If you've ever spent any time filling out a Federal Student Aid form (better known as the FAFSA), you've probably yearned for a way to make the process a bit more simple.
Well, there's an app for time-saving on the FAFSA, and it's brought to you by an unlikely source: the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS has automated access to federal tax returns — a huge part of the FAFSA fill-out — with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which lets applicants automatically transfer the required tax data directly onto the FAFSA form.
Here's a rundown and some tips on using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool courtesy of our friends at the IRS:
Benefits: The IRS Data Retrieval tool is an easy and secure way to access and transfer tax return information directly onto the FAFSA form, saving time and improving accuracy. Also, the increased accuracy reduces the likelihood of being selected for verification by the school’s financial aid office.
Eligibility Criteria: Taxpayers who wish to use the tool to complete their 2012 FAFSA form must:
- have filed a 2011 tax return;
- possess a valid Social Security Number;
- have a Federal Student Aid PIN (individuals who don’t have a PIN, will be given the option to apply for one through the FAFSA application process);
- have not changed marital status since Dec. 31, 2011.
- Exceptions: If any of the following conditions apply to the student or parents, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool cannot be used for the 2012 FAFSA applications:
- an amended tax return was filed for 2011;
- no federal tax return for 2011 has been filed ;
- the federal tax filing status on the 2011 return is married filing separately;
- a Puerto Rican or other foreign tax return has been filed.
Alternatives: If the IRS Data Retrieval Tool can not be used and if the college requests verification documentation, it may be necessary to obtain an official transcript from the IRS. To order tax return or tax account transcripts, visit www.irs.gov and select Order a Transcript or call the Transcript toll-free line at 1-800-908-9946
- IRS Data Retrieval Tool/FAFSA
- IRS Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center
- IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education ( PDF)
- Order a Transcript