Last month, the IRS decided to temporarily suspend the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) on and as a precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves. According to a statement by the IRS, the IRS and FSA are jointly investigating the issue and actively working on a way to further strengthen the security of information provided by the DRT before bringing it back on line. Despite the urgings of students, fellow aid administrators, States Attorneys General and a number of Congress People, the DRT is expected to remain down until October 1st 2017, to coincide with the beginning of the 2018-2019 FAFSA filing season.

The outage affects students filling out FAFSA on the web as well as borrowers applying for Income Driven Repayment Plans (IDR).

To fill out a FAFSA in the meantime, students must manually enter their tax information which increases the likelihood of their FAFSA being selected for Verification. Students selected for Verification of 2017-2018 FAFSA information will be required to provide an official IRS Tax Return Transcript to complete verification. Remember, the 2017–18 FAFSA form uses 2015 tax information not 2016 and transcripts should be much easier for students to obtain from the IRS.

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, copies of pay stubs or other acceptable forms of documentation explained online during the application process.Tax transcripts can still be obtained from at Get Transcript Online, with the proper identity verification. Additionally, Get Transcript by Mail can be accessed online, or the taxpayer can call 1-800-908-9946, and a transcript will be delivered to the address of record within five to 10 days.

For more info about obtaining tax records for verification, click here: