WASHINGTON—The National Governors Association (NGA) today released a statement on the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the IRS estimate will be offline through the fall:
“Governors agree it is critical to secure taxpayer information and understand the challenge of maintaining strong data systems. The nation’s governors call on the IRS and ED to leverage all available resources and bring the DRT back online before the fall. In addition, all possible options should be explored to provide students and institutions with a short-term solution until this issue is permanently resolved.
As governors work to make college more affordable and expand access to higher education, the FAFSA DRT outage creates a significant barrier for millions of students and their families. Those burdens and the institutional verifications triggered by the absence of the DRT could delay or hinder the federal student aid process at colleges and universities across the country. Delays could also complicate state-based financial aid awards because of states’ reliance on federal student aid data to make determinations.
No matter how quickly the issues with the DRT are addressed, NGA asks the ED specifically to take the following actions to mitigate the effects of this outage on students and institutions:
- Provide clear step-by-step guidance for students completing FAFSA applications and institutions that will be asked to verify student FAFSA applications to assist each with the application process until the DRT is restored;
- Take additional steps to prepare the Federal Student Aid Call Center for an increased volume of student and institution inquiries and ensure operators are equipped to walk applicants through DRT alternatives; and
- Increase institutional flexibility for student income verification requirements while colleges and universities experience a likely increased volume of verifications during the DRT outage.”