Did you know you must complete a FAFSA every school year?
Every year all students must fill out new financial aid paperwork–even if they are not receiving financial aid. The financial aid paperwork and FAFSA are
used from July 1st to June 30th of every year and generally the new FAFSA is available in early January.
This year there are significant changes to the FAFSA. The changes are meant to make filing your FAFSA easier, but they may make the process take a little longer. The most significant change is you are now encouraged to link your taxes using the IRS data retrieval tool. This IRS data retrieval tool will bring in many items that you were required to manually input in previous years, such as taxes paid and adjusted gross income among other things. Not all students will be able to use the IRS data retrieval tool–if you are one of those students you will simply fill out the form like past years.
You will have a very high likelihood of being chosen for verification if you are unable to link your taxes, choose not to link your taxes or if you make changes to the information
that was brought in using the IRS data retrieval tool. In the past only about 1 in 3 FAFSAs have been chosen for verification; now if you do not link I can almost guarantee that your FAFSA will be chosen for verification.
What does this mean to you? If you are chosen for verification you may be required to contact the IRS and get a copy of your tax transcript from the IRS and your tax return
will no longer be accepted by the school to verify your FAFSA. The tax transcript can be requested by phone with the IRS and generally takes 15-30 minutes to request. Once you have requested it, the transcript can take 2-4 weeks to arrive. If you delay getting your FAFSA done this can cause some issues with your financial aid.
The verification process has also changed this year and we may be required to request other documentation. The verification process for each student is going to be different so I cannot go into too much detail now. If you are chosen your financial aid advisor
will let you know what documentation is needed.
How does the IRS data retrieval tool work? Starting February 1st it will be available for use
on the FAFSA website. At the point in the FAFSA where your taxes are needed it will ask if you want to use the tool. It will then ask you for some personal information such as name, social security #, date of birth, filing status and address. This information must match
exactly what your taxes have on them. The IRS and FAFSA organizations are working to make this process easier and more user friendly to accept things like St. instead of Street.
Once you have gotten your information correctly entered it will show you what information will be imported along with suggestions of what you might need to do with the information such as separating you and your spouse’s wages if you are married. Once the
information has been imported there should not be any reason to change it.
The IRS data retrieval tool will be available to electronic filers approximately 2 weeks after your taxes have been filed. For students who mail in their taxes it should be available approximately 8 weeks after your taxes hit the mailbox.
As always, if you have any questions stop into the financial aid office and see
your financial aid advisor.