NASFAA Statement on IRS Data Retrieval Tool Outage Update

This afternoon the Department of Education announced that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), an integral resource that allows students and parents applying for financial aid to import tax information directly into their federal financial aid application, will be “offline until the start of the next FAFSA season,” which starts in October. The tool, which was disabled in early March, was taken down due to security concerns.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), made the following statement regarding the continued outage:

“We are very disappointed to hear that the Data Retrieval Tool, a resource students and families have come to rely upon and which our current application and verification processes are built, will be offline for an extended period of time. While we understand the need to ensure proper security, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s statement that this tool merely provides a ‘convenience for applicants’ portrays a disheartening lack of understanding about how vital this tool has become in streamlining the financial aid application process.

Absent from the press release is any mention or reaction to a recent call from thousands of institutions, financial aid administrators, college access professionals, admissions and guidance counselors, and students to provide relief for students and institutions as they deal with the sudden and unexpected outage of the DRT.

It is important that students and parents know that they can still complete and submit the FAFSA, despite the DRT outage. We would advise families having difficulty with their financial aid application to reach out to college financial aid offices, high school guidance counselors, and other college access professional for assistance. Though the DRT outage may add an extra layer of complexity to the financial aid application process, it should not derail parents and students from applying for funds to help them pay for college.

The Department of Education needs to take immediate steps to mitigate the negative effects for students, including:

  • Updating and correcting FAFSA information and instructions across federal websites regarding the availability of the IRS DRT. Even now, four weeks after the DRT was originally taken down, students are still reporting that they are being directed during the application process to the nonfunctioning IRS DRT. Not only does this confuse students, but the misdirection also does not give applicants an opportunity to get back to their FAFSA application to complete the process.
  • Allowing signed copies of tax returns from applicants to satisfy verification documentation requirements in place of Data Retrieval Tool information or IRS tax transcripts.
  • Revising the verification selection criteria to provide a more generous tolerance to ensure that the number of students selected for verification remains stable and manageable for institutions so that financial aid processing can continue uninterrupted.”

There are changes to the 2017-2018 FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) that you need to be aware of:

  • The 2017-2018 FAFSA will be available starting October 1, 2016 rather than waiting until January 1, 2017.
  • You will use your 2015 tax information rather than your 2016 tax information.
  • The priority deadline to be eligible for state grants has changed to February 1, 2017.

 

How will the changes benefit the student?

  • The 2017-2018 FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information.  You will have already completed your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, and you won’t need to estimate your tax information and then go back into the FAFSA later to update it.
  • Because you have already completed your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA.  This will be a benefit if you are selected for the verification process.
  • Because the FAFSA is available earlier, you may feel less pressure due to having more time to explore and understand your financial aid options and apply for aid before your state’s and school’s deadlines.

 

Things that did not change:

  • You will still complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
  • Our school code is 013877.

 

Cox College participates in the federal work study program by offering students the opportunity to work at least 10 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters.  Summer opportunities are based on available funds.  Work study opportunities are considered federal aid and are based on the student’s eligibility, enrollment status, and academic progress.  To be eligible for work study, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Be degree seeking
  • Be enrolled at least half time
  • Be awarded federal financial aid through Cox College
  • Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Meet employment eligibility, background check, and drug screening through CoxHealth
  • Submit a valid 2016-2017 FAFSA

 

On campus work study students are paid $9.50 per hour and must be available to work at least 10 hours per week during the semester.

Federal Work Study Positions Available:

 

If you are interested in a position(s), please complete a Work Study Application.  Click here to begin.

The Financial Aid Office is here to help you. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns that you may have.