Students, parents upset over federal loan changes

- The process for college students and their parents to apply for a federal loan just got a lot harder.

Without warning, the U.S. Department of Education eliminated the Data Retrieval Tool from fasfa.ed.gov.  The tool allowed for tax information to automatically be pulled from the IRS onto FASFA forms, simplifying the process.

Members of from U.S. House and Senate education committees sent a leader to secretary Betsy DeVos demanding an explanation.

Like many universities, the change has forced Eckerd College in St. Pete to extend loan deadlines.  Dr. Pat Watkins, director of financial aid, says her office is fielding dozens of phone calls from concerned parents.

“They’re panicking now,” Watkins said.  “The Department of Education has not said anything, [other than] they say it may be up and running in several weeks.”

Privacy and identity theft concerns are the Department of Education’s reasons for pulling the tool.

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