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With IRS Data Tool Down, Lawmakers Ask Department of Ed to Assist Students

March 28, 2017
 
 

In a letter released Monday, the Senate and House education committees called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to assist students affected by the continued outage of the IRS data retrieval tool.

The recommendations in the letter overlapped with requests made by college access groups earlier this month as the complications from the tool's shutdown became apparent. Lawmakers asked DeVos to provide more prominent notice to students and parents that the tool was unavailable, to consider accepting signed copies of tax returns for verification of income instead of tax transcripts, and to make sure the Federal Student Aid call center was able to handle increased call volume created by the outage. They also indicated that the department should encourage more states with upcoming aid deadlines to follow the lead of Texas and Indiana, which announced they would move back their priority aid deadlines.

The data retrieval tool was introduced to speed the financial aid process and avoid errors by allowing students to automatically import tax data on file with the government into their application for federal student aid. The tool was shut down by the IRS and the Department of Education this month with no warning to applicants or student advocates. Later, the agencies said the tool was taken down because of concerns over security.

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