Posted Date: March 14, 2012

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

Subject: Issue Alert: Incorrect Text Regarding IRS Deadline in IRS Data Retrieval Tool E-mail Notifications Sent to 2012-2013 Applicants

As described in the March 12, 2012 electronic announcement posted to the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site, we initiated an e-mail notification campaign this week directed at 2012-2013 applicants and their parents who did not, for various reasons, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on FAFSA on the Web on their initial application. The e-mail notifications encourage these individuals to return to FAFSA on the Web, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer tax information, and submit a correction record.

We began sending the initial round of e-mail notifications on March 13, 2012, focusing on "estimator" applicants and parents of dependent applicants whose current CPS transaction indicates a "will file" tax return status for the student and/or parent. After this distribution began, we were alerted that the e-mail text erroneously states that the "federal tax deadline has passed." The deadline for filing 2011 federal tax returns continues to be April 17, 2012.

This oversight occurred because we originally planned to initiate this e-mail campaign in May 2012, after the federal tax filing deadline had passed. We subsequently revised our distribution schedule to begin this week, but overlooked the impact to the notification text we had already finalized. We regret this oversight and the inquiries you may have received from impacted students and their parents as a result.

We are currently planning to distribute a follow-up e-mail notification to the estimated 2.6 million recipients of the original message explaining the text error. The subject line of the follow-up e-mail will read “Correction to ‘Updates Needed to Your FAFSA’ Message,” and the e-mail text will read as follows:

  • We recently sent an e-mail advising you to update your tax data on the FAFSA once you have filed your tax return. Please note that the e-mail stated in error that the federal tax filing deadline has passed. You should disregard that sentence. The federal tax deadline this year is April 17. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. You should still update the tax information on your FAFSA after you file your federal taxes, and we strongly encourage you to do that by importing your 2011 income tax information from the IRS into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

We are currently revising e-mail notification text for the remaining 700,000 e-mails we plan to send to the "estimator" group of 2012-2013 applicants. The e-mail will remind applicants that the tax deadline is approaching, and they will need to update their FAFSA after they have filed their taxes.

Note: The second round of e-mail notifications to "estimator" applicants and parents of dependent applicants is scheduled to be distributed in early May 2012. For this distribution, the current text will accurately state that the federal tax filing deadline has passed.

Also, note that the second phase of this e-mail notification campaign, scheduled to begin in April 2012, is not affected by this text issue. As described in the March 12, 2012 electronic announcement, this second distribution will focus on "filer" students and parents whose current CPS transaction indicates a tax return has been filed with the IRS, but the financial information was not transferred from the IRS.

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.

   

End of Page