The IRS Data Retrieval Tool
Again in 2014-15 most applicants will need to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) when completing the FAFSA. This online tool allows you to transfer your completed IRS tax return data directly to your FAFSA while using FAFSA on the Web to complete your FAFSA. Please note these items:
- The 2014-2015 IRS Data Retrieval Tool became available on Feb. 2nd. However, please keep in mind that the IRS did not begin processing most tax returns until Jan. 31 due to the Federal government shutdown, so some FAFSA filers will experience a delay in their abilility to use the IRS DRT since it takes about two weeks from the date you file your tax return until the data becomes available to be rolled over into the FAFSA via the DRT. If possible, we recommend that you wait to complete your FAFSA until you have filed your taxes and your tax data is available via the DRT, assuming that you can still meet all applicable deadlines. The process will be more difficult for those selected for verification if they did not use the DRT.
- If you estimate your income when completing your FAFSA, around March 15th, you will receive an e-mail reminder to update the FAFSA with completed tax information. This is really from U.S.E.D. and is not a 'phishing’ email. You should make this update if you are able at that time.
- Students and parents who were eligible to use the IRS DRT but didn’t, will receive an e-mail notification encouraging them to return to FAFSA on the Web and use the DRT. These e-mails will be sent around the beginning of April 2014 or within 60 days of when you file your FAFSA.
Verification for 2014-2015
If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you are required to provide your school with documents to verify the accuracy of your FAFSA data.
- Continuing into the 2014-15 year, verification requirements will be more specific to the student. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will be placed into one of several groups defining the specific items you are required to provide. Don't worry, the Messiah College Financial Aid Office will inform you of exactly what you need to send us. You just need to wait to hear from us.
- In the past, income information was verified by the submission of signed copies of the IRS 1040. This is no longer acceptable. The best way to meet this requirement is to complete the IRS DRT as described above. If the DRT option does not work for you, an IRS transcript will be required for verification instead of a copy of the 1040. You will need to contact the IRS and order a tax transcript by one of these methods:
- On-Line - The IRS online ordering method, Order A Transcript, makes ordering simple.
- Phone"You may also request transcripts at1-800-908-9946.
- By Mail: Use IRS Form 4506T Request for Transcript of Tax Return.
- NEW FOR 2014: You can download a copy of your tax transcript directly from the IRS website. This will allow you to very quickly get your transcript. Be aware that it will take a few minutes to set up your account on the IRS site (necessary to use this function), and you will need to know the answers to some specific questions about your finances. This information is used to establish your identity and it could take a few minutes for you to research these questions. Nonetheless, most people will be able to use this capability to get their transcript within a few minutes and we recommend this as the best option if you cannot use the DRT.
- If you are a non-tax filer and you are selected for verification, you will need to send your school a copy of IRS Form W-2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2013. You will also need to submit a signed statement certifying that you have not filed, and are not required to file, an income tax return for tax year 2013. This statement must detail the sources of income earned from work as reported on the FAFSA and amounts of income from each source for tax year 2013 that is not on W-2s. Please note that the information mentioned in this paragraph is collected in Messiah College's Financial Information Verification Form, which will be sent to you if you need to proivde this information. It is not necessary for you to send a separate statement.
Important Change in Institutional Financial Aid Policy
One Semester Limit on Institutional Aid for Approved Off-Campus Programs: Beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, Messiah College students are permitted to use one semester of institutional financial aid at a set of approved off campus programs. This is a change from previous policy that allowed the use of up to two semesters of institutional aid for these programs. A list of these programs is available from the Intercultural Office. A student who has used one semester of institutional financial aid for an off-campus program can attend additional semesters of these programs, but the only financial aid available for those additional semesters would be from state, federal and other external sources.