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Financial Aid

Word of the Day Wednesday: IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)

Each Wednesday, MEFA features a Word of the Day, where we highlight a word (or sometimes a phrase) related to the college planning process. This month, we’re focusing on vocabulary related to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), the financial aid application you’ll need to send to every college

Today’s Word of the Day is IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

Are you ready to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or update the information on your FAFSA?  Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool might be the best way for you to do so. This tool is available every year at the beginning of February.

In using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, students and parents access their IRS tax return information and transfer the data into their FAFSA electronically in order to answer several financial questions.

Here are three reasons why you may want to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool:

  1. It’s the simplest way to provide your tax return information.

  2. It ensures that you have provided accurate tax data on your FAFSA.

  3. It will likely mean that you will not be required to send a copy of your tax return (and your parents’ return) to your college.

To access the tool, you'll need to indicate on the FAFSA that you have "already completed" your tax return. Once you've made that indication, you will be prompted to use the tool in order to access your tax return data.

There are some restrictions on who can use the tool. To determine if you are eligible, go to to review eligibility.

If you do not qualify or choose not to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, a college or university may require a copy of both student and parent tax return transcripts to verify the income information listed on the FAFSA.

Why does this matter to you?

Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (if you are eligible) will ensure that your accurate income information is reported on the FAFSA. Submitting accurate information means that a college or university will likely not need to request verification of your FAFSA income information, which may cause delays in the awarding of the financial aid package.

If you have questions about the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, contact us here at MEFA at (800) 449-MEFA (6332) or

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