Posted Date: March 12, 2012

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

Subject: E-Mail Notifications to 2012-2013 Applicants Encouraging Use of IRS Data Retrieval Tool (Updated March 14, 2012)

Note: On March 14, 2012 we updated this announcement by removing the attachment, which contained the e-mail notification text. Our reason for doing so is that an error was discovered in the first group of e-mail notifications that were sent on March 13, 2012 to students and parents. This e-mail incorrectly stated that the federal tax deadline has passed.

The Federal Student Aid Information Center has added information to its automatic messaging and Web chat regarding the issue and is advising callers of the situation.

Please refer to the subsequent March 14, 2012 electronic announcement for further information.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool offers Title IV applicants and parents of dependent applicants the option to transfer certain tax return information from an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Web site directly to their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Web application or correction. This data transfer process, in place since the 2009-2010 Award Year, reduces time, effort, and data entry for FAFSA applicants and their parents. It also improves data accuracy and consistency, and institutions have seen a reduction in verification obligations due to their students’ use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

As part of our ongoing effort to expand IRS Data Retrieval functionality usage by applicants, we are initiating an e-mail notification process in mid-March 2012 that targets early FAFSA filers, as well as students who file later in the cycle and do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, even if eligible to do so. As schools are aware, applicants often provide estimated income information on their initial FAFSA on the Web application in order to meet early school and/or state deadlines. Similarly, applicants and parents who have filed their federal tax return may submit their application before the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is available for use on FAFSA on the Web, or choose not to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool at all.

The goal of the e-mail notification campaign is to encourage applicants and their parents to return to FAFSA on the Web after completing their tax returns, access Correction Entry functionality, and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer their information from the IRS. These actions will result in a new, more accurate Central Processing System (CPS) transaction upon which financial aid administrators (FAAs) can determine a student’s eligibility for aid.

The schedule and text of the notifications will be tailored to two different sets of applicants and parents of dependent applicants: “estimators,” whose current CPS transaction indicates a “will file” tax return status for the student and/or parent, and “filers,” whose current CPS transaction indicates a tax return has been filed with the IRS, but the financial information was not transferred from the IRS.

In this announcement, we provide the following information regarding the IRS Data Retrieval Tool e-mail notifications that will be sent beginning in mid-March 2012:

  • Notification Selection Criteria

  • Notification Distribution Schedule

  • Notification Text

Notification Selection Criteria

“Estimator” Group

To identify students and parents in the “estimator” group, the CPS database will be queried in mid-March 2012 to identify records where the last transaction meets any of the following conditions:

  • Dependent student with Parents’ Tax Return Completed status of 2 (Will File)

  • Dependent student with Student’s Tax Return Completed status of 2 (Will File)

  • Independent student with Student’s Tax Return Completed status of 2 (Will File)

Records which meet any of the above criteria will then be checked for the following conditions:

  • Professional Judgment Flag is not equal to 1 (EFC Adjustment Processed)

  • NSLDS Loan Status Codes are not equal to DD (Defaulted, then Died) or DE (Death)

Records that meet these conditions will be selected for the “estimator” version of the e-mail notification.

“Filer” Group

To identify students and parents in the “filer” group, the CPS database will be queried in early April 2012 to identify records where the last transaction meets either of the following conditions:

  • Dependent student with Parents’ Tax Return Completed value of 1 (Already Completed), Parents’ Type of 2011 Tax Return Used value of 1 (1040) or 2 (1040A or 1040EZ), and Parents’ IRS Request Flag value of blank, 01, or 05 (these values indicate the IRS Data Retrieval Tool was not yet implemented for 2012-2013 when the application was filed, the tool was unavailable due to the application method used, or that the parent elected not to transfer data from the IRS using the tool)

  • Dependent or independent student with Student’s Tax Return Completed value of 1 (Already Completed), Student’s Type of 2011 Tax Return Used value of 1 (1040) or 2 (1040A or 1040EZ), and Student’s IRS Request Flag value of blank, 01, or 05 (these values indicate the IRS Data Retrieval Tool was not yet implemented for 2012-2013 when the application was filed, the tool was unavailable due to the application method used, or that the student elected not to transfer data from the IRS using the tool)

Records which meet either of the above criteria will then be checked for the following conditions:

  • Professional Judgment Flag is not equal to 1 (EFC Adjustment Processed

  • NSLDS Loan Status Codes are not equal to DD (Defaulted, then Died) or DE (Death)

Records that meet these conditions will be selected for the “filer” version of the e-mail notification.

Notification Distribution Schedule

Distribution of e-mail notifications for the “estimator” group will begin on March 13, 2012. Just prior to May 8, 2012, the CPS database will be queried a second time to identify records where the last transaction meets the same “estimator” conditions as those for the first notification.  Records that still meet these conditions will be selected for second follow-up notifications.

Distribution of e-mail notifications for the “filer” group will begin on April 1, 2012.

Notification Text

Both the “estimator” and “filer” versions of the e-mail notifications encourage the student or parent of a dependent student to return to FAFSA on the Web, determine if he or she is eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, and then use the tool (if eligible) to transfer the tax return information filed with the IRS and create a new CPS transaction. The notifications also discourage the student or parent from revising data that was accurate at the time the FAFSA was filed, such as household size or number in college.

The “estimator” e-mail notifications also instruct the student or parent of a dependent student to update FAFSA questions #32 and #79, which are the tax filing completed questions, from a "will file” status to a “completed” status, even if all other income information on the FAFSA is correct.

To review the full text of the e-mail notifications that will be sent to students and parents, refer to the attachment to this announcement. Sample notifications are provided for both the "estimator" group and the "filer" group in both English and Spanish.

Contact Information

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 CPSSAIG@ed.gov.

You can also post questions to FSATECH. FSATECH is an electronic mailing list for technical questions about Federal Student Aid systems, software, and mainframe products. For more information on subscribing to FSATECH, go to http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/services/fsatechsubscribe.html.

   

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