9 Things to Know About the FAFSA Mobile App

September 5, 2018

By MorraLee Keller, Director of Technical Assistance

The new myStudentAid mobile app has been released, and now FAFSAs can be completed anywhere, any time with a smartphone. NCAN was fortunate to work with the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) and conduct user testing to help review the app and make suggestions for modifications. For details about the user testing process and what we learned, check out NCAN Executive Director Kim Cook’s blog post.

The new app may have access programs rethinking their FAFSA completion workshop planning this year. Perhaps these events no longer need to only be held in a school’s computer labs. Can you visualize the cafeteria filled with students and families and their phones laid out on the tables? Would students work on the FAFSA in class or at lunch, since it is on their phone? Could you meet with families anywhere in the community to complete the form? Yes, all of the above are possibilities this year.

NCAN identified nine things you need to know about the app NOW. We will also give you a heads-up on what is coming in October, when FSA plans to launch a revised version of the app.

Here’s what you need to know before you use the app in its current form:

  1. You can download the myStudentAid app from either the Android or Apple app store.

  2. Until Sept. 30, only the 2018-19 FAFSA is available on the app.

  3. The current version of the app does not have any IRS DRT functionality. It also does not allow users to file a renewal application or make any corrections.

  4. Students need their FSA ID to use the app.

  5. You can start the FAFSA on the app or a computer and finish it on a different device with the FSA ID and save key.

  6. The FAFSA.gov website is now mobile-optimized and mirrors the look, feel, and functionality of the app.

  7. Students, parents, and access advisers need to pay particular attention to the signature process when multiple signatures are required. Never tap the “Start Over” button when logging in to complete a parent signature, as that will erase all previous information entered by the student.

  8. To help avoid verification, NCAN recommends that only students/families not eligible to use the IRS DRT use the app before Oct. 1, unless no other method is available.

  9. NCAN created a flyer with these need-to-know items and some sample screenshots that can be provided to advisers or families to help familiarize them with the app.

How will the app be enhanced on Oct. 1? NCAN will provide information about the updated app as soon as we have it.

Here is what is slated to come as part of the October update:

  1. Starting Oct. 1, the app will only contain the 2019-20 FAFSA. If a student still needs to complete a 2018-19 FAFSA, they will need to use the FAFSA.gov website to do so.

  2. The app will have IRS DRT functionality. However, we know the IRS pages will not be mobile-optimized and therefore may be somewhat awkward to view and use on the phone.

  3. There will be options to complete a renewal FAFSA and/or edit college choices.

  4. You will still be able to start the FAFSA on one type of device and complete it on another with the student FSA ID and save key.

  5. NCAN hopes the suggested improvements identified during user testing will be incorporated into the updated version of the app.

  6. NCAN will update our need-to-know items flyer as we approach Oct. 1.

NCAN applauds FSA for these advances with technology and website redesign to make it easier for students and families to complete the FAFSA. Stay tuned for the October updates.

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