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FAFSA Online Data Breach Discussed in Testimony

Testimony last week before the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee offered details on a breach involving the data-retrieval tool used to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”). According to Timothy Camus of the Investigations at the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, hackers used taxpayers’ personal information to begin the FASFA application process and gain access to their adjusted gross income via the data-retrieval tool. Around 100,000 taxpayers were impacted by the data breach, causing the FAFSA online tool shut down in March . More on the FAFSA data breach testimony is available on the Journal of Accountancy website.

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Online FAFSA Tool Temporarily Down for Months

An online tool used by students to help them complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”) might be unavailable for several months. In a joint statement last week, the Department of Education and Internal Revenue Service said the tool will be down until security protections are implemented. The added security measures are aimed to protect the taxpayer data of those who submit an application. Students should expect the tool to be back at the start of the next FAFSA season on October 1. More on the FAFSA online tool is available on the Inside Higher Ed website.

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FAFSA Changes Draw Mixed Responses

The Department of Education has announced that starting with the 2017-18 academic year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”) will be released months earlier and the application deadline will be pushed up to October 1. In addition to the new schedule, FAFSA applications will automatically use the most recent federal tax data, which is a shift from having applicants estimate their family’s income data. While higher education groups believe the FAFSA changes will lead to a more simplified financial aid process, college access advocates feel the earlier deadlines could make it difficult for low-income students to receive aid.. Read More.

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Future Changes Coming to FAFSA List

After ending the practice of sharing a student’s college preferences with higher institutions, the Department of Education plans to further restrict how it shares data information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, state agencies will receive a randomized order in which students list their desired colleges on the FAFSA form. The decision will likely impact how much financial aid state officials award, as well as create a burden on students who apply. For more on the Education Department’s proposal to limit FAFSA information , check out the full article on the Inside Higher Ed Web site.

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