WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 16, 2017
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, respectively, and Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), chair and ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, respectively, sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today asking for more information about the cause and scope of the outage of the Internal Revenue Services’ Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
“We appreciate the initial actions taken by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to address this issue, and we are writing to obtain further information about the cause and scope of the outage and the steps the Department and the IRS will take to assist students and families that are impacted,” said the members of Congress in the letter.
“The availability of the [Data Retrieval Tool] saves families and individuals time, streamlines the application process, and improves accuracy of applications. Unfortunately, the DRT appears to have been unavailable since the end of the first week in March, and the joint statement indicates that it will be “several weeks” until the DRT will be back online. The loss of the DRT could discourage many eligible low-income students from applying for aid or IDR plans altogether.”
The IRS’ DRT tool allows students to access their tax information from the IRS and directly input it into their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Sens. Alexander and Murray, and Reps. Foxx and Scott are requesting a briefing from the Department of Education on the steps the department is taking to remedy the situation for students, borrowers, and parents, and what the department is doing to protect students’ data privacy and security.
The full letter is available here.
# # #