2019-2020 FAFSA PDF RELEASED

The 2019-2020 FAFSA PDF is here. The 2019-2020 FAFSA cycle began on Oct. 1 and the application is available until June 30, 2020. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in the financial aid process. Students use the FAFSA to apply for federal student aid, such as grants, work-study, and loans. In addition, most states and colleges use information from the FAFSA to award nonfederal aid. FSA is pushing students to apply as early as possible, since some funds are limited, particularly funding from state aid programs which students also apply for through the FAFSA. Be sure to remind your students that some funds are limited, so it’s a good idea to apply as soon as possible.

The IRS DRT back for the 2019-2020 FAFSA cycle with stronger security and privacy protections. As a result, the tax information transferred from the IRS does not display on the IRS DRT web page, in the FAFSA form, or on the Student Aid Report. Instead of the user’s tax information being displayed, the phrase “Transferred from the IRS” appears in the appropriate fields on fafsa.gov. Schools will have access to the tax return information that is transferred via the IRS DRT.

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ARE YOU READY FOR THE 2019-2020 FAFSA

The 2019-2020 FAFSA launches on October 1, 2018. 2019-2020 FAFSA applicants will be required to provide their 2017 tax year information on the form. This year, applicants will have two ways to complete the form online by either completing the application at FAFSA.gov or by using the new myStudentAid app to complete the form right form their smart phone. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is reportedly ready to go for the 2019-2020 year too, so, we’re all keeping our fingers crossed that this year, it all works as expected.

THE FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID GOES MOBILE

If you attended last year’s Federal Student Aid conference in Orlando, Florida you were among the first to hear about FSA’s plans to redesign the FAFSA.Gov website and move the application to a mobile app.

According to an announcement from Federal Student Aid, the redesigned website was launched on July 22. Now, the site is optimized to fit mobile phone screens and has been redesigned for a better user experience. The FAFSA app is expected to be released later this year by October 1, 2018, so that students and parents can begin applying for aid the upcoming 2019-2020 FAFSA application cycle. More specific information on the mobile app, which will become available later this summer, will follow in an upcoming electronic announcement. For now, check out the electronic announcement from FSA for more information and to grab a copy of a helpful PowerPoint that can be used as a reference tool for aid administrators, counselors and even financial aid nights and internal staff training.

FSA UNVEILS NEW DHS-SAVE RESOURCE PAGE

Beginning in May 2018, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will give Title IV schools access to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (Save) system for submitting third step verification requests to obtain the immigration status for determining student eligibility for Title IV aid. Increasing electronic access for Title IV schools to the save system is a collaborative effort by ED and DHS, designed to modernize the third step verification process. DHS’ existing paper-based process will be discontinued on May 1, 2018.

To assist schools in getting up to speed with the new process, the Department created a new DHS-SAVE resource page on the IFAP website. It provides the guidance on the electronic third step verification process for determining a student’s eligibility for title iv as well as dear colleague letters and announcements and other resources.

SCHOOLS MUST AUTHENTICATE IDENTITY OF FAFSA FILERS

Beginning with the 2018–2019 FAFSA cycle the IRS DRT will obscure a taxpayer’s information from a FAFSA applicant but ISIR data received by schools will have all of the information. Last month federal student aid issued a reminder to institutions that they are obligated to protect the security and confidentiality of data used in all aspects of administration of the Title IV Federal Student Aid programs. This includes having policies and practices in place that provide for adequate authentication of an applicant’s identity before disclosing any confidential information. Schools may not disclose income and tax information from the FAFSA with the applicant his or her spouse or parents unless they can authenticate their identity.

A FAFSA applicant appearing in person and presenting an unexpired, valid government issued photo identification (e.g. a driver’s license, non-driver’s identification card, other state issued identification, or U.S. passport) is a secure way of doing so for purposes of disclosing FAFSA information.

FSA cautioned institutions that while an institution may have policies and procedures in place that provide for authentication in a manner other than in person, or practices that guide staff interactions with students and families about how to answer questions from applicant’s and their families without compromising highly confidential information they may also need to strengthen their internal controls and provide additional training for staff to ensure that confidential information is not inappropriately or inadvertently disclosed.

IRS DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL SUSPENDED

Last month, the IRS decided to temporarily suspend the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) on FAFSA.gov and StudentLoans.gov 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. http://bit.ly/2nEL6Ck

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 www.irs.gov/transcript 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: http://bit.ly/2nCmT0l

2017-2018 FAFSA VERIFICATION – IRS TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPT MATRIX

Financial Aid Consultant - Verification

Federal Student Aid released the 2017-2018 FAFSA Verification-IRS Tax Return Transcript Matrix that institutions can use for verifying 2017-2018 tax return information for selected applicants. Because the 2017-2018 FAFSA uses prior-prior year income and tax return information, this matrix remains unchanged from the one FSA provided for the 2016-2017 FAFSA. The 2017–2018 FAFSA Verification-IRS Tax Return Transcript Matrix is applicable only for U.S. IRS tax return filers (IRS Form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ) and includes only the tax return items required by the Department to be verified for 2017–2018. IRS Tax Return Transcript shows most line items from a tax filer’s original tax return.  An IRS Tax Return Transcript does not include information from an amended tax return.

FAFSA’s Mythbusting Campaign

Lisa DiCarlo, Federal Student Aid’s Director of Student Experience Group explained in a recent electronic announcement that FSA has launched a campaign to counter the myths of financial aid and encourage more people to fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid. Their campaign launched on October 1st and features comedian Adam Conover, know for hosting the truTV network show “Adam Ruins Everything”. Coinciding with the launch of the Early FAFSA, FSA’s outreach efforts are focused on dispelling common myths about applying for Federal Student Aid such as “my parents make too much money,”  and much more. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsamyths/

Availability of the IRS Get Transcript Online Tool

Now that the IRS has re-launched its “Get Transcript Online” tool using a new multi-factor authentication process, users of the system (including students and families mired in verification hell) will need to register prior to submitting a transcript request. A tax filer who is not able to register will have to request a tax transcript by mail, paper or phone – which let’s face it just takes forever. Keep in mind, the IRS does not accept requests for transcripts in person at it’s taxpayer assistance centers now either. So here’s what you need to know to help keep your students from going crazy. Continue reading Availability of the IRS Get Transcript Online Tool

Upcoming Implementation of Cash Management Regulations

Beginning September 1, 2016 institutions engaged in a Tier One or Tier Two arrangement as defined in the October 30, 2015 Program Integrity and Improvement Regulations must post those Contracts in full on the institutions website and provide the URL for the contracts to the Department of Education. Continue reading Upcoming Implementation of Cash Management Regulations