Higher education has gotten more expensive each year, but fortunately, financial aid has increased as well. The best way for your clients to get it for themselves, or for their children, is by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA can open the door to $150 billion in government student aid! As your clients’ financial advisor, you can provide them with information that can help them save time during the FAFSA application process.
You can let your clients know that their application will depend on their income information, which needs to match what the government has on file with the IRS. Fortunately, the IRS helps minimize the time spent on the completion of the FAFSA form, as well as potential mistakes, by automating access to federal tax returns with its Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). This tool enables applicants to automatically transfer the required tax data onto the FAFSA form.
Here are some helpful tip and tricks regarding the IRS DRT that you can pass on to your clients who are applying for FAFSA:
- You can use the IRS DRT as long as two weeks have passed since your income tax returns were filed with the IRS.
- The tool can be access from the finance section of the FAFSA application, which will take you directly to the IRS website. There, you will provide certain information (as it appears on your tax return) that will enable you to review the tax information before it’s transferred to your application. Once you return to the FAFSA application, the financial information from your tax return will be filled in automatically.
- If you used income estimates on your application because you haven’t filed your income tax return, or because not enough time has passed since you did, you should use IRS DRT to provide the actual numbers, once they are available in the system. In order to update your financial information, you simply need to go the “Make FAFSA Corrections” tab and confirm that your taxes have been filed. You will then be directed to follow the instructions to the IRS DRT, so that you are able to transfer the tax information just as you would have if your returns had been filed before you applied.
Please note: Your clients may not be able to use the IRS DRT tool if you haven’t filed, or aren’t filing, their return. If that is the case, your clients will need to enter the financial information manually.