Or, Why You Should Always Question What The Government Tells You!

Recently, the feds at FAFSA sent out emails to students who submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) reminding them to submit a corrected FAFSA once their tax returns have been filed.

Here's the email:

When you completed your 2012-2013 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you indicated that you were going to file your taxes and were providing estimated 2011 tax information.  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.

You can update your FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.  You should change your answer on the FAFSA (question 32) to reflect that you have "already completed" your tax return.  Once you've made this change, you will need to update the information you initially reported on the FAFSA to reflect the actual information from the 2011 tax return you filed.  If you filed a federal tax return with the IRS, when you access your FAFSA online, you may be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which is the best and easiest way to provide accurate tax information.  With just a few simple steps, you can view information from your IRS tax return and transfer that information directly into your FAFSA.

If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you are still required to update the income information on your FAFSA so that it reflects the information on the 2011 tax return you filed.  The tax-related questions you should review on your FAFSA include adjusted gross income, income tax paid, number of exemptions, and income earned from work.  You should also ensure that your FAFSA correctly identifies the type of tax return that was filed (IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, foreign tax return, etc.) and that you have entered the correct amounts for Additional Financial Information (questions 43a-f) and Other Untaxed Income (questions 44a-j).

It is important that you make the necessary changes to the tax information so that your FAFSA includes the same information that was included on your tax return.  However, when making corrections based on your completed federal tax returns, do not update other information that was correct at the time you filed your FAFSA.  For example, do not change your answer for household size (question 93) or for number in college (question 94); unless your answer was incorrect as of the date your FAFSA was originally signed.

Your ability to receive federal student aid can be impacted if you do not make the necessary updates or corrections.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  If you have additional questions regarding the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, online help is available.  Visit www.fafsa.gov and click the "Browse Help" feature on the FAFSA home page for information on the tool and the FAFSA process.

U.S. Department of Education
Federal Student Aid

Great, as far as the feds reminding students to submit a corrected FAFSA upon filing tax returns goes. Not so good as to timing!

While the folks at Fed Ed tell us that, "the federal tax filing deadline has passed and you have probably filed your 2011 tax returns...", in fact, the federal tax filing deadline is not until April 17th! As Maxwell Smart would have said, "Missed it by that much!"

Anyway, having given the masses near heart failure, the feds offered up a mea culpa (of sorts) to the confused and confounded, by way of follow-up email entitled, Correction to "Updates Needed to Your FAFSA" Message:

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.

U.S. Department of Education
Federal Student Aid

Well, the feds finally got it right -- and it only took two attempts. Good thing they didn't send a similar email to millions of taxpayers advising that their tax returns -- as of March 13 -- were late! [Hopefully, they didn't cc the IRS on that initial email! LOL]

Which just goes to prove that old adage, we suppose: "To err is human. To really screw up takes the power of government!" :-)

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The road to college -- and finding the means to pay the tolls along the way -- begins at College Connection. Visit College Connection on the web at www.CollegeConnect.info. Speak with a College Connection counselor at 516-345-8766