Breach Brief – FAFSA

Published On April 4, 2017 | By Tom Huskerson | Breach Briefs

Applying for federal student aid  just got a lot harder for students and families. FAFSA or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid was breached and the IRS has taken part of the system offline.

According to Federal officials the online service known as the Data Retrieval Tool was shut down and will stay offline until the next application period. The service allowed students and families to import their tax information automatically to an already complex form used to secure federal student aid.

As a result of the shut down applicants will have to fill out their tax information manually using old tax returns. This time consuming task could slow down or even block some students from getting student financial aid. This is especially troubling as black and minority students lean more heavily on financial aid than their white counterparts.

Justin Draeger, president and chief executive of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators  said, “Its not impossible, but it it’s going to make it more difficult. Not everybody has access to their prior year’s return.”

Officials removed the online tool in early March after suspicions were raised that identity thieves may have stolen personal information using information found, or stolen, elswhere.  It is suspected the thieves used the information to steal additional information from FAFSA and the IRS.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency couldn’t risk the safety of taxpayer data. “Protecting taxpayer data has to be the highest priority, and we will continue working with (the Education Department office that handles student aid) to bring this tool back in a safe and secure manner.”

For students and families who are not in possession of copies of their tax returns, the IRS reccomends contacting their tax preparer or checking the tax software they used to file their returns.  Filers can also contact the IRS for a tax transcript that includes a summary of previously filed tax returns.

Students and parents should check the FAFSA website for application deadlines.

Officials reported that the  data tool will remain offline until the start of the next FAFSA season begins Oct. 1.

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About The Author

Tom Huskerson Bio Born in Richmond Virginia Tom Huskerson is a military veteran who settled in California after his discharge. He attended Santa Barbara City College where he began his writing career as a campus reporter. He worked as an intern news reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press writing feature stories before moving on to San Francisco. At San Francisco State University Tom studied broadcast communications and began to focus on the Internet. He completed his graduate thesis on Internet advertising. Tom was the first student to ever focus on the Internet as a graduate student at San Francisco State University. After graduation he went to work for Zona Research in California’s Silicone Valley. As a research associate Tom supported senior analyst writing on the latest developments in the Internet industry. During the dot com boom Tom worked for several web businesses as a market researcher and analyst. As a writer and researcher Tom has authored various technical works including a training program for Charles Schwab security. Other projects included professional presentations on workplace violence and hiring security contractors. Tom has returned to focus on writing both fiction and non-fiction works and blogging for a travel website. He has published two books of short stories and completed two novels. Tom is the owner of Scribe of Life Literature and EbonyCandle. Most recently Tom has launched the blog African American Cyber Report. The blog is the result of his desire to inform the African American community of the dangers and benefits of the cyber age. In his blog Tom reports on information security, new and analysis, scams and hoaxes, legal happenings and various topics that arise from the age of information. Tom believes that technology is a necessary tool for black people and they should know what is happening. Tom writes believing that techno speak is for the professional and that valuable information can be communicated using plain language. As a result he has embraced the motto, Less Tech, More Knowledge.

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