IRS tool for borrowers back online soon; Plan for simpler income-driven repayment; Inequities in affordability

IRS Data Retrieval Tool Outage Complicates Financial Aid Applications and Student Loan Repayment for Millions, Back Online for Borrowers Soon

In March, the U.S. Department of Education announced the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) would be offline until the fall to address security concerns. The DRT lets students and borrowers easily transfer their tax information into the online FAFSA and application for IDR plans. Without it, millions of aid applicants and student borrowers will have a harder time getting needed aid or keeping their loan payments manageable.

Through blog posts, coalition letters, and media interviews, we have urged the Department to better communicate with students and borrowers about the outage, help them navigate the new complexities, and restore DRT access as soon as possible. TICAS has led efforts to limit the harm to student loan borrowers as well as financial aid applicants, calling for user-friendly solutions to be implemented as quickly as possible. The Department has now committed to having a more secure and still simple DRT online by the end of this month (May) for IDR purposes, although it won't be available for the FAFSA until October.

Read our blog posts on the outage and options for borrowers and aid applicants

Roadmap for Streamlining and Improving Income-Driven Repayment for Federal Student Loans

This month TICAS released a practical roadmap for designing an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that works better for both students and taxpayers. With longstanding bipartisan support for IDR, there's also agreement on the need to simplify and improve it, but not on how best to proceed. Some approaches to IDR reform could harm the lowest income borrowers or have unintended consequences for college costs and debt. Make it Simple, Keep it Fair: A Proposal to Streamline and Improve Income-Driven Repayment for Federal Student Loans recommends drawing on the best features of the five current IDR plans to create one improved plan that's fair and well-targeted, caps monthly payments at 10% of income, and provides tax-free loan forgiveness after 20 years of payments.

Read the report and press release
For more information about income-driven repayment, visit our IDR Resources Page

Lowest Income Students Face Highest Cost Burdens at 2- and 4-Year Public Colleges in All 50 States

A sobering new analysis from TICAS finds striking inequities in public college affordability, both within and across states. College Costs in Context: A State-by-State Look at College (Un)Affordability analyzes affordability at 2- and 4-year public colleges. It focuses on the share of family income required to cover the net price paid by students at each income level. While college costs are high relative to family incomes for most students in most states, the lowest income students face the most extreme and unrealistic financial expectations. For families that earn $30,000 or less, the share of total income required to cover their average net price is 77% at 4-year schools and 50% at community colleges-more than double the burden placed on any other income group.

Read the analysis
Download the data (sortable by state and sector), press release, and additional graphics

Thanks for Telling Congress to #DefendCFPB

Earlier this year we warned you that the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's independence and very existence face threats from the White House and Congress, and urged you to tell lawmakers why the CFPB matters to you. A big thanks to more than 900 of you who made your voice heard, joining 400,000 Americans nationwide who urged Congress to oppose efforts to weaken the CFPB! We'll keep you informed as things unfold.

Income-Based Repayment and Pay As You Earn are two ways to help keep monthly payments affordable based on your income and family size. Visit the Department of Education’s Repayment Estimator to find out what your payments might be.

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