Murray Statement on Reinstatement of Financial Aid Tool for Struggling Borrowers

(Washington, D.C.) Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today issued the following statement on the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is now available for borrowers applying for and recertifying income-driven repayment for their student loans. More than 4.5 million borrowers each year utilize the Data Retrieval Tool for this purpose. The Data Retrieval Tool also helps students apply for financial aid on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and has been offline since March 3, 2017.


“I have been urging Secretary DeVos to take swift action to fix this issue and find relief for students and families—so I am pleased that the Department has taken this step to help struggling student loan borrowers. While this is a good start, more must be done and I will continue to hold the Department of Education to their word that all students will have full access to the financial aid tool by October 1st.”


Senator Murray has been requesting proactive steps from the Department to fix the Data Retrieval Tool, beginning in mid-March. She also joined colleagues in the House and Senate in calling for steps to mitigate the impact of the outage and to provide regular briefings on the status of getting the tool back up online.


In addition to the request for regular briefings, the Department is still in the process of implementing a multi-year income certification process for income-driven repayment plans. Access to student aid on the FAFSA has also been complicated by challenges with the FSA ID process. And, the Department is confronting problematic student loan servicing practices that can prevent the most vulnerable borrowers from accessing affordable loan repayment plans, which can lead to increased delinquency and default.