Every participant will only access and complete their
section of the FAFSA
The new FAFSA will be roles-based. What does this mean? There will no longer be a single view of the FAFSA that allows an individual, say the student or a parent, to complete the entire application. Instead, the student will start the application, answer all student
questions, and invite their parent to complete the parent section.
Many first-generation and low-income students take the lead in completing their FAFSA, with the help of us counselors, and get their parent involved for the electronic signature. This will no longer be possible since the student won’t have access to the parent sections of FAFSA. Parent outreach and
coordination on behalf of the counseling team will be more important than ever.
Every participant must have an FSA ID
The FAFSA will be a web-based, electronic application that requires authenticated FSA
(Federal Student Aid) ID logins. Today, an FSA ID requires the contributor to have a Social Security number (SSN) to confirm identity. The Department of Education is working on a solution, with target availability this August, to allow a student or a parent without an SSN to create an FSA ID through third-party verification, like TransUnion.
Eligibility for federal student aid only requires the student to be a citizen or have eligible citizenship status. A parent without an SSN may not have legal residency status, or be outside the US, and understandably may be resistant to creating an FSA ID through this new process. How will this new identity requirement impact these students? Counselors will need to provide earlier guidance and encouragement in creating an FSA ID, as well as understand alternate paths when
a parent or student refuses to create one.
Every participant must allow the IRS to share tax information
The simplified FAFSA will have fewer questions because it will
require all participants to give consent to the IRS to share their tax returns with the Department of Education (DOE) to complete the income information. This new process, which gets rid of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, means the FAFSA can only be completed once that IRS data is provided to the DOE. If consent isn’t given, the student and parent will have to complete a paper FAFSA and go through additional verification steps.
This will be problematic for families that haven’t filed their taxes on time, may be the victims of identity theft, or don’t file US returns because they are not US
citizens. As well, Congress legislated that a parent can revoke their consent at any time, including after federal aid has been processed. This would invalidate the FAFSA and put the federal aid offered in jeopardy of being taken away. The DOE doesn’t have answers to what they intend to do when this may occur.
Final thoughts and questions
students and families will experience a truly simplified FAFSA with more automation, fewer questions, and less verification. However, simplification for some will result in new complexities for others, and our community needs to prepare to support these students. What other issues do you see arising from the new application process?
2024-25 FAFSA delay and its implications for fall admissions
Check out the previous piece with Matt DeGreeff from Middlesex School that discusses the 2024-25 FAFSA delay under December 2023 and its implications for admissions this fall.