Posted Date: February 6, 2012

Author:  William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Issue Alert: Inaccurate IRS Request Flag on 2012-2013 ISIRs Processed Prior to February 5, 2012

We are alerting all schools to an issue at the Central Processing System (CPS) that caused the IRS Request Flag of "05" to be set incorrectly on 2012-2013 Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) created since 2012-2013 processing began on January 3, 2012. This issue impacted approximately 630,000 transactions. This issue was resolved with the implementation of the 2012-2013 IRS Data Retrieval Tool on February 5, 2012.

Issue Background

After receiving reports of this issue from several schools, we verified that, in the period between January 3, 2012 and February 5, 2012, the CPS incorrectly set student/parent IRS Request Flags (ISIR field numbers 175 and 176, respectively) to a value of “05” for students/parents who indicated on their FAFSA on the Web applications that they had filed their 2011 federal taxes.

Normally, an IRS Request Flag value of “05” indicates the student or parent was presented with the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool in FAFSA on the Web but elected not to use it. However, in the case of 2012-2013 records processed prior to February 5, 2012, the “05” value does not accurately convey the student's or parent’s actions on the FAFSA on the Web site, as the IRS Data Retrieval Tool was not available at that time. The flag should have been set to blank, indicating the IRS Data Retrieval Tool was not available.

Issue Workaround/Resolution

No CPS reprocessing is planned for this issue, as the IRS Request Flag value does not impact or signify a student’s eligibility for federal student aid. With the launch of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on February 5, 2012, IRS Request Flags (including the value “05”) are now being set correctly on 2012-2013 ISIR transactions.

If you plan to develop communications to your students urging them to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, we recommend that you identify 2012-2013 ISIR transactions in your system processed prior to February 5, 2012 with an IRS Request Flag value of “05” and provide the same communication to those applicants as you would to those with an IRS Request Flag value of blank. In the communication you provide, we recommend you encourage applicants to return to FAFSA on the Web and access their processed FAFSA, answering the newly displayed questions that determine if they are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Applicants who use the Tool to transfer their tax information will generate a new ISIR transaction with more accurate IRS Request Flag values.

In addition, we will send a reminder in the coming months to students and parents who indicated that they had filed 2011 federal taxes but did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Note: For more information regarding the 2012-2013 IRS Data Retrieval Tool, including the criteria that are used to identify eligible applicants, refer to the 2012-2013 Summary of Changes for the Application Processing System guide, available on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site.

For the 2013-2014 Award Year we will modify the CPS to ensure that applicants using FAFSA on the Web prior to the availability of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool are assigned a blank student and/or parent IRS Request Flag rather than an “05” value to reduce confusion.

Contact Information

We regret any inconvenience this issue may have caused you. If you have any questions regarding this message, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806) or by e-mail at


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