No one likes filling out the FAFSA – it’s right up there with filing taxes and getting teeth pulled in terms of enjoyable activities. But in the last couple of years, the FAFSA got a whole lot easier with the introduction of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allowed students to automatically populate information for big chunks of the FAFSA.
What’s being done to help students with the FAFSA now that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is down?
A number of Congressional members have requested that the Department of Education offer support to students affected by the outage, including relaxing verification requirements and ensuring enough manpower to provide support through the call center, and some states and schools have pushed back their priority FAFSA deadlines (check with your school).
This is awful. Do I have to fill out the FAFSA?
Do you need financial aid? Do you want financial aid? If you answered yes to either (or both) of these questions, you should fill out the FAFSA. In fact, we recommend that even students who think they won’t be eligible for financial aid still complete the FAFSA. If you don’t complete the form, you definitely won’t qualify for financial aid. If you do complete the form, you never know – you might qualify for aid you aren’t aware of.
Yes, manually entering all of your family’s tax information is somewhat time consuming and annoying. But remember that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool didn’t even exist until 2010 – before that, everyone always had to manually enter the data.
With any luck, the IRS will resolve security concerns and the tool will be up and running next year.