Expert FAFSA Advice for Mixed-Status Families

March 14 2024 Update:

Readers of this website have been following our coverage of what has been happening to students who have parents without Social Security numbers.

This year, the FAFSA launched a new process for verifying parents’ identity without Social Security numbers to make it easier for mixed-status families to fill out the FAFSA.

It hasn’t been going well.

Every student and parent completing FAFSA online must get a secure login called an FSA ID. Until recently, this has been all but impossible to do for many families. And filling out the FAFSA was impossible.

Thankfully, that has changed. See our update and our most recent news coverage below. Yet the FAFSA is still posing plenty of problems for parents without Social Security numbers. We’re keeping this video resource available for families and counselors trying to navigate this season’s challenging FAFSA process. We urge you to follow the work of the important groups featured in the webinar below.


Update: FAFSA Fixed for Many Mixed-Status Families

The Department of Education announced mid-March that the FAFSA should now work for parents without Social Security numbers. Some students will still experience bugs, but Federal Student Aid stated that the form should work for most families.

Parents without Social Security numbers have been locked out of the FAFSA by technical difficulties until now. While federal officials have offered workarounds, they hope this latest round of technical fixes will offer a permanent fix.

Catch up here: FAFSA Has Been Fixed for Most Mixed-Status Families

FAFSA Has Been Fixed for Most Mixed-Status Families

Past Report: FSA ID Verification System Working for Some Parents

This is very good news. Until now, we have been hearing that parents without Social Security numbers were being required to call the FAFSA help desk to get their identity verified. New this week is that some parents have been able to get everything done online by answering a few simple background questions provided by a credit check agency.

See our article online to learn how the FAFSA online identity verification process works.

Online verification is important. If parents can’t get the online verification system to work, they must call the FAFSA help desk to get their identity verified through email. This requires a long wait on hold. Once a parent gets through, they’ll get a case number and will be sent an email with instructions to fill out an attestation form and attach identification. This takes a long time and can be nerve-wracking, to say the least, for parents who are undocumented. We are gratified to see that the FAFSA’s online verification form is working for some parents seeking FSA IDs.


Past Report: FAFSA Not Working for Mixed-Status Families

We learned this by attending a tremendously useful webinar, hosted by four leading organizations working on college access for mixed-status families: Immigrants Rising, the National College Attainment Network, ImmSchools, and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

The one-hour webinar offers strategies for mixed-status families to successfully navigate the process of completing the 2024-25 FAFSA, including:

  • Procedures to obtain an FSA ID without a Social Security number.
  • Avoiding potential pitfalls when navigating the new FAFSA.
  • Legal and privacy protections for students and parents.
  • Tips on advising students who are citizens with parents who might be undocumented.


It is important that students, families, and counselors fully understand what is happening with the new FAFSA. To be sure, the FAFSA is not working for undocumented parents as of this date. However, we know the government is trying to fix the problems as quickly as possible so students can get access to much-needed federal aid to pay for college this fall.

Watch the webinar below to catch up with what you need to know.  And here are some additional materials to accompany the webinar:


And be sure to learn what you can expect from the FAFSA once everything is working properly.