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.

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