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Financial Aid

5 simple steps to using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

By now you're almost done with the financial aid process. You filed your FAFSA®, received your financial aid offers, and now you're examining college costs. In the middle of these decisions, you may receive requests from colleges or the Department of Education to update your FAFSA with your 2014 tax return numbers. This is where the IRS Data Retrieval Tool comes into play.

We've received several questions on the IRS Data Retrieval Tool over the last few weeks. As mentioned in our recent blog, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is a tool on that allows you to import your 2014 tax data from the IRS directly into your FAFSA. If you filed the FAFSA with your 2013 tax information, or with estimated figures, and are now ready to amend/update the FAFSA with your new tax information, the IRS Data Retrieval tool allows you to do so quickly. Colleges like it because it guarantees that the tax information is accurate and up-to-date. Families like it because it's easy.

Here are the 5 simple steps to take to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool:

    1. Go to and select "Make a Correction" under "Returning User."

    1. Enter the student's name, social security number, and date of birth.

    1. You'll notice the various sections of the FAFSA will be listed at the top of the page. Click on "Parent Financial Information."

    1. In the first question, asking about the status of the parents' tax return, change your response to "Already completed." You will be asked to answer three questions about your tax return, and then, at the bottom of the page, you will receive the suggestion to transfer your tax information from the IRS to the FAFSA. This is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Select the appropriate parent, enter your FAFSA (parent) PIN, and click the blue "LINK TO IRS" button. You should see your information update in your FAFSA.

    1. Go to the "Sign & Submit" section and resubmit your FAFSA. Be sure that the colleges that need your updated tax information are listed on the Confirmation page.



Is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for everyone?

There are small subsets of individuals that will be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You will be unable to use the tool if you:

    • File with the 'married filing separately' tax status

    • File a foreign or amended tax return

    • File with a Tax ID Number

    • Use an address on your tax return that does not match the address listed on your FAFSA

    • Changed your marital status since the end of 2014.

If you fall into any of these categories, you will likely instead need to obtain an official tax return transcript using the "Get Transcript" link on and submit it to the college financial aid office.

If a college requires you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or submit a tax return transcript, you must comply or your financial aid will be canceled. This is extremely important to understand. Once you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or submit a tax return transcript, the college financial aid office will review the information and re-evaluate your eligibility for financial aid. If your data differs significantly from the answers you submitted on your original FAFSA, you may receive an adjustment to your financial aid offer.

If you have additional questions about using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, reach out to us here at MEFA: (800) 449-MEFA (6332) or







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