Posted Date: April 15, 2014

Author:  Lisa DiCarlo, Director, Student Experience Group, Federal Student Aid

Subject: E-Mail Notifications to 2014-2015 FAFSA Applicants Encouraging Use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

As part of our ongoing effort to expand usage of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) by applicants and parents, we have initiated an e-mail notification process to encourage those who provided estimated federal tax information or who chose not to use the IRS DRT to go back to FAFSA on the Web and submit corrections to their FAFSA.  This correction submission will result in a more accurate Central Processing System (CPS) transaction upon which financial aid administrators (FAAs) can determine a student’s eligibility for aid.

As schools are aware, applicants and the parents of dependent applicants often provide estimated income information on their initial FAFSA 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 DRT is available for use in FAFSA on the Web, or choose not to use the IRS DRT at all.

The goal of the e-mail notification campaign is to remind these applicants and parents they need to provide accurate and final federal tax return information on the FAFSA.

2014-2015 notifications will be sent to applicants and the parents of dependent applicants whose most recent CPS transaction indicates a “Will File” tax return status for the student and/or parent.  Notifications will also be sent to applicants and parents who indicate they have “Already Completed” their tax return, but did not transfer their tax return information into the FAFSA using the IRS DRT.

In this announcement, we provide the following information regarding the e-mail notifications that we began sending in early April 2014:

  • 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 was queried in early April 2014 to identify records where the last transaction met any of the following conditions:

  • Dependent student with Parents’ Tax Return Status value of 2 (Will File)
  • Dependent student with Student’s Tax Return Status value of 2 (Will File)
  • Independent student with Student’s Tax Return Status value of 2 (Will File)

Records which met any of the above criteria were then 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 met these conditions and had a valid e-mail address on file with the CPS were 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 mid-May 2014 to identify records where the last transaction meets any of the following conditions:

  • Dependent student with Parents’ Tax Return Status value of 1 (Already Completed), Parents’ Type of 2013 Tax Return Filed value of 1 (1040) or 2 (1040A or 1040EZ), and Parents’ IRS Request Flag value of blank, 01, or 05
  • Dependent student with Student’s Tax Return Status value of 1 (Already Completed), Student’s Type of 2013 Tax Return Filed value of 1 (1040) or 2 (1040A or 1040EZ), and Student’s IRS Request Flag value of blank, 01, or 05
  • Independent student with Student’s Tax Return Status value of 1 (Already Completed), Student’s Type of 2013 Tax Return Filed value of 1 (1040) or 2 (1040A or 1040EZ), and Student’s IRS Request Flag value of blank, 01, or 05

Note:  The IRS Request Flag value of blank indicates the IRS DRT was not yet implemented for 2014-2015 when the application was filed.  The IRS Request Flag value of 01 indicates the Tool was unavailable due to the application method used.  The IRS Request Flag value of 05 indicates the student or parent was presented with the option to use the IRS DRT, but did not use it to transfer data from the IRS.

Records meeting the criteria above 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 and have a valid e-mail address on file with the CPS will be selected for the “filer” version of the e-mail notification.

Notification Distribution Schedule

Distribution of initial e-mail notifications for the “estimator” group began in early April 2014. Just prior to May 8, 2014, 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 follow-up notifications.

Distribution of e-mail notifications for the “filer” group will begin in late May. Subsequent messages for filers will be sent every 45 days until mid-September 2014, and then every 60 days until the end of the cycle, to students and parents who meet the criteria for notification and have not previously been sent a notification.

Notification Text

Both the “estimator” and “filer” versions of the e-mail notifications encourage the student or parent to return to FAFSA on the Web, determine if he or she is eligible to use the IRS DRT, and then use the Tool (if eligible) to transfer the tax return information filed with the IRS into the FAFSA to 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 instruct the student or parent to update the tax filing status questions from a "Will File” status to an “Already 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.

Attachments/Enclosures:

2014-2015 Estimator and Filer E-mail Text in Microsoft Word Format, 30KB, 12 Pages

   

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