On one of the Financial Aid Bulletin Boards that I read, another FAFSA DRT bug has been reported. It appears if the DRT system is used to bring in the student’s tax information into the FAFSA, some student fields are being populated with Parent tax information such as the tax filing status. There are other student fields being populated with incorrect data, also.
It is unclear if it is causing a problem with the EFC calculation but it is a problem for the colleges who receive the FAFSA data since it will be flagged as an error.
With the previous FAFSA DRT bug of the single parent and now the student tax info being in error, we highly recommend that families submit the FAFSA manually at this time. As we have stated earlier with the new DRT security method only colleges can make corrections once the DRT system is used.
Understanding DRT Timing
The DRT process was initially designed to automate the verification of FAFSA/ IRS data. This saved both the college financial aid offices and families the need to submit paper tax returns to the colleges. It is only needed at the college where the student is planning to attend.
Some colleges prefer that you use the DRT process since this assists them in pre-verification of the financial award. This is not required just a preference of the college financial aid process. The DRT system sets a flag for the colleges to see that the data is verified.
Prior to the 2016 FAFSA, a manual FAFSA submission was done first and then the DRT was used after it processed through the IRS system. You are still able to submit the FAFSA manually and use DRT later.
Due to the recent FAFSA/ DRT bugs, we believe all FAFSA should be submitted manually at this time. This will allow the submitting family more control and flexibility in the process. We are hoping that these problems will be resolved. If the problems are resolved then the student and family can use the DRT process. The college that the student commits to attend only needs the DRT verification.
It is critical that the family uses the 2016 tax information to complete the manual submission. If the manual submission does not match the DRT information, the student has the risk of the financial award letter changing once the data is verified by the college.
We will keep you up to date on the developments of the FAFSA DRT bug problems and the best ways to submit the FAFSA.