FSA Announces Welcome Changes to FSA ID

By Megan Walter, Policy and Federal Relations Staff

Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced last week that starting March 31, 2019, it will be implementing changes to the FSA ID process. The FSA ID currently provides students and families access to a multitude of Department of Education (ED) related websites. Most notably, an FSA ID is needed for students and families to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), to access National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), and to complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling and the Master Promissory Note on StudentLoans.gov.

Currently, students or their parents must enter the username attached to their FSA ID to log into their account. FSA will improve upon this process by allowing the user to register their phone number to their account, and use that number in the place of a username. Once a student or parent registers their phone number, they can use it to reset their password, unlock their FSA ID account, or retrieve their username.

Other improvements include removing the requirement for passwords to be changed every 18 months, removing the requirement to include special characters in passwords, lockout warnings when an incorrect password has been used a certain number of times, and warnings when email addresses that may have access expiration dates associated with them (e.g. .edu, .k12, etc) are used as the account’s primary email address.

NASFAA and others had raised concerns in the past over the complexity of the FSA ID process, and the issues Financial Aid Administrators and the students they serve were experiencing, and commend FSA for implementing these changes.


Publication Date: 3/26/2019

Victoria F | 3/28/2019 6:50:10 PM

This seems like a very student-centered approach which could dramatically reduce password recovery and reset time.. I hope that we will provide guidance to the FSAA assisting students with these processes, of how very critical it will be to protect their mobile device in light of its access to a piece of identification that is used to sign legally binding loan docs.

I have noticed for the last two years that the requirement for a special character did not seem to be actively enforced as many students, including myself, did not require one when resetting their FSA ID passwords.

In addition, I agree that being able to reuse a password would be a good idea. Half of the time, I find that the student has not, in fact, forgotten their password, but has finger fumbled while typing it. Perhaps we could limit the cycle to five previous passwords used.

Vickie C | 3/26/2019 4:48:23 PM

Now if they would just fix the craziness we have to go through when we reset our passwords. I'm all for security, but it has gotten absurd.

Aesha E | 3/26/2019 10:50:02 AM

I'm a little bit concerned about some of these changes. I mentioned on Twitter that I wonder if anyone at FSA has heard of sim jacking and understands how simple it is to do--and what fraudulent activity may arise as a result (including obtain). I'm also VERY surprised that they're taking out the requirement for special characters; most organizations *add* that as a requirement in order to increase security, not remove it. I would think if we're seeking ease of use, allowing reuse of passwords would be a better move (similar to what it used to be, where--for FAAs, at least--you couldn't reuse a password you'd used in the last 12 password cycles or so).

Kenneth C | 3/26/2019 10:23:03 AM

These are great improvements. It will dramatically increase the speed at which FAFSAs can be processed since students won't have to spend 30 minutes after resetting their passwords.

Carolyn P | 3/26/2019 9:55:55 AM

This is a good move in my opinion. It should reduce the number of issues with students and parents being locked out or frustrated with the process.

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