New Flexibilities for FAFSA Filers Impacted by IRS Data Tool Suspension

The U.S. Education Department on Monday announced changes to 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Verification Requirements.

The announcement comes in response to concerns about the impact of the suspension of the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) on students and families who have been selected for verification of their Free Application for Federal Student Aid/Institutional Student Information Record (FAFSA/ISIR) information.

The agency will provide institutions with new flexibilities to use for as part of their verification procedures.

The new options—that aim to support applicants who may not have had all of their required tax-related documentation available—include:

  • 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 that was used by the tax filer for submission to the IRS 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. They help applicants who normally would have used the IRS DRT to more easily complete the application process," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a press release. "We will continue to look for additional ways to ease the burdens created by the IRS DRT outage until the tool can be restored with added security measures in place later this year."

The outlined changes are effective immediately and apply to both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA processing and verification cycles.


Related Links

U.S. Department of Education Press Release

U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid Dear Colleague Letter