The FAFSA IRS Retrieval Tool to Return for Fall FAFSA Start

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James Runcie, the Chief Operating Officer for the US Department of Education’s Office of Financial Aid, provided written testimony to Congress yesterday about the return of the IRS Retrieval Tool.  He said the “encryption solution” for the software security vulnerability in the tool will be in place for the start of the 2017-2018 FAFSA cycle on October 1st, 2017.  So it will not be available for the remainder of this cycle, which will require the estimated 8 percent yet to file to manually enter that information.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has done a series of articles on the outage.  The most recent one is here:

Past articles include:


FAFSA / IRS Integration Tool Taken Down for “Criminal Activity”

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that the IRS retrieval tool at the FAFSA website was taken down because of criminal activity.  for more information see my previous post on this subject here.  According to previous reports the tool should be back up in a few weeks.

The full story is here:

The Department of Education Shuts Down a Key Tool Used to Complete the FAFSA

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The United States Department of Education has shutdown the IRS Retrieval Tool, a key tool used when filling out the FAFSA.  The FAFSA website has this announcement:

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable at this time. We regret any inconvenience.

To fill out a FAFSA, you can manually input your tax information. Remember, if you’re filling out the 2017–18 FAFSA form, your 2015 tax information is required (not 2016).

Politico reported that the IRS and the Education Department confirmed that the tool was shut off because of concerns that the data being used by identity thieves.  According to Politico the IRS and the Education Department joint statement said the action was “a precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.”  The tool could be “unavailable for several weeks.”

The absence of the tool means that students will have to enter the IRS data themselves.  Until now, the tool has been available for seven years.

MAP Grant Deadline Is This Wednesday (December 21st) for 2017-2018 Academic Year

mortar board and money

According to the JALC Student Financial Assistance Office, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission has set the suspension date for the MAP Grant.  You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid FAFSA by Wednesday, December 21, 2016, to be eligible for the funds.  Any students who complete the FAFSA on or after December 22, 2016 will not be eligible for MAP Grant funds for the 2017-2018 Academic Year.

So, make sure you have completed the FAFSA for next academic year, or complete it by Wednesday, December 21st.

Here Is Some Humor As Your Write Your Term Papers

This is “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” called “Word Crimes“.  It is from his fourteenth studio album, Mandatory Fun (2014). The original 2013 single, featured T.I. and Pharrell Williams. The song is a great spoof of the misuse of proper English grammar and usage, reflecting Yankovic’s own lyrical rigor.

Apply Critical Thinking Skills During Final Exams

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As we enter the final exam season, it is important to remember as you study to apply critical thinking to study strategies for you upcoming exams.  Finals do not just test your ability to memorize facts, many of them will be assessing your ability to reason an apply the knowledge you have gained over the semester (an in previous classes).  So it is important to demonstrate that you have mastered the thought process, concepts, problem-solving, deductions, inferences, etc., that you have learned.

According to John Chaffee, “To do well on an exam, you need to define the problem (what areas will the exam cover, and what will be the format?), identify and evaluate various alternatives (what are possible study approaches?), and then pull all these factors together to reach a solution (what will be your study plan and schedule?)” (Chaffee, 106).

You should not be surprised on you exams because the material will come from things covered in lectures, discussed in class, or were in the assigned readings.  Using critical thinking skills during exams involves taking the content you learned in class, synthesizing it to the questions being asked on the exams, and then using critical thinking to evaluate the possible answers until you find the correct one.

Chaffee provides an example of the critical thinking process:

  • Define the terms used in this test and explain their meaning in this context.
  • Gather information from different sources, such as textbooks, lectures, professional writing, etc.
  • Analyze information from multiple perspectives and from different angles.
  • Be open minded about all possible answers.
  • Approach complex problems in an orderly manner and deconstruct problems into easier to manage elements.
  • Think through the process, interpreting and evaluating the information.
  • Consider two conflicting view points, and identify the strong and weak arguments of each side.
  • Elaborate on various answers, and list pros and cons.
  • Choose the most appropriate answer to the question.

So use your critical thinking skills to prepare guide your preparation for the exam and then while taking your exams.

Source: Chaffee, John.  Thinking Critically, 11th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2015.


Apply Now: JALC Scholarship Application Deadlines

Image of the John A. Logan College Foundation Logo

This is from the JALC Foundation office:


SPRING 2017, Application Deadline: November 15, 2016

Fall 2017, Application Deadline: February 1, 2017

The John A. Logan College Foundation recently launched a new scholarship management system to help provide students with a streamlined tool to search and apply for scholarships. The software targets the 2017 general scholarship application process, which is open now.  The deadline for Spring 2017 scholarships is November 15th, 2016.  The deadline for Fall 2017 scholarships is February 1, 2017.

The general application, which matches students with available scholarships, is now shorter, taking less time to complete. The AcademicWorks system also is better able to match students with scholarships pertaining to their specific major or other scholarship-based criteria. Continue reading “Apply Now: JALC Scholarship Application Deadlines”