How to Create Your FSA ID

If you plan to submit the FAFSA to apply for college financial aid, you’ll need to create an FSA ID first, which allows you to begin the FAFSA process. And you need to create your FSA ID at least a few days before you start the FAFSA, so now’s a great time to check that step off your list. This webinar will walk you through the process of creating an FSA ID, explain who needs to create one, and discuss other things to know before completing the FAFSA.

Download the webinar slides to follow along.


If you need closed captioning. If you want to hear the see the words that we're speaking across the screen, you can type the CC button on your screen and you'll be able to hear and see the words that we're speaking. And I will just add that you have one other feature with that, where you get to choose the language of the words across your screen.

And that's true for all of our webinars. So take advantage of that if you need it. And I'll tell you a few things about MEFA and just MEFA. invite you to continue to come back to us and see all of the different webinars we're going to have throughout, throughout the year to help you with financial aid and many other topics related to college.

But MEFA has been around since 1982, and our mission is to help families plan, save, and pay for college, and we've been doing that for all of those years. And so we're glad you're connected with us, and please stay connected and visit. Often to take advantage of our website. We have a podcast. We have emails that you'll be receiving just to keep you up to date and up to speed on all things college.

So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Sean. Sean, I'm going to let you take it from here on our important topic. Thanks, Julie, and thank you for joining us tonight. So we're going to be talking about the FSA ID and that FSA stands for federal student aid. The FSA ID is required in order to start a FAFSA and.

As you may have heard, the FAFSA is delayed this year. Usually that comes out on October 1st. This year it's going to be released sometime in December. We don't know the exact date yet, but it will be happening hopefully sometime in December. But the FSA ID process is live now, and so this is a step that you can get to taking care of now to prepare for when the FAFSA is available. And the reason why we think it's important for you to start the process of getting an FSA ID early is because there is a matching process which I'll be talking about in just a few minutes that can take a couple of days. So normally you can't get your FSA ID and use that to fill out the FAFSA on the same day.

So the earlier you can get that taken care of the less you have to worry about once the FAFSA is actually released. So who needs an FSA ID? So to fill out the FAFSA, the student will always need an FSA ID. In addition to the student, if the student is married and then they would be considered independent.

The student spouse will need a, an FSA ID if they filed a separate tax return. If they filed a joint tax return for their federal tax return, then only the student will need an FSA ID. For dependent students in addition to the students, the biological or adoptive parent who files a joint return, only one parent will need that.

If the biological and adoptive parents are married or living in the same household. If the biological or adoptive parents are divorced. Then it becomes the parent that gives more than 50 percent of the support to the student that will have to be the contributor, is what they call that, on the FAFSA and will have to have an FSA ID.

If neither of the parents provided more than 50 percent of the support over the last 12 months, it's whoever provided more than half of the support the last time the student did receive support from the parents. If the parent that provides more than 50 percent of the support is remarried, the spouse of that remarried parent needs to have an FSA ID if they filed separate tax returns. If they filed a joint return, only one of those two parents would need the FSA ID. And for unmarried biological parents of the dependent student, if they live in the same household still they would both need an FSA ID and if any parent did not file a tax return and is required to give their information on the FAFSA, they would have to have an FSA ID as well. So the purpose of the FSA ID and to make it a little bit clearer as to. Why there's all these different iterations of who needs an FSA ID and it's based on how taxes were filed is because the FSA ID is going to be used to provide consent on the FAFSA to pull in data from the IRS.

And in order to access that data, anyone who has ownership of that data is going to need an FSA ID. So when there's a joint tax return filed by The parents that have to be reported on the FAFSA only one will need an FSA ID if they're filing separate tax returns or not filing a tax return, then each of those contributors will need an FSA ID in order to provide consent and say that they have ownership to that information.

Once the FAFSA does become live, in December, there will be, what is my parent wizard as part of the FAFSA process that will walk a student through a series of questions to determine who the parent is. If there is a situation where the parents are providing equal support. in a divorce situation, then it becomes the parent that has the higher income or assets that would give their information on the FAFSA and need an FSA ID.

So in order to request an FSA ID, that still happens on And you would go in, to and request an FSA ID. The good news is if you already have an FSA ID, if you filed a FAFSA in the past for another student or for yourself, and you still have access to the FSA ID, you don't need to create a new FSA ID.

You can use the one that you already have. Do make sure that when you start the process of filling out your FSA ID on and the information that you provide, especially the email address that you will have to give, make sure that is an email address that you will continue to have access to, because you will need to access that email address to get communication about your FSA ID.

And once you go to, you'll be asked for some personal information like your name, date of birth, social security number. If you have a social security number, we'll be talking a little bit about what we know right now about the process for individuals that do not have a social security number to receive an FSA ID.

That's a new process this year. In the past, only users that had a social security number were able to get an FSA ID. Now there is a process that's going to be in place for those that do not have a social security number as well. And then account information. You're asked to create a username and password.

So try to create a username that you will remember. It's going to let you know if the username that you've chosen has been used before. But you can create a username for yourself. And then your contact information, which is your email address, your physical address. and a phone number. Communication preferences, whether you'd like communications to come via email, text message or phone.

And then there are some challenge questions that you can create and create the answers to. And those are used if you forget your password in order to help you retrieve that password in the future. So make sure when you're choosing those challenge questions that you choose those carefully that they will be ones that you remember the answers to.

And then you will have to set up multi factor authentication. What that means is either they will send you an email or a text message each time you log in. With a code to make sure that you are actually the person that you say you are with your username and password. So it's just another level of authentication to make sure all of the information that's being shared is secure.

Since this information is being used. To access IRS data, even though you won't be able to see any of the IRS data pulled in when you do the FAFSA it is sensitive information and they are trying to make sure that all of this information is kept very safely for you. And then once you've set up all of that information, the information will be sent to the social security administration.

If you do have a social security number. That a match will be conducted that just matches your social security number, date of birth and, your name against what you provide on the FSA ID. So it's really important when you do set up the FSA ID that you use the name as it appears on your Social Security card.

So if you have your changed your name and you still have your old name on your social security card Either have that change at the social security office or use the name that is as it appears on your social security card We have heard in cases where people's name is misspelled on their social security card they haven't corrected that and so make sure that you are using it as exactly As it appears on your social security card.

Otherwise the match process will not happen and you will receive a message that your FSA ID could not be verified and you'll have to go in and fix the information that is on there. So it's easiest if you have your social security card in front of you when you are completing the process to make sure all of that information is correct.

And we'll be talking about what the process will look like for those without social security number in just a moment. So what is changing? All contributors and a contributor means that you are the person that has to give information on the FAFSA. That does not mean you have to contribute towards paying for college.

It just means that your information Has to appear on the FAFSA. So all contributors as I explained earlier, as to who needs an FSA ID will need that FSA ID. And the identity match is required for each contributor to verify their FSA ID. So I did say earlier in the presentation that if you already had an FSA ID you can use that again.

There may be some rare cases where the FSA ID process for the FSA ID you already have. was not, has not gone through the identity match process. If that has happened, you will receive a message when you go to use the FSA ID that you need to go through the identity match and it will bring you back to the FSA ID site in order to complete that.

So that's if you have an old FSA ID. Also, if you had created an FSA ID in the past and there wasn't an email address attached to that FSA ID, you will need to go back into the FSA ID site and enter an email address in on the FSA ID site.

And there will be a process for users to apply for an FSA ID without a social security number. Unfortunately, that process is not available yet. They have said that that will be available before the FAFSA is available sometime in December. But again, we don't have an exact date on that. There will be a knowledge based identity verification process for those without a social security number.

And from what we've heard so far, that knowledge base test may be in real time, so you may not have to have the delay of two to three days on like with the social security match going out to the social security administration that could be in real time, but we don't have all of the details of that process yet that is still being worked out to make sure that again, all of the information is kept very confidential and the process of receiving the FSA ID is going to the right individuals. And as part of the process now on the new FAFSA, the student will send each of the contributor that has to give their information on the FAFSA an email that to access the FAFSA and fill out their portion of the FAFSA.

And those emails will be customized and have links in there depending on if the invited contributor has an FSA ID or not. So if you invite a contributor. Who already has an FSA ID. It's just going to bring you right to the FAFSA to start filling out your portion of the FAFSA. If you're a contributor who is invited and you don't have an FSA ID yet.

It will bring you right to the FSA ID site within to fill out and start the process of receiving an FSA ID. So hopefully that will make the process a little bit clearer and easier where you won't have to click around on the Like to get to the right place once you receive that email.

So again, the ID verification for non-social security number holders is going to be a knowledge based identity verification process Which means that you'll be presented with some information possibly from a credit bureau asking for information about prior address or prior assets that you may have had And that can help find your identity, but we don't know all of the details about that.

And there's also going to be a backup process. That they've announced but they haven't said any of the details about that as well but this will be another process to verify the identity so that you can have an FSA ID Without a social security number and this is what the account creation page looks like. So again, you're just putting in your name, date of birth, social security number if you have it or there's a box there to check if you don't have a social security number And that will bring you to a different process And then the next page will is just with the questions setting up, in case you forget your password, you set up those questions and then it will just tell you that within two to three days you'll receive an email saying that your FSA ID is ready to use and then you can go in and use that to fill out the FAFSA on

Okay, so that is all of the information I can go back over any of that. I know I went through that very quickly and there's a lot of information Julie, are there questions that I can clarify? Yeah, we have a few and really good ones too. So, let's address our favorite topic of, you know, the questions around which parent.

So, you know, the first level of questioning is which parent provided more financial support over the last 12 months. And then, if they if they choose a parent, great. And if they don't, if they say 50/50, then they're guided to choose the parent with the greater income or assets. And so, we have a question where someone is saying yes.

A lot of parents will say that they. They do have 50/50 support. So how do we how do we help them? And secondly to that because it says income or assets. And I know we don't like that language either. Then what if 1 parent has a greater income? 1 parent has greater assets. So maybe let's just talk through that.

That whole bit a little bit sure. So, the 1st thing I want to say on this is the all the guidance that we've heard from the department says that the family is making the decision on who provides more than 50 percent of the support, and they gave the example that there's probably no real-world example where parents give exactly 50/50 percent of the support.

If 1 parent buys an extra cup of coffee for that student 1 day. Then that brings them over the threshold of 50/50. But if you really think that it's 50/50, then it does become a difference of who has the greater income or assets. And again, this is the family's decision as to who has the greater income or assets.

So, you can look at. The both of them together, you can look at them separately. They haven't given specific guidance on that. And I believe they're keeping that a little bit loose to give some families the ability to determine that on their own. And schools also have been told this is not. Something that they need to verify.

That this isn't something that they're going to be asking to follow up with for you to provide more information to the school about that information. That's great. And this one is still around parents. So, this is a good question. My ex-husband and I have agreed to pay for college together, but don’t have an FSA ID.

Should I invite him as a contributor so he can have access to the account? And if I do, doesn't that mean he needs an FSA ID too? So, this is a good answer you can give here. Yeah. So, so only one parent in a divorce situation needs to give their information on the FAFSA. You do not both need your FSA IDs.

It has nothing to do with who is paying for college, it's just who's providing their information on the FAFSA. So, if you are the parent that's providing more than 50 percent of the support. I know you said you're paying for college together, but if you have the more income or assets as well, only you would need the FSA ID.

Your ex-husband would not need to provide his information as well on the FAFSA. And someone asked can both parents names be on the parent ID for married couples filing joint tax returns? No, you need a separate FSA ID for each person. You can't have a dual FSA ID. And if you're filing a joint tax return, only one parent needs an FSA ID.

So, you can choose either parent. It doesn't matter. The same information with a joint tax return will pull over for either parent with that FSA ID on a joint tax return. And can you talk about what types of assets are they looking for? When they're asking that question and what types of assets and actually a greater question.

What types of assets are looked at for financial aid? So, for financial aid purposes, and it's a little bit different for when they're saying who has the greater income or assets, that's probably a different question than what assets are reported on the FAFSA, because for the purposes of who has the greater income or assets, they don't delineate exactly what those income or assets are.

So, we, we're assuming that it's all assets. When it comes down to reporting assets on the FAFSA, you do not have to report your primary home. You don't have to report retirement assets on there. You don't have to and so it's- there's different information that you report as assets on the FAFSA than what you're using when you're determining who has the greater income or assets.

All right. We have some other. We have a couple of questions about Social Security numbers, so I'll just run this by you, Sean. You know, what if someone lost their Social Security card? How would they find what name is on it? And then someone else asked another Social Security question. Let's take a quick look at that.

Oh, so like if you're married and legally changed your name, does that mean your Social Security name was also updated at the time of the change? So anything you can sort of talk about Social Security. Far as I know your social security number does not automatically get updated when you get married You have to actually request that that happens.

So if you never did that process you may still have Your prior name on your social security card, but you can go to the social security number social security administration's website And request a duplicate social security card if you have lost that And I don't know the website off the top of my head, but if you Google Social Security Administration, it should bring you to that website.

Make sure that it ends in dot gov. That means that it is a government website and it will be legit when you go out there and you can request a duplicate copy of your Social Security card. Also, there are still some Social Security Administration information. Physical offices in some cities and towns that you can go to in person and request a copy of your social security card.

I know I personally did this recently. I couldn't find my social security card and I requested a copy of that online and I received it. Very quickly, I think it was within a week and a half, I received that in the mail. So they, it is a quick process to receive your Social Security card if you do need a duplicate copy of that.

And there is a phone number, I believe as well, on their website if you want to call and talk to someone in person if the online tools don't work for you to request that. And then this is a question about, you know, kind of about privacy and sharing. We get this a lot, you know, because the parent, parent, student, each have a separate FSA ID.

But the question I think is really about who can see financial details when they file the FAFSA? Will the children be able to see that and all of that? So the great thing about the new FAFSA. Is none of the information shared by any of the contributors. So the student or any of the parents that have to put their information on the FAFSA is not shared with any of the other individuals, even further than that, any IRS data that's pulled over automatically through the new process, which is the FADDX, which is the FADDX.

Future Act Direct Data Exchange is what that FADDX stands for. It's a mouthful. I'm sorry, there's always these crazy acronyms in the, in the federal financial aid world that they all come up with and we all have to learn. And FA, which stands for future act in this case, I always think it's financial aid, but it's future act this time.

So the same letters stand for different things at different times, but anyway. Any information that comes over from that FADDX, that data exchange with the IRS, is not going to display for anyone on the FAFSA, either the contributor themselves or any, or the student on there. The only people that will get to see that Are the financial aid office or the state agency that that's sent to in order to determine if you're eligible for state aid.

And further, all of that tax data is going to come in a separate file to them electronic file that they have to keep on a more secured. database on their campus. So there are special controls that all of the financial aid offices in the state agencies have to use to store all of this information to make sure that it's really secure because it is IRS data.

And so there, it will not be shared with any other offices on campus and it's going to be very securely kept in servers on campuses. There are specific instructions as to how that's going to be kept. And then this is a good question always, John, uh, what if there's a substantial change and increase or decline in income between when you file the FAFSA and prior to the student starting college?

Yeah, so anytime there's a big change in income, loss of job decrease in wages or hours. You can contact the financial aid office and let them know what the circumstances are. They will let you know what information they're going to need from you in order to take a look at that situation and see if there is any more aid available based on the new circumstances.

So they may ask you for some additional documentation. And that may differ from school to school. So one school may require certain information from you, like a tax transcript or a letter showing that you have been let go or laid off from your job. They may ask for some additional information from you, but they'll tell you exactly what they need from you, and they'll try to work through that with you to get you the most accurate and helpful financial aid based on the new situation.

And then this is sort of about, you know what, what this website looks like. I'm so glad it seems like people are already in here starting to create their FSA ID. So someone just said, I logged into my old FSA ID account and it says I have zero loans, but this family is feeling like they do have some loans.

Is it possible they created another ID and the loans are on that one, but it also sounds. Like they do have an account here if it's telling them they have zeros loans, right? So yeah the FSA ID is tied to your social security number So you really shouldn't be able to have more than one account with one social security number. But if you are a family where the loans were taken out under one social security number remember any student direct student loans are not under the parents so scary number but would be under the students so scary number.

So if the student has loans, it would be under their, their social security number. If there are federal parent plus loans, they should be under that social security number, or if you have. prior Student loans under your own social security number. Those should repair should appear there, but only federal loans will appear there So if you had any private loans, like for example, a MEFA loan would not appear under your FSA ID only federal loans will appear there.

But if you don't see any loans attached there you may want to just do a little bit of checking there are a lot of Situations happening now where loans are being sent to different servicers and there could be some information that that just is in progress right now. So you want to make sure you check on that if you really think you do have federal loans.

So I think we covered everything. Those are some really good questions and it, I think they were even better given that many of you have, have already started this process and, and see how it's unfolding. Anything else before we close? Let's see.

Oh, another question. Should each student create their own FSA ID? And as for the parent, The FSA ID will be created only once for both students question. Yeah, correct. So each student will need their own FSA ID and the parents will only need one FSA ID for and that can be attached to both students. And the other good news is what we hear.

As long as this doesn't change between now and when the FAFSA is released, that if a parent has more than one student, they would fill out the parent block just once, and then anytime a student asks, for that parent as a contributor, that block that they already filled out will attach to the student.

So you should only have to fill out that information once and that will attach to several students. The only thing that you probably will have to be cautious of, if that happens, is if you do have 529 plans for the student, since you're only reporting information. In the parent assets about the 529 plan value for the student that you're filling out the FAFSA for if each of the students has a different amount for their 529 plans, you'll just have to go in and correct that one field on the asset section about the 529 plans in that.

In each of the students and make sure that that is correct on there, but all the information other information should remain the same in the parent block for all of your students. And we do have, I think, one final question here. Is there a place to enter an unusual circumstance that would not occur in other years, like selling a parent's home or something like that?

There isn't a place to list that on the FAFSA directly, but what you would do is reach out to each financial aid office that you are applying for financial aid at and let them know about that circumstance and they can tell you what. Additional documentation or what they would need from you in order for them to consider that circumstance and we can add right that if the college requires the CSS profile form, which some colleges do, there is a place on that form where you can put that correct.

Yes. Thank you. Julie. All right. Well, Sean, thank you so much for this. And thank you all for your great questions. And we'll just both say again that you know, we're, we're learning a lot as, as we go along here and when the FAFSA comes out, we'll, you know, it'll, there'll even be more clarity. So please stay in touch with MEFA and we will help you with this every step of the way.

So, thank you. And yes, we'll have more information too. And hopefully another webinar once we know more details about, Individuals without a social security number. Well do that more information again about how to attain an FSA ID for that process. Thank you. And everyone have a wonderful evening.

Bye. Bye.

Read More