Advocacy quick hits: A fix for FAFSA form’s Social Security requirement

The U.S. Education Department (ED) this week announced a temporary workaround to allow students with parents or contributors without a Social Security number (SSN) to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Since the new 2024-25 FAFSA launched in late December, there have been a number of glitches and technical challenges, including one that has prevented contributors without an SSN from starting or accessing the FAFSA form. The American Association of Community Colleges and other higher education advocates have continually raised this issue as ED has worked to make technical corrections to the form and user experience over the past two months.

The department said it expects to have a fix to allow all contributors – with or without an SSN – to have the same consumer experience using the online form by mid-March. However, for students who have a critical state, institutional or scholarship deadline and who have required contributors without an SSN, students should submit all information on the FAFSA, leaving blank the field asking for a contributor’s SSN and leaving blank the required signature for the contributor. When the forms are processed in March, students will receive an “Action Required” status update requiring them to add the contributor’s signature.

Before this announcement, ED officials and college access groups had encouraged affected students to fill out a paper FAFSA. The department has indicated that online forms will be processed before paper forms, and the agency strongly encourages students to file electronically.

If a student chooses to submit an electronic FAFSA using the workaround after submitting a paper FAFSA, the paper form will be “rejected,” as the online form will be processed first. However, if students filed a paper FAFSA to meet a deadline in January or February, they should not use the new electronic workaround in order to not override the paper application filing date.

Read the rest of this week’s Advocacy Quick Hits.

About the Author

Kathryn Gimborys
Kathryn Gimborys is a government relations manager at the American Association of Community Colleges.
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