Readers of this website have been following our coverage of what has been happening to students who have parents without Social Security numbers. Their parents may be undocumented or may lack Social Security numbers for other reasons. Students in mixed-status families cannot move forward on the FAFSA until their parents can contribute information to their form.
The FAFSA launched a new process this year for parents without Social Security numbers — and it hasn’t been going well. The FAFSA’s technical problems have caused a lot of anxiety for students who face looming financial aid deadlines. They desperately need the FAFSA to work for their parents.
This week there was some good news and some bad news.
Good News for Mixed-Status Families
Some parents have been able to get FSA IDs using the FAFSA’s new online verification system.
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.
Bad News for Mixed-Status Families
The FAFSA itself is not working for parents who don’t have Social Security numbers.
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:
- FAFSA for Mixed Status Families: Slide deck
- FAFSA for Mixed-Status Families: Top 10 Things Flyer
- FSA Known Issue Alerts for 24-25 FAFSA
- Federal Data Protection for Parents Filling Out the FAFSA
- Posters & Resources