Federal Student Aid Service Doesn't Know When The Federal Tax Filing Deadline Is

UPDATE: FAFSA has sent out an email correcting their earlier assertion that the deadline to file federal income taxes has already passed. They’ve admitted they were wrong and apologized for any confusion.

Consumerist reader Bryan keeps us in the loop, forwarding the email he recently received from FAFSA:

We recently sent an e-mail advising you to update your tax data on the FAFSA once you have filed your tax return. Please note that the e-mail stated in error that the federal tax filing deadline has passed. You should disregard that sentence. The federal tax deadline this year is April 17. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. You should still update the tax information on your FAFSA after you file your federal taxes, and we strongly encourage you to do that by importing your 2011 income tax information from the IRS into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

U.S. Department of Education
Federal Student Aid

Short and sweet.

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Calendars are a handy thing. You simply look at it, note the month and then date, and you know what’s what. Any tax-paying adult probably doesn’t even have to look at a calendar to know that the deadline for filing your federal income taxes is always mid April. This year, it’s April 17. Unfortunately, not all federal agencies are as tuned in as the rest of us, as our reader Rachel found out.

She says she submitted her FAFSA recently for 2012-2013, and was patiently awaiting for her 2011 taxes to be filed so that she can update the application with the exact information for last year. And yes, this is from FAFSA, not FASFA.

“Imagine my surprise when I got this email yesterday March 13,” she says, which starts:

Dear RACHEL,

When you completed your 2012-2013 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you indicated that you were going to file your taxes and were providing estimated 2011 tax information. Now that the federal tax filing deadline has passed and you have probably filed your 2011 tax returns, it is time for you to update your FAFSA.

Say what now? The deadline is April 17, more than a month away. Silly FAFSA people!

Not only are they confused on the date right away, they continue throughout the entire letter to be like, “You’re so in the wrong here and it’ll impact your ability to get aid, but guess what, we’re going to be nice and tell you what to do about it.”

You can update your FAFSA at http://www.fafsa.gov. You should change your answer on the FAFSA (question 32) to reflect that you have “already completed” your tax return. Once you’ve made this change, you will need to update the information you initially reported on the FAFSA to reflect the actual information from the 2011 tax return you filed.

Yeah but, she didn’t complete her tax return yet, and time’s not up yet. Someone get HR to train those guys on month and date recognition, stat.