One thing that I spend a lot of time on is helping people prepare their FAFSA forms for college. (FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.) Well, the IRS has a “data retrieval tool” that you can use to just import your tax return information right into your FAFSA application. How cool is that?
This is the information that I received from the IRS:
Use the IRS Data Retrieval tool when applying for a student loan
If you are a student or parent you can now access your IRS tax return information using the 2012-2013 IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This is an easy and secure way to access and transfer your tax return information directly into your Free Application for Federal Student Aid form.
If you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, we highly recommend using the tool for several reasons:
- It’s the easiest way to provide your tax data.
- It’s the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA has accurate tax information.
- You will not need to provide a copy of your or your parents’ tax returns for your financial aid application.
Who can use it?
If you or your parents meet the following criteria, you’ll be given the option to retrieve, display and transfer your federal tax information:
- If you filed a 2011 tax return
- If you have a valid Social Security Number
- If you have a Federal Student Aid PIN
- If you do not have a PIN, you will be given the option to apply for one
- If your marital status has not changed since Dec. 31, 2011.
Who should not use it?
If any of the following conditions apply to you or your parents, you should not use this tool:
- If you filed an amended federal tax return for 2011
- If you did not file a federal tax return for 2011
- If your 2011 federal tax filing status is married filing separately
- If you filed both a federal tax return and a foreign return
If you do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to provide tax information and your college requests a copy of your tax return or your parents’ tax return, you may be required to obtain an official tax transcript from the IRS. To order tax transcripts, go to Order a Return or Account Transcript at www.IRS.gov.
Okay, it’s back to me talking again. One last thing about the FAFSA – it’s free! Make sure you go to the right website to complete your FAFSA application; this is it: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. There’s a fake FAFSA website where they charge you money to apply, so make sure that you’re on the official website. The IRS will only link with the real FAFSA site, so that’s another clue you’re in the right place. And good luck with college!