WASHINGTON - Scores of prospective college students nationwide are scrambling to meet an extended deadline to apply for financial aid after the suspension of an online data tool by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
As if applying for financial aid wasn't already a headache, the IRS and U.S. Department of Education removed an integral web-based tool earlier this month with little notice, affecting many people trying to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
In light of this, the FAFSA deadline has been extended to April 15 in most states, although it does vary by state.
On March 9, the IRS posted it had suspended the online tool that would automatically fill in your tax return information for part of the FAFSA application. The IRS said the temporary suspension was done as a precautionary step after concerns the personal information could potentially fall into the hands of identity thieves.
“The details are very strenuous,” said college student Danielle Fiondella. “There are a lot of things you have to go through with FAFSA and everything. I understand the process of it on a technical level, but it's definitely not easy for students who need it.”
“It's not awful, but it mainly takes forever,” said college student Chloe Shostak. “It is super time consuming and also the standards for it are very, very strange. They are really high and they don't take a lot of things into account.”
The online tool that was disabled was created in 2010 and made it easier for applicants to submit their tax data instead of having to find copies of their tax returns to manually enter the information.
On its website, the IRS said the Data Retrieval Tool on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov would be unavailable for several weeks.