ED Closes In on Reprocessed FAFSAs, Provides Temporary Filing Fix for Mixed-Status Families

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Managing Editor

The Department of Education (ED) announced on Tuesday that it has developed a new process to streamline 2024-25 FAFSA completion for applicants and contributors without a Social Security number (SSN), in order to enable this group to immediately access and submit the online form.

Tuesday’s announcement follows the department’s notice that it has reprocessed and delivered "nearly all" Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs)  impacted by known issues, including Federal Processing System (FPS) errors as well as erroneous data transferred to the FAFSA via the FUTURE Act Direct Data Exchange (FA-DDX) to institutions and states.

“We are pleased to see the Department make forward progress on its timeline to provide accurate student FAFSA information to colleges and universities, so they can complete the work of packaging and delivering financial aid offers to students,” said NASFAA President & CEO Justin Draeger. “It is worth noting that while we are on the cusp of May 1, which is traditionally known as ‘College Signing Day,’ many students are still waiting for critical financial aid information to make their college-going decisions — largely due to this year’s delays and data inaccuracies.”

The process has been even more fraught for applicants from families with mixed immigration status, where one or more contributors do not have an SSN, Draeger noted.

In order to allow individuals without an SSN to complete the 2024-25 FAFSA, the department will temporarily allow individuals whose identity has not yet been validated to complete and submit the FAFSA before the validation process is completed; however, they must manually enter their tax information. Students who do not have an SSN will be required to verify their eligible noncitizen status through their school before they receive any federal funds.

“We are encouraged to see progress in communication and transparency, and we are hopeful that the Department’s temporary fix announced earlier today will clear the way for more applicants from mixed-status families to complete the FAFSA,” Draeger said. “Unfortunately, for many families, the damage may have already been done, and the proposed solution still does not fully offer mixed-status families the full benefits of the simplified form.”

This process will only remain available until the IRS data retrieval issues for individuals without an SSN are resolved. ED said it will continue to work on a resolution and provide updates on timing “as soon as possible.”

ED also said it will work “expeditiously” to complete the manual identity validation process outlined in Tuesday’s guidance.

The department reminded schools that they are required to ensure that a student’s identity and citizenship status is verified before disbursing federal student aid. Guidance for meeting these requirements can be found in the Student Aid Handbook.

Schools can direct students and families who have questions about citizenship status and the impacts it can have on their eligibility for federal student aid to Federal Student Aid (FSA).

The announcement also detailed the department’s upcoming, targeted FAFSA completion campaign to raise awareness over FAFSA completion. ED is particularly focused on states that have the largest FAFSA completion gaps. Per the department’s data these states include Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas.

According to ED, there is also a “sizeable” number of students who have started but not yet submitted their FAFSA form. In order to boost completion rates, ED will begin sending weekly communications to these students and their contributors.

ED Under Secretary James Kvaal also stressed that students should check their application status on StudentAid.gov and ensure their form has been accepted.

“It’s time for schools to package and send aid offers, and for all new and returning students considering going to college this fall to come to StudentAid.gov and complete a Better FAFSA,” Kvaal said, citing the department’s progress in resolving issues with the form. “The Department’s top priority is to bring higher education more in reach for more students, and we know that the better FAFSA can help unlock those opportunities.”


Publication Date: 5/1/2024

Marcela G | 5/1/2024 12:44:07 PM

So, is the actual process we can do to help our students summit their FAFSA's? Where are the directions so we as advisors can help them. Please send instructions quickly.

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