IRS Temporarily Halts Student Financial Aid Tool

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Terry Sheridan
Columnist
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An online tool that allows college students to automatically transfer their federal tax information to financial aid forms was taken down by the IRS and may be unavailable for several weeks, the agency announced on March 9.

The data retrieval tool is found on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov for students seeking financial assistance through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The IRS said in a statement that it temporarily suspended the data retrieval tool “as part of a wider, ongoing effort to protect the security of data” and as a precaution “following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.”

The IRS and the US Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) are working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible, according to the statement.

“The scope of the issue is being explored, and the IRS and FSA are jointly investigating the issue,” the statement said. “At this point, we believe the issue is relatively isolated, and no additional action is needed by taxpayers or people using these applications.”

In the meantime, students can still apply for financial assistance. FAFSA applicants who are applying for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan can manually provide the necessary information from their tax returns.

The FAFSA and IDR online applications have not been affected by the tool outage, so applications can be submitted as usual.

Applicants who don’t have a copy of their tax return can go to IRS.gov/transcript to see it and download a tax transcript at Get Transcript Online. Identity verification will be required.

The transcript also is available by mail at Get Transcript by Mail or by calling (800) 908-9946 to have a transcript delivered to the address of record. Delivery will take up to 10 days.

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