Some college students were unsure they’d be able to pay their tuition on time, due to the government shutdown.
Since the IRS is not fully staffed during the shutdown, students couldn’t access some of the documents they need to submit to apply for financial aid. According to Rebecca Babel, Director of Financial Aid at Northern Illinois University, some students could use an online data retrieval tool to access the documents, but the tool doesn’t work in certain cases. For example, if a student needs to submit multiple tax returns, both their own and their spouse’s, the tool can’t be used.
But the Department of Education issued guidance to schools last week, allowing them to accept alternative documentation of income. Students can now submit signed personal copies of tax returns, as opposed to the official transcript from the IRS. These new rules apply to next school year as well. Some students still can’t use the online data retrieval tool until the IRS resumes normal functioning.
Babel says the new rules mean all students will receive their financial aid on time, though, avoiding an overdue tuition bill and late fees.