Students and Their Parent Scramble After IRS Takes Down Financial-Aid Tool - Association of Certified College Funding Specialists

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Students and Their Parent Scramble After IRS Takes Down Financial-Aid Tool

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Students and Their Parent Scramble After IRS Takes Down Financial-Aid Tool

Some college applicants are scrambling to get their application for college financial aid filed by the deadline, and then guess what, the IRS decided to take down their data retrieval tool amid hacking and security concerns.

This online data retrieval tool automatically transfers a student’s tax history information to their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application, and many education groups are freaking out because they say it is a key part of families getting their financial aid award letters on-time from the colleges.

No worries though, because the good ol’ IRS has the solution on their website. However, since it was so difficult for me to even locate this “solution”, I decided to post it here for any advisor dealing with this client issue.

How Do I Get My Tax Transcript To File My FAFSA Form?

Note: As part of a security effort, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA website has been temporarily suspended. However, IRS offers alternatives for the retrieval of any income information you may need from your tax return.

The IRS reminds taxpayers to plan ahead and take advantage of other options to obtain a tax transcript while work continues to bring the viewable/printable functionality of the Get Transcript application back online in the near future with enhanced identity protection security features.

In the meantime, taxpayers don’t have to wait. They can order their transcript online, over the phone or by mail — the quickest options available. If they plan ahead, they should receive their transcript within five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request online.

Here are some tips for fast service:

To order a transcript online and have it delivered by mail, go to and use the Get Transcript tool. Simply click the "Get Transcript by Mail" button. To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts.

To request an individual tax return transcript by mail or fax, complete Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

Keep in mind that the current year’s transcript availability is affected by the method used to file the return and whether the return includes a refund or balance due. Taxpayers should use this chart to determine when they can order a transcript.

A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return that the taxpayer filed as well as changes that were made during processing, such as math error corrections. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules filed with the tax return. It doesn’t reflect any amended returns or adjustments to tax made after the taxpayer filed their original return.

A tax account transcript includes marital status, the type of return filed, adjusted gross income and taxable income. It also includes a record of tax payments, refunds, penalty and interest charges and adjustments to tax made after the original return was filed.

If the taxpayer needs an exact copy of their original or amended tax return, there a charge of $50 for each return/year requested. They should complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to make the request. Mail it to the IRS address listed on the form for their area. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. Taxpayers should allow 75 days for delivery.

The IRS will mail the transcript to the address of record entered on the prior year’s tax return. The mailed transcript is an official document. It does not need to be a “certified” copy as is the case with some other documents. If a taxpayer has moved since they last filed a tax return with the IRS, they need to first submit Form 8822, Change of Address, to ensure that the transcript is mailed to the correct address. Allowing time for the Form 8822 is another reason for taxpayers to plan ahead for their transcript needs.

Financial Aid Applicants

If you are applying for financial aid, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA website to import your tax return information to your financial aid application. The temporary shutdown of the Get Transcript tool does not affect the Data Retrieval Tool. You may also click on the FAFSA help page for more information.

If you need a copy of your transcript you should follow the information above to request it as soon as possible. It takes five to ten days for transcripts to arrive at the address the IRS has on file for you.




Ron Them

Ron developed and trademarked the CCPS® (Certified College Planning Specialist) designation. For over 20 years, the nation's leading financial advisors, broker/dealers, and major media outlets have been using his research, funding strategies, training, and insight. Ron is highly regarded as an expert in the college funding field.

He is a former Chief Financial Officer of a Fortune 500 company and currently owns his own financial advisory company specializing in cash flow planning for business owners and executives. He developed the Cash Flow Recovery™ process that uses cash flow management principals to increase asset value and build wealth for business owners.

He is also the originator of several software calculators to help advisors and families make college affordable, including:

  • College QuikPlan EFC Calculator
  • "Find the Money" College Cash Flow Calculator
  • College Debt Reduction Calculator

Ron has been quoted in U.S. News and World Report, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Smart Money, Financial Advisor Magazine, Small Firm Profit Report, Practical Accountant, LIMRA's Market Facts, Senior Advisors Magazine, HR Magazine,, Employee Benefit News Magazine,, Entrepreneur Magazine, Insurance Selling Magazine,, The Christian Voice, and Columbus CEO Magazine.


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