Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced new flexibilities available to institutions to use for verification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ®) information. The announcement is part of an ongoing effort to provide additional assistance to students and families impacted by the suspension of the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT).
“When I learned the IRS DRT would need to be offline for an extended period of time to add additional security and privacy measures, I directed Federal Student Aid to help students and families successfully complete their applications without use of the IRS DRT.
“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.
“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 new options available to institutions are designed to support those applicants who may not have had all of their required tax-related documentation available. They 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).
The new flexibilities begin immediately and apply to both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA processing and verification cycles.
The full letter sent to institutions is available: https://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN1704.html.
Additional details on the IRS DRT are available: Joint IRS/FSA Statement and IRS DRT Resources.