IRS Data Retrieval Tool for FAFSA | 11.29.11

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid By Student Loan Network Staff

UPDATE – 3/14/12: Recently, the Department of Education sent an email to families who filed their FAFSA and either estimated their taxes, or selected “will file” to encourage them to go back and use the IRS data retrieval tool. Unfortunately, the email gave some families quite a shock, saying “Now that the federal tax filing deadline has passed and you have probably filed your 2011 tax returns, it is time for you to update your FAFSA”. If you received one of these emails, don’t fret! The tax filing deadline is still April 17th. The point of the email was to make sure users complete their FAFSA with accurate information, and in the process, it apparently got a little jumbled. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, there is still time, but do make sure to update your FAFSA once your taxes have been processed!

ยป Find more up-to-date information on the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for FAFSA at FAFSAOnline.com.



The IRS data Retrieval tool is a helpful resource for many parents and students filing the FAFSA. The tool allows first-time and returning applicants to pull their tax data directly from the Internal Revenue Service in order to auto-fill the tax portion of the form.

Who can use the tool

The tool works for about 80% of all filers, but in some special cases, tax information should still be inputted manually. If you meet the criteria below, then feel free to use the tool! Filers need:

  • A valid SSN
  • A filed tax return for the previous year
  • An unchanged marital status as of December 31 of the prior year

Students and parents should not use this tool if any of the following apply:

  • You did/will not file, or filed an amended tax return for the previous year
  • Your tax status is Married, Filing Separately
  • You filed taxes outside of the US

When will it be available?

The IRS data retrieval tool becomes available for the 2013-2013 FAFSA on February 1, 2012. Some of you out there may be wondering “well what do I do if I file my FAFAS before then?” and here’s the answer: Students who file before Feb 1 can use tax estimates, and file a correction once your taxes are complete. The Department of Education plans to send a email to filers who chose to estimate, as a reminder to go back and update the information. Once your taxes are filed, you can then go in and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Note: Applicants who use the IRS data retrieval tool and then manually update a field, or who opt out of using it, may be selected for verification. This means you will need to explain why your update is more accurate than what was pulled from the IRS and back it up with documentation. Hopefully this tool will make filing your FAFSA not only easier, but less time-consuming. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find time to apply for scholarships!


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31 Responses to “IRS Data Retrieval Tool for FAFSA”

  1. Janie says on March 23, 2013 at 2:13 am:

    The IRS site keeps saying I entered the incorrect information. I try different ways that the information may have been entered for my personal information but nothing is working. I fill in the form the exact way that I sent to the IRS but the IRA site keeps telling me its not correct.

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on March 25, 2013 at 11:43 am:

      Hi Janie,

      For help sorting this out, you should contact your school’s financial aid office. They should be able to tell you why it’s happening and how to fix it.

      Reply To This Comment
  2. E. Sanchez says on July 5, 2012 at 2:43 pm:

    Who ever came up with this idea of data retival tool was one of those people that only them understand what they are talking about. I have been trying to collect my information and it stated that was not there. What a bull?

    Reply To This Comment
  3. bev says on May 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm:

    I have tried to use this tool for over a week. It will not even load and open the site. I tried to do this on 3 different computers 5-6 times daily for over a week. I know that it loaded at one time, because shortly after I filed it opened the irs link,I put in my information, and it said not availabe. (I just recently filed). However, now it doesnt even open a link at all. It just goes to a white page that appears to be loading but never does. This is awful. Deadlines are approaching and I waited about submitted the update after tax filing because I was told it was “faster”. Now i have to wait weeks on a transcript from the irs. What am I going to do???

    Reply To This Comment
  4. Catherine says on May 5, 2012 at 1:48 am:

    This is ridiculous. I had no problem using this crap of innovation last year. For some reason, I just got the same thing George got. That the information is incorrect and cannot be processed. God damn it, it is not incorrect! I’m livid right now because this stupid thing is not functioning. Ugh.

    Reply To This Comment
  5. Kathy says on April 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm:

    IRS Retrival Tool worked for one s fasfa, I turned right around to use for the second s fasfa and was told the information did not match the IRS information. I have been trying for 4 hours. How can one go thru with no problem and the other not? This is beyond frustration!

    Reply To This Comment
  6. george says on April 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm:

    The IRS data retrieval tool is a disaster. Our government should be ashamed of providing such an abominable program. Now, we are all bombarding the IRS phone line(recorded voice, which is probably a good thing)with requests for hard copy tax transcripts. The FAFSA-IRS data retrieval link is either not available or forces you to select “correct your application” to get there and then the link claims your info doesn’t match. And, you run the risk of your FAFSA application now indicating that it’s incomplete. The on-line helpers are clueless.

    Are you listening FAFSA and Michelle Brown??!!

    Reply To This Comment
  7. another college mom says on April 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm:

    I have been trying for a month now to appeal my daughters fasfa her father passed away Feb23. We had filed our taxes Feb 11. I sent in all the required docs, and now they want this IRS data retrieval tool pulled that has the same info, I sent in copies of all W2′s and 1040 copies which were sent e-file what a bunch of bull. I think they make it so hard people will just give up and not file.

    Reply To This Comment
  8. Tamara Smith says on April 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm:

    I just called FAFSA and was advised that they updated this as of 4/16. Schools should now be able to use the paper copy through June….apparently there are many people having this issue.

    Reply To This Comment
  9. Taylor Sliker says on April 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm:

    The IRS data retrieval tool is not working for my mom either. She submitted her tax return a month ago and it still tells us that “you may not have filed a tax return” or something about it not being processed for so many weeks. I talked to my financial aid office and they told me to request for a tax return transcript and send that to them. But, when my mother tried to input her information to request for a transcript, it basically told her she didn’t exist in their system. Now, I’m going to have to attempt a mailed or faxed tax return transcript request form. This is completely ridiculous! It should not be this difficult to apply for financial aid. And now, I’m becoming more and more worried that everything is not going to be submitted on time. Any pointers?

    Reply To This Comment
  10. Tommy S. says on April 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm:

    Another IRS waste of time. My taxes were electronicly filed March 3rd and I still cant get the IRS tool to work. I contacted fafsa who in turn suggested I contact the IRS. IRS told me they do not troubleshoot the site but I could request a transcript which I did via telephone,online and IRS form….NONE of them worked!!!
    I contacted the IRS advocate who could care less and offered no solutions. So much for a friendlier IRS.

    Reply To This Comment
  11. sarahc says on March 31, 2012 at 9:07 pm:

    after holding forever with FAFSA and the IRS, I learned that returns with payments are posted starting May 1st after the returns with refunds are posted which is why I can’t retrieve my daughter’s information. I filed her return on February 8th, it isn’t a question of them getting paid and then it will work as they put the payment through on February 10th. Her college won’t accept anything but a completed & IRS verified FAFSA form. It appears who ever put this together didn’t bother to ask the IRS about their posting procedures which is what is at the root of the problem.

    Reply To This Comment
  12. Rosario says on March 25, 2012 at 11:00 pm:

    Omg. I used the tool for my mom’s info. I worked in 2011 also and my school needs my info. I can’t find the student tab!! This so makes me want to just drop out of school because this is a waste of my effing time.

    Reply To This Comment
  13. Falisha says on March 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm:

    This tool would be great if it worked. It has been over 8 weeks since I filed my taxes online which was stated to only take 2 weeks. It is my opinion to take this down until it is fully functional to use and not just some of the time for specific persons. I agree with everyone else, this is a frustrating waste of time.

    Reply To This Comment
  14. AimeeRae says on March 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm:

    wow…okay so like everyone else, i too have been trying to use this “tool” and like everyone else, I am getting nowhere. This is just ridiculous and a waste of time! It states to contact my F.A office, which I have and well, here I am (once again) wasting my time! Since there seems to be so many “kinks” and “issues” with this tool, might just be a good idea to get rid of it!! Just saying!!

    Reply To This Comment
  15. Fedup says on March 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm:

    This is an outrage. There was no testing of the Irs retrieval tool. Still not able to use it…its be a month since I efiled

    How anyone could vote for a party which supports big government is beyond me. Good luck when those additional 17,000 IRS agents get in between and your doctor

    God help this country

    Reply To This Comment
  16. paul pham says on March 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm:

    i can not find out the IRS Data Retrial Tool to process file to FAFSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply To This Comment
  17. College Parent says on March 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm:

    What they don’t tell you is if you owe money then your return is not processed until you pay so you can’t use the retrieval tool.

    Reply To This Comment
    • college mom says on March 15, 2012 at 10:26 am:

      Agreed! I electronically filed my taxes 2/15/12; paid my taxes & the check was cashed 3/8 & I still can’t use the data retrieval tool!

      Reply To This Comment
    • Marli Leigh says on April 11, 2012 at 7:20 am:

      It does not matter if you pay your taxes early or not. The IRS will not be processing returns that do not involve refunds until after May 1. This means that we cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, and we also cannot get an IRS Return transcript. They should not have implemented this without testing it.

      Reply To This Comment
      • Kristin says on April 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm:

        Actually the returns that owed money (whether paid at time of filing or on April 17) will not be posted until May 15! They are processed, but they have to post, which won’t happen until May 15. My consumer advocate (who has a college student and owed and in same boat) said there is a law that makes it this way and everyone needs to contact their congressperson!

  18. Jonathan says on March 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm:

    The IRS data retrieval tool…where can I find it? I keep seeing that its available on the FAFSA page but I can’t find the link to use it or something???

    Reply To This Comment
  19. Linda says on March 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm:

    Do you have to use the IRS Retrieval Tool? Or can you just go back into the FAFSA and continue manually?

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on March 14, 2012 at 9:15 am:

      If you are eligible to use it, then financial aid offices are expecting you use it. However, in many cases it does not work when it should. If you file manually, your financial aid office will either have to verify that the info is accurate with a tax transcript, or they will have you use the IRS data retrieval. I would suggest talking with your financial aid office if you are unable to use the tool for any reason.

      Reply To This Comment
  20. Kathy says on March 8, 2012 at 12:35 am:

    I have been working for 3 hours on this and the instructions are very unclear….I am getting no where! The IRS data retrieval tool is really a “joke”! There has to be a better and easier way! Very frustrating!

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on March 8, 2012 at 8:49 am:

      Unfortunately, there are a lot of bugs still with this process. It won’t necessarily work for everyone who is eligible to use it. My suggestion would be to contact your school’s financial aid office, as they can verify your tax information with a tax transcript (though this will probably take some time).

      Reply To This Comment
  21. Student Loan Guru says on February 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm:

    While the tool is technically available, there are still some kinks in the process. For example, if you filed your taxes online, it will take about 2 weeks before they are reviewed and matched via this tool. It will take about 8 weeks if you file on paper. Some financial aid offers are finding other various issues with it, so if it’s still not an option for you right away, keep checking back.

    Remember, you can always file with an estimate then correct it later if your deadline is approaching!

    Reply To This Comment
  22. Levy Li says on February 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm:

    TheIRS data retrieval tool is still not available within the FAFSA.

    Reply To This Comment
  23. Fred Buse says on February 1, 2012 at 10:21 am:

    2/1/2012 and the IRS data retrieval tool is still not available on the FAFSA. I’ve been waiting and waiting for this so that I don’t have to do it again.
    Frustrating!

    Reply To This Comment

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