Voices of FAFSA Filers Heard on FSA ID

May 11, 2016

By Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Partnerships

At the end of April, the White House announced that FSA ID, the year old username and password system to access the FAFSA and student loans, would be streamlined. NCAN applauds this news after a FAFSA season filled with complaints about how the system created additional hurdles for students. United States Digital Service (USDS) and the U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid Office (FSA) will work together to review and steam line the process

The FSA ID is a necessary evil in this day of data security and hackers targeting sensitive information. However, the heightened security requirements, beyond what most standard online bank accounts require, added to the frustration levels of students, parents, and those helping them to complete the FAFSA form. NCAN members first brought the added barriers to attention in September, leading NCAN to seek out more information and alert officials at FSA in November 2015. Throughout the 2016-17 FAFSA filing season, NCAN has continued to facilitate this dialogue between NCAN members and FSA officials, including sharing resources with members and suggestions for improvements with FSA officials.

Increasing the barriers to completing the FAFSA, even if unintentionally for security purposes, can have significant consequences for students around the country. National FAFSA completion rates for high school seniors are down 3.2% (or almost 52,000 FAFSAs) from  April 29, 2015 to April 29, 2016. While it is hard to tell if the FSA ID is primarily responsible for this decrease, FAFSA submission rates for the same students are only down 1.2%. Students struggle with the FSA ID could be one explanation for the  2 percentage point growth in the gap between submissions and completions. FAFSAs are not “complete” until all necessary signatures are received, and the FSA ID is the only way to electronically sign the FAFSA. The other option is to print a signature form and mail it in. 

NCAN particularly wants to thank the many members who helped to keep this issue at the forefront. The consistent effort and large number of participants shows what our members can do when they work together on an advocacy issue. In particular, the following members responded to calls for information, spoke to reporters, wrote letters, or participated in a video conference meeting with FSA officials. 

Academic Success Program (TX)
Alabama Possible (AL)
American Student Assistance (MA)
Bottom Line (MA, NY, IL)
College Bound St. Louis (MO)
College Forward (TX)
College Now Greater Cleveland (OH)
College Possible (Nationwide)
College Track (Nationwide) 
CollegeTracks (MD)
CommunityCollegeCareer (TX)
Dallas Commit/Dallas ISD (TX)
De La Salle Middle School (MO)
Denver Scholarship Foundation (CO)
Emily K Center (NC)
Florida College Access Network (FL)
Get Schooled (Nationwide)
Get2College (MS)
Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation (WI)
Illinois Student Assistance Commission (IL)
Kentuckiana Works (KY)
KIPP Through College (Nationwide)
Lenawee College Access Network (MI)
Maryland Higher Education Commission (MD)
Metropolitan Education Center (AZ)
Northern VA Community College (VA)
Office of the State Superintendent of Education (DC)
Reach for College! (DC)
Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis (MO)
Student Assistance Foundation of Montana (MT)
Tennessee College Access and Success Network (TN)
Tennessee Higher Education Commission (TN)
uAspire (MA, CA)
Waco Foundation/MAC Scholarship (TX)
Washington College Access Network/College Success Foundation (WA)
Washington Student Achievement Council (WA)
West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (WV)
Yes We Must Coalition (Nationwide)

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