Allow more time when renewing IDR plans and filing FAFSA forms

Monday, April 10, 2017


The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) allows students to automatically transfer their tax information into the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the application for income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, instead of having to manually enter detailed tax return information. Millions of students each year rely on this streamlined online process to apply for federal student financial aid and to keep student loan payments affordable. Unfortunately, the DRT was abruptly taken down several weeks ago due to security concerns relating to identity theft.

While the Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable, FSA and the IRS remind applicants that online applications are still available and are operable.

The income information needed to complete the FAFSA and/or apply for an income-driven repayment plan can be found on a previously filed tax return. Students and parents completing a 2016–17 and 2017–18 FAFSA should manually enter 2015 (not 2016) tax information. Borrowers applying for an IDR plan should submit alternative documentation of income to their federal loan servicers after they complete and submit the online IDR application. The process for submitting the alternative documentation of income is explained to borrowers as part of the online IDR application.

While the Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable, a borrower may submit a paper copy of his or her tax return, pay stubs or other acceptable forms of documentation, explained online during the application process.

As the Data Retrieval Tool is expected to remain down until the next FAFSA filing period  (October 2017), we recommend that you allow for more time this spring and summer when applying for financial aid and income-driven repayment plan renewals. IDR plans require you to annually verify your income by providing your loan servicer with updated income documentation and family status. Annual deadlines are typically firm, and missing them could result in your payments dramatically jumping to the amount they would be under a Standard Repayment Plan. You can always ask your loan servicer for help if you are confused about your renewal process in light of the Data Retrieval Tool being down. IDR borrowers renewing this spring and summer should give themselves a few extra weeks, and set up calendar reminders to help keep them on track and avoid any issues.


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