following flexibilities.

  • IRS Tax Return Filers: In lieu of using the IRS DRT, or obtaining an IRS transcript, institutions may consider a signed paper copy of the 2015 IRS tax return as acceptable documentation to verify information provided on the FAFSA.
  • Verification of Nonfiling: Institutions are no longer required to collect documentation obtained from the IRS or other tax authorities verifying that the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, or the applicant’s parents did not file a 2015 tax return (often referred to as Verification of Nonfiling).

“These flexibilities are an important step toward making the process easier,” DeVos said in a press release. “They help applicants who normally would have used the IRS DRT to more easily complete the application process.”

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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