FSA ID: What You Need To Know and Other FAFSA Tips

February 26, 2024

The U.S. Department of Education released a long-awaited new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year with a soft launch in January. This process, which is required for students to receive federal college assistance and most state and private aid, was intended to be simpler and more streamlined for students and families than the previous iteration. 

The updated version, at this point in time, has not lived up to this ambition. 

Th FAFSA rollout has been fraught with issues and technical problems including narrow windows of availability, barriers to access for many students and families, substantial errors to the Student Aid Index that have mis-estimated the assistance families are likely to receive, and technical glitches that have made it impossible for students to submit their applications. And many of the issues have not yet been resolved; the process continues to be confusing and fluid. 

These delays also mean that colleges and universities will not receive the critical information from the federal government until March–rather than the typical January timeframe–further delaying the timeline for when students will learn their financial aid offers and shortening the window to make high stakes, life-changing decisions about where they will attend college. 

The result of this troubled process has been a sharp decrease in the number of students and families who have completed the FAFSA at this point in the year as compared to previous cycles. An analysis from the National College Attainment Network found that “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions for the class of 2024 were down about 57% compared to last year’s seniors, and the national FAFSA submission rate stands at just 16% through January 26.” With this backdrop, the need for counselor support for students and families is greater than ever. Though it can be complicated to know how to best guide students and families as the information continues to evolve, here are three steps you can take now.

Help students and families obtain FSA IDs.

FSA IDs are a critical first step to complete FAFSA. FSA IDs require a multi-step, multi-day process–students, parents, and other contributors must initiate creating an FSA ID and then wait 1-3 days for verification to be able to use the IDs to begin the application process. Helping students and families set up their FSA IDs immediately can result in a much smoother process once they are able to complete the entire FAFSA form. To support this:

  • Make sure students and families understand that setting up the FSA ID is the first step and requires multiple days before they can begin filling out the FAFSA as well as multi-factor authentication with an email or phone.  
  • Coach students on the need to use an email address or phone number they have regular access to now and will continue to have access to after high school graduation. For instance, using a school-related email address will inhibit future access in subsequent years. 
  • Counselors should anticipate that students will need to use a personal email address to set up their FSA IDs, but are often blocked from school firewalls. Finding ways to set up external hot spots or partner with the local library system can be important to facilitate this process. 
  • With the multitude of technical issues this year, it is especially important to encourage students and families to select “yes” for mobile account recovery when setting up their FSA IDs. Doing this will allow them to receive a recovery code, sent via text message to their phone, if they get locked out of the system while completing the FAFSA. 

Follow the updates and connect families with resources and support as needed.

In typical years, families who had issues completing FAFSA could reach out to the national call center help lines to resolve issues. This year, with so many uncertainties and evolving challenges and glitches, the call center is overwhelmed and has left callers with significant wait times. With this in mind, utilizing websites that share updates or that identify common issues along with ways to troubleshoot can be vital. Use these links to stay up-to-date with the most current information and share with students and families to empower them with information. 

  • Use this website from the Department of Education to learn about common issues and potentially find a solution to challenges or glitches students and families are encountering. 
  • Social media accounts often have the most up-to-date announcements. Consider following Federal Student Aid on X for the latest information.
  • If families cannot find answers to their questions in any other way, they can use the National Call Center Help Lines. Warn them that they may be required to wait for a substantial amount of time and to make sure they call when they are able to stay on the line. 
  • If students have attempted to submit their FAFSA but made errors, share with them that corrections are not yet able to be made but will be starting in mid-March. 

Helps students to think ahead and plan for the future.

Though many students and families typically associate applying for financial aid with the college application process, it is important to share with students and families that they will have to go through these steps annually while in college. They will need access to the same FSA ID, the email address associated with it, and all the other corresponding credentials. Counselors can coach families and students to take notes–possibly saved in their computer or phone–to use as a resource in subsequent years when they are less likely to have the intensive support of a high school counselor. 

The U.S. Department of Education released a long-awaited new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year with a soft launch in January. This process, which is required for students to receive federal college assistance and most state and private aid, was intended to be simpler and more streamlined for students and families than the previous iteration. 

The updated version, at this point in time, has not lived up to this ambition. 

Th FAFSA rollout has been fraught with issues and technical problems including narrow windows of availability, barriers to access for many students and families, substantial errors to the Student Aid Index that have mis-estimated the assistance families are likely to receive, and technical glitches that have made it impossible for students to submit their applications. And many of the issues have not yet been resolved; the process continues to be confusing and fluid. 

These delays also mean that colleges and universities will not receive the critical information from the federal government until March–rather than the typical January timeframe–further delaying the timeline for when students will learn their financial aid offers and shortening the window to make high stakes, life-changing decisions about where they will attend college. 

The result of this troubled process has been a sharp decrease in the number of students and families who have completed the FAFSA at this point in the year as compared to previous cycles. An analysis from the National College Attainment Network found that “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions for the class of 2024 were down about 57% compared to last year’s seniors, and the national FAFSA submission rate stands at just 16% through January 26.” With this backdrop, the need for counselor support for students and families is greater than ever. Though it can be complicated to know how to best guide students and families as the information continues to evolve, here are three steps you can take now.

Help students and families obtain FSA IDs.

FSA IDs are a critical first step to complete FAFSA. FSA IDs require a multi-step, multi-day process–students, parents, and other contributors must initiate creating an FSA ID and then wait 1-3 days for verification to be able to use the IDs to begin the application process. Helping students and families set up their FSA IDs immediately can result in a much smoother process once they are able to complete the entire FAFSA form. To support this:

  • Make sure students and families understand that setting up the FSA ID is the first step and requires multiple days before they can begin filling out the FAFSA as well as multi-factor authentication with an email or phone.  
  • Coach students on the need to use an email address or phone number they have regular access to now and will continue to have access to after high school graduation. For instance, using a school-related email address will inhibit future access in subsequent years. 
  • Counselors should anticipate that students will need to use a personal email address to set up their FSA IDs, but are often blocked from school firewalls. Finding ways to set up external hot spots or partner with the local library system can be important to facilitate this process. 
  • With the multitude of technical issues this year, it is especially important to encourage students and families to select “yes” for mobile account recovery when setting up their FSA IDs. Doing this will allow them to receive a recovery code, sent via text message to their phone, if they get locked out of the system while completing the FAFSA. 

Follow the updates and connect families with resources and support as needed.

In typical years, families who had issues completing FAFSA could reach out to the national call center help lines to resolve issues. This year, with so many uncertainties and evolving challenges and glitches, the call center is overwhelmed and has left callers with significant wait times. With this in mind, utilizing websites that share updates or that identify common issues along with ways to troubleshoot can be vital. Use these links to stay up-to-date with the most current information and share with students and families to empower them with information. 

  • Use this website from the Department of Education to learn about common issues and potentially find a solution to challenges or glitches students and families are encountering. 
  • Social media accounts often have the most up-to-date announcements. Consider following Federal Student Aid on X for the latest information.
  • If families cannot find answers to their questions in any other way, they can use the National Call Center Help Lines. Warn them that they may be required to wait for a substantial amount of time and to make sure they call when they are able to stay on the line. 
  • If students have attempted to submit their FAFSA but made errors, share with them that corrections are not yet able to be made but will be starting in mid-March. 

Helps students to think ahead and plan for the future.

Though many students and families typically associate applying for financial aid with the college application process, it is important to share with students and families that they will have to go through these steps annually while in college. They will need access to the same FSA ID, the email address associated with it, and all the other corresponding credentials. Counselors can coach families and students to take notes–possibly saved in their computer or phone–to use as a resource in subsequent years when they are less likely to have the intensive support of a high school counselor. 

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The U.S. Department of Education released a long-awaited new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year with a soft launch in January. This process, which is required for students to receive federal college assistance and most state and private aid, was intended to be simpler and more streamlined for students and families than the previous iteration. 

The updated version, at this point in time, has not lived up to this ambition. 

Th FAFSA rollout has been fraught with issues and technical problems including narrow windows of availability, barriers to access for many students and families, substantial errors to the Student Aid Index that have mis-estimated the assistance families are likely to receive, and technical glitches that have made it impossible for students to submit their applications. And many of the issues have not yet been resolved; the process continues to be confusing and fluid. 

These delays also mean that colleges and universities will not receive the critical information from the federal government until March–rather than the typical January timeframe–further delaying the timeline for when students will learn their financial aid offers and shortening the window to make high stakes, life-changing decisions about where they will attend college. 

The result of this troubled process has been a sharp decrease in the number of students and families who have completed the FAFSA at this point in the year as compared to previous cycles. An analysis from the National College Attainment Network found that “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions for the class of 2024 were down about 57% compared to last year’s seniors, and the national FAFSA submission rate stands at just 16% through January 26.” With this backdrop, the need for counselor support for students and families is greater than ever. Though it can be complicated to know how to best guide students and families as the information continues to evolve, here are three steps you can take now.

Help students and families obtain FSA IDs.

FSA IDs are a critical first step to complete FAFSA. FSA IDs require a multi-step, multi-day process–students, parents, and other contributors must initiate creating an FSA ID and then wait 1-3 days for verification to be able to use the IDs to begin the application process. Helping students and families set up their FSA IDs immediately can result in a much smoother process once they are able to complete the entire FAFSA form. To support this:

  • Make sure students and families understand that setting up the FSA ID is the first step and requires multiple days before they can begin filling out the FAFSA as well as multi-factor authentication with an email or phone.  
  • Coach students on the need to use an email address or phone number they have regular access to now and will continue to have access to after high school graduation. For instance, using a school-related email address will inhibit future access in subsequent years. 
  • Counselors should anticipate that students will need to use a personal email address to set up their FSA IDs, but are often blocked from school firewalls. Finding ways to set up external hot spots or partner with the local library system can be important to facilitate this process. 
  • With the multitude of technical issues this year, it is especially important to encourage students and families to select “yes” for mobile account recovery when setting up their FSA IDs. Doing this will allow them to receive a recovery code, sent via text message to their phone, if they get locked out of the system while completing the FAFSA. 

Follow the updates and connect families with resources and support as needed.

In typical years, families who had issues completing FAFSA could reach out to the national call center help lines to resolve issues. This year, with so many uncertainties and evolving challenges and glitches, the call center is overwhelmed and has left callers with significant wait times. With this in mind, utilizing websites that share updates or that identify common issues along with ways to troubleshoot can be vital. Use these links to stay up-to-date with the most current information and share with students and families to empower them with information. 

  • Use this website from the Department of Education to learn about common issues and potentially find a solution to challenges or glitches students and families are encountering. 
  • Social media accounts often have the most up-to-date announcements. Consider following Federal Student Aid on X for the latest information.
  • If families cannot find answers to their questions in any other way, they can use the National Call Center Help Lines. Warn them that they may be required to wait for a substantial amount of time and to make sure they call when they are able to stay on the line. 
  • If students have attempted to submit their FAFSA but made errors, share with them that corrections are not yet able to be made but will be starting in mid-March. 

Helps students to think ahead and plan for the future.

Though many students and families typically associate applying for financial aid with the college application process, it is important to share with students and families that they will have to go through these steps annually while in college. They will need access to the same FSA ID, the email address associated with it, and all the other corresponding credentials. Counselors can coach families and students to take notes–possibly saved in their computer or phone–to use as a resource in subsequent years when they are less likely to have the intensive support of a high school counselor. 

The U.S. Department of Education released a long-awaited new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year with a soft launch in January. This process, which is required for students to receive federal college assistance and most state and private aid, was intended to be simpler and more streamlined for students and families than the previous iteration. 

The updated version, at this point in time, has not lived up to this ambition. 

Th FAFSA rollout has been fraught with issues and technical problems including narrow windows of availability, barriers to access for many students and families, substantial errors to the Student Aid Index that have mis-estimated the assistance families are likely to receive, and technical glitches that have made it impossible for students to submit their applications. And many of the issues have not yet been resolved; the process continues to be confusing and fluid. 

These delays also mean that colleges and universities will not receive the critical information from the federal government until March–rather than the typical January timeframe–further delaying the timeline for when students will learn their financial aid offers and shortening the window to make high stakes, life-changing decisions about where they will attend college. 

The result of this troubled process has been a sharp decrease in the number of students and families who have completed the FAFSA at this point in the year as compared to previous cycles. An analysis from the National College Attainment Network found that “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions for the class of 2024 were down about 57% compared to last year’s seniors, and the national FAFSA submission rate stands at just 16% through January 26.” With this backdrop, the need for counselor support for students and families is greater than ever. Though it can be complicated to know how to best guide students and families as the information continues to evolve, here are three steps you can take now.

Help students and families obtain FSA IDs.

FSA IDs are a critical first step to complete FAFSA. FSA IDs require a multi-step, multi-day process–students, parents, and other contributors must initiate creating an FSA ID and then wait 1-3 days for verification to be able to use the IDs to begin the application process. Helping students and families set up their FSA IDs immediately can result in a much smoother process once they are able to complete the entire FAFSA form. To support this:

  • Make sure students and families understand that setting up the FSA ID is the first step and requires multiple days before they can begin filling out the FAFSA as well as multi-factor authentication with an email or phone.  
  • Coach students on the need to use an email address or phone number they have regular access to now and will continue to have access to after high school graduation. For instance, using a school-related email address will inhibit future access in subsequent years. 
  • Counselors should anticipate that students will need to use a personal email address to set up their FSA IDs, but are often blocked from school firewalls. Finding ways to set up external hot spots or partner with the local library system can be important to facilitate this process. 
  • With the multitude of technical issues this year, it is especially important to encourage students and families to select “yes” for mobile account recovery when setting up their FSA IDs. Doing this will allow them to receive a recovery code, sent via text message to their phone, if they get locked out of the system while completing the FAFSA. 

Follow the updates and connect families with resources and support as needed.

In typical years, families who had issues completing FAFSA could reach out to the national call center help lines to resolve issues. This year, with so many uncertainties and evolving challenges and glitches, the call center is overwhelmed and has left callers with significant wait times. With this in mind, utilizing websites that share updates or that identify common issues along with ways to troubleshoot can be vital. Use these links to stay up-to-date with the most current information and share with students and families to empower them with information. 

  • Use this website from the Department of Education to learn about common issues and potentially find a solution to challenges or glitches students and families are encountering. 
  • Social media accounts often have the most up-to-date announcements. Consider following Federal Student Aid on X for the latest information.
  • If families cannot find answers to their questions in any other way, they can use the National Call Center Help Lines. Warn them that they may be required to wait for a substantial amount of time and to make sure they call when they are able to stay on the line. 
  • If students have attempted to submit their FAFSA but made errors, share with them that corrections are not yet able to be made but will be starting in mid-March. 

Helps students to think ahead and plan for the future.

Though many students and families typically associate applying for financial aid with the college application process, it is important to share with students and families that they will have to go through these steps annually while in college. They will need access to the same FSA ID, the email address associated with it, and all the other corresponding credentials. Counselors can coach families and students to take notes–possibly saved in their computer or phone–to use as a resource in subsequent years when they are less likely to have the intensive support of a high school counselor. 

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The U.S. Department of Education released a long-awaited new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year with a soft launch in January. This process, which is required for students to receive federal college assistance and most state and private aid, was intended to be simpler and more streamlined for students and families than the previous iteration. 

The updated version, at this point in time, has not lived up to this ambition. 

Th FAFSA rollout has been fraught with issues and technical problems including narrow windows of availability, barriers to access for many students and families, substantial errors to the Student Aid Index that have mis-estimated the assistance families are likely to receive, and technical glitches that have made it impossible for students to submit their applications. And many of the issues have not yet been resolved; the process continues to be confusing and fluid. 

These delays also mean that colleges and universities will not receive the critical information from the federal government until March–rather than the typical January timeframe–further delaying the timeline for when students will learn their financial aid offers and shortening the window to make high stakes, life-changing decisions about where they will attend college. 

The result of this troubled process has been a sharp decrease in the number of students and families who have completed the FAFSA at this point in the year as compared to previous cycles. An analysis from the National College Attainment Network found that “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions for the class of 2024 were down about 57% compared to last year’s seniors, and the national FAFSA submission rate stands at just 16% through January 26.” With this backdrop, the need for counselor support for students and families is greater than ever. Though it can be complicated to know how to best guide students and families as the information continues to evolve, here are three steps you can take now.

Help students and families obtain FSA IDs.

FSA IDs are a critical first step to complete FAFSA. FSA IDs require a multi-step, multi-day process–students, parents, and other contributors must initiate creating an FSA ID and then wait 1-3 days for verification to be able to use the IDs to begin the application process. Helping students and families set up their FSA IDs immediately can result in a much smoother process once they are able to complete the entire FAFSA form. To support this:

  • Make sure students and families understand that setting up the FSA ID is the first step and requires multiple days before they can begin filling out the FAFSA as well as multi-factor authentication with an email or phone.  
  • Coach students on the need to use an email address or phone number they have regular access to now and will continue to have access to after high school graduation. For instance, using a school-related email address will inhibit future access in subsequent years. 
  • Counselors should anticipate that students will need to use a personal email address to set up their FSA IDs, but are often blocked from school firewalls. Finding ways to set up external hot spots or partner with the local library system can be important to facilitate this process. 
  • With the multitude of technical issues this year, it is especially important to encourage students and families to select “yes” for mobile account recovery when setting up their FSA IDs. Doing this will allow them to receive a recovery code, sent via text message to their phone, if they get locked out of the system while completing the FAFSA. 

Follow the updates and connect families with resources and support as needed.

In typical years, families who had issues completing FAFSA could reach out to the national call center help lines to resolve issues. This year, with so many uncertainties and evolving challenges and glitches, the call center is overwhelmed and has left callers with significant wait times. With this in mind, utilizing websites that share updates or that identify common issues along with ways to troubleshoot can be vital. Use these links to stay up-to-date with the most current information and share with students and families to empower them with information. 

  • Use this website from the Department of Education to learn about common issues and potentially find a solution to challenges or glitches students and families are encountering. 
  • Social media accounts often have the most up-to-date announcements. Consider following Federal Student Aid on X for the latest information.
  • If families cannot find answers to their questions in any other way, they can use the National Call Center Help Lines. Warn them that they may be required to wait for a substantial amount of time and to make sure they call when they are able to stay on the line. 
  • If students have attempted to submit their FAFSA but made errors, share with them that corrections are not yet able to be made but will be starting in mid-March. 

Helps students to think ahead and plan for the future.

Though many students and families typically associate applying for financial aid with the college application process, it is important to share with students and families that they will have to go through these steps annually while in college. They will need access to the same FSA ID, the email address associated with it, and all the other corresponding credentials. Counselors can coach families and students to take notes–possibly saved in their computer or phone–to use as a resource in subsequent years when they are less likely to have the intensive support of a high school counselor. 

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The U.S. Department of Education released a long-awaited new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year with a soft launch in January. This process, which is required for students to receive federal college assistance and most state and private aid, was intended to be simpler and more streamlined for students and families than the previous iteration. 

The updated version, at this point in time, has not lived up to this ambition. 

Th FAFSA rollout has been fraught with issues and technical problems including narrow windows of availability, barriers to access for many students and families, substantial errors to the Student Aid Index that have mis-estimated the assistance families are likely to receive, and technical glitches that have made it impossible for students to submit their applications. And many of the issues have not yet been resolved; the process continues to be confusing and fluid. 

These delays also mean that colleges and universities will not receive the critical information from the federal government until March–rather than the typical January timeframe–further delaying the timeline for when students will learn their financial aid offers and shortening the window to make high stakes, life-changing decisions about where they will attend college. 

The result of this troubled process has been a sharp decrease in the number of students and families who have completed the FAFSA at this point in the year as compared to previous cycles. An analysis from the National College Attainment Network found that “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions for the class of 2024 were down about 57% compared to last year’s seniors, and the national FAFSA submission rate stands at just 16% through January 26.” With this backdrop, the need for counselor support for students and families is greater than ever. Though it can be complicated to know how to best guide students and families as the information continues to evolve, here are three steps you can take now.

Help students and families obtain FSA IDs.

FSA IDs are a critical first step to complete FAFSA. FSA IDs require a multi-step, multi-day process–students, parents, and other contributors must initiate creating an FSA ID and then wait 1-3 days for verification to be able to use the IDs to begin the application process. Helping students and families set up their FSA IDs immediately can result in a much smoother process once they are able to complete the entire FAFSA form. To support this:

  • Make sure students and families understand that setting up the FSA ID is the first step and requires multiple days before they can begin filling out the FAFSA as well as multi-factor authentication with an email or phone.  
  • Coach students on the need to use an email address or phone number they have regular access to now and will continue to have access to after high school graduation. For instance, using a school-related email address will inhibit future access in subsequent years. 
  • Counselors should anticipate that students will need to use a personal email address to set up their FSA IDs, but are often blocked from school firewalls. Finding ways to set up external hot spots or partner with the local library system can be important to facilitate this process. 
  • With the multitude of technical issues this year, it is especially important to encourage students and families to select “yes” for mobile account recovery when setting up their FSA IDs. Doing this will allow them to receive a recovery code, sent via text message to their phone, if they get locked out of the system while completing the FAFSA. 

Follow the updates and connect families with resources and support as needed.

In typical years, families who had issues completing FAFSA could reach out to the national call center help lines to resolve issues. This year, with so many uncertainties and evolving challenges and glitches, the call center is overwhelmed and has left callers with significant wait times. With this in mind, utilizing websites that share updates or that identify common issues along with ways to troubleshoot can be vital. Use these links to stay up-to-date with the most current information and share with students and families to empower them with information. 

  • Use this website from the Department of Education to learn about common issues and potentially find a solution to challenges or glitches students and families are encountering. 
  • Social media accounts often have the most up-to-date announcements. Consider following Federal Student Aid on X for the latest information.
  • If families cannot find answers to their questions in any other way, they can use the National Call Center Help Lines. Warn them that they may be required to wait for a substantial amount of time and to make sure they call when they are able to stay on the line. 
  • If students have attempted to submit their FAFSA but made errors, share with them that corrections are not yet able to be made but will be starting in mid-March. 

Helps students to think ahead and plan for the future.

Though many students and families typically associate applying for financial aid with the college application process, it is important to share with students and families that they will have to go through these steps annually while in college. They will need access to the same FSA ID, the email address associated with it, and all the other corresponding credentials. Counselors can coach families and students to take notes–possibly saved in their computer or phone–to use as a resource in subsequent years when they are less likely to have the intensive support of a high school counselor. 

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The U.S. Department of Education released a long-awaited new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year with a soft launch in January. This process, which is required for students to receive federal college assistance and most state and private aid, was intended to be simpler and more streamlined for students and families than the previous iteration. 

The updated version, at this point in time, has not lived up to this ambition. 

Th FAFSA rollout has been fraught with issues and technical problems including narrow windows of availability, barriers to access for many students and families, substantial errors to the Student Aid Index that have mis-estimated the assistance families are likely to receive, and technical glitches that have made it impossible for students to submit their applications. And many of the issues have not yet been resolved; the process continues to be confusing and fluid. 

These delays also mean that colleges and universities will not receive the critical information from the federal government until March–rather than the typical January timeframe–further delaying the timeline for when students will learn their financial aid offers and shortening the window to make high stakes, life-changing decisions about where they will attend college. 

The result of this troubled process has been a sharp decrease in the number of students and families who have completed the FAFSA at this point in the year as compared to previous cycles. An analysis from the National College Attainment Network found that “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions for the class of 2024 were down about 57% compared to last year’s seniors, and the national FAFSA submission rate stands at just 16% through January 26.” With this backdrop, the need for counselor support for students and families is greater than ever. Though it can be complicated to know how to best guide students and families as the information continues to evolve, here are three steps you can take now.

Help students and families obtain FSA IDs.

FSA IDs are a critical first step to complete FAFSA. FSA IDs require a multi-step, multi-day process–students, parents, and other contributors must initiate creating an FSA ID and then wait 1-3 days for verification to be able to use the IDs to begin the application process. Helping students and families set up their FSA IDs immediately can result in a much smoother process once they are able to complete the entire FAFSA form. To support this:

  • Make sure students and families understand that setting up the FSA ID is the first step and requires multiple days before they can begin filling out the FAFSA as well as multi-factor authentication with an email or phone.  
  • Coach students on the need to use an email address or phone number they have regular access to now and will continue to have access to after high school graduation. For instance, using a school-related email address will inhibit future access in subsequent years. 
  • Counselors should anticipate that students will need to use a personal email address to set up their FSA IDs, but are often blocked from school firewalls. Finding ways to set up external hot spots or partner with the local library system can be important to facilitate this process. 
  • With the multitude of technical issues this year, it is especially important to encourage students and families to select “yes” for mobile account recovery when setting up their FSA IDs. Doing this will allow them to receive a recovery code, sent via text message to their phone, if they get locked out of the system while completing the FAFSA. 

Follow the updates and connect families with resources and support as needed.

In typical years, families who had issues completing FAFSA could reach out to the national call center help lines to resolve issues. This year, with so many uncertainties and evolving challenges and glitches, the call center is overwhelmed and has left callers with significant wait times. With this in mind, utilizing websites that share updates or that identify common issues along with ways to troubleshoot can be vital. Use these links to stay up-to-date with the most current information and share with students and families to empower them with information. 

  • Use this website from the Department of Education to learn about common issues and potentially find a solution to challenges or glitches students and families are encountering. 
  • Social media accounts often have the most up-to-date announcements. Consider following Federal Student Aid on X for the latest information.
  • If families cannot find answers to their questions in any other way, they can use the National Call Center Help Lines. Warn them that they may be required to wait for a substantial amount of time and to make sure they call when they are able to stay on the line. 
  • If students have attempted to submit their FAFSA but made errors, share with them that corrections are not yet able to be made but will be starting in mid-March. 

Helps students to think ahead and plan for the future.

Though many students and families typically associate applying for financial aid with the college application process, it is important to share with students and families that they will have to go through these steps annually while in college. They will need access to the same FSA ID, the email address associated with it, and all the other corresponding credentials. Counselors can coach families and students to take notes–possibly saved in their computer or phone–to use as a resource in subsequent years when they are less likely to have the intensive support of a high school counselor.