Problems with an Internal Revenue Service system for verifying financial aid is preventing some students from getting their grants and loans funded, but the IRS says help is on the way.
The problem surrounds the IRS’ Get Transcript service, used to file tax information needed to receive financial aid. Normally, the system allows some students’ families to verify their income for college financial aid by directly accessing the necessary IRS documents. But according to the Washington Post, the service has been down since at least Jan. 2.
Requesting the material from the IRS by mail would normally take two weeks, the report said. However, there could be delays there too, since unlike the Department of Education, the IRS is affected by the federal government’s partial shutdown.
For its part, the IRS said the Get Transcript tool was “unavailable due to system maintenance” and advised students to check the site for updates. Several news reports quoted IRS spokesperson Matt Leas as saying the stoppage wasn’t connected to the government shutdown and that the system should be back up around Jan. 14.
That said, the outage comes during the high traffic volume of the spring semester financial aid season, and the reports cited school administrators saying the issue was causing confusion and delaying aid payments for many students.
“This caught us all off guard,” National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) President Justin Draeger told Politico. He said there had been no advance warning about the maintenance issue, which is rare.
Meanwhile, a separate NASFAA statement said that the group had contacted the Department of Education, which was now “working to release verification guidance on alternative forms of documentation imminently.”
If you’re impacted by the Get Transcript service going offline, a good first step would be to contact your school’s financial aid office. Some are instituting workarounds until the IRS system is back up and running, reports said.
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