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Get in the Know: The Latest FAFSA Updates (March 2024)

The Department of Education has finally fixed a key issue on the FAFSA online form that was affecting students with contributors, such as parents or spouses, who lack a Social Security Number (SSN). Thanks to recent updates, contributors without an SSN but with a verified FSA ID can now log in to complete their section of the form or start an application for their student. The Department has also started to process submitted FAFSAs, and students could start receiving their financial aid offers as soon as mid-April.


Contributors Without an SSN


  • Before the fix, if a parent without an SSN tried to start the FAFSA for their student, they'd get a confusing error message on the "Student Information" page. It wrongly told them they were "unauthorized to act on behalf of the student since they already have a 24-25 FAFSA form" – even if the student hadn't yet started one. This issue has now been resolved.

  • There was also an issue where contributors without an SSN couldn't help with the form, even if the student started the application and invited them. That roadblock's been cleared! Contributors who were stuck before can now log into FAFSA.gov and do their part of the online form once the student invites them.

Note that the Department still recommends that the student start the application and then bring in their parent to avoid any glitches.

 

While significant progress has been made, some issues remain:

 

  • Currently, all contributors without an SSN must manually enter their financial details and are encouraged to include their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if available.  Once a permanent fix is established, the Department plans to pull federal tax information directly from the IRS and, if required, will update the FAFSA forms to include any changes.

  • Some students are hitting a snag when inviting contributors without an SSN. If there's a mismatch in personal information or if multiple invites get sent out with different details, an error message pops up. Until these issues are resolved, the Department advises waiting before sending such invitations as it is working to resolve this issue in the coming days.


The Department has released a new tips document in English and Spanish to assist students with contributors who don't have an SSN. Students can access the new tips document and sign up to receive updates on issues affecting students with such contributors at the FAFSA Contributor Updates page.

 

Resolved Issues


In addition to addressing issues for contributors without an SSN, the Department has resolved four key issues that were affecting the FAFSA submission process:


  1. Students entering an Alien Registration Number that ends in zero can now save and submit the FAFSA form without issues.

  2. Students born in the year 2000 were experiencing a loop to the Unusual Circumstances Page. This loop has been effectively resolved.

  3. Users upgrading their limited account to a full FSA ID account can now enter the FAFSA.

  4. Applicants changing their citizenship status from eligible non-citizen can now submit their applications without problems.

 

New Open Issues


In the latest round of updates, several new issues have been identified:


  • Student Aid Index (SAI) Calculation: For those contributors who had to report their finances separately and together earn more than $60,000, there was an oversight in the FAFSA system where their assets weren't counted in the Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation. This is being adjusted as applications are processed, which means the SAI on your FAFSA Submission Summary might not match the estimate you initially received in your confirmation email. If you're in the group that wasn't prompted to provide asset information due to this issue, you'll have the opportunity to update your FAFSA with this information when the “Make a Correction” feature is up and running near the end of March.

  • Missing Family Size Information: If your FAFSA form is missing the family size information, it can't properly calculate your Student Aid Index (SAI), but the FAFSA Submission Summary currently doesn't specify this as the reason. To fix this, a contributor will need to go in and add the correct family size information when the “Make a Correction” feature is up and running near the end of March.

  • Browser Compatibility: The “My Activity” section of the StudentAid.gov dashboard may not load in certain internet browsers for users with existing FAFSA applications. The Department recommends using Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, or Google Chrome for the best experience.


Wrapping It Up


Remember to keep an eye on the official FAFSA Updates page for all the latest news and resources. Also, in the following weeks, students being processed will receive an email updating them that their FAFSA Submission Summary can be viewed. Wishing you the best of luck as you start your college journey!

Comments


4/9: ADVISING UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS

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