Help: FAFSA Workaround for Mixed-Status Families


It has been two months since the federal government launched the FAFSA, and one group is still waiting on the sidelines: students and parents in mixed-status families. 

Technical problems have largely shut out parents who don’t have Social Security numbers, leaving students in a lurch nervously looking at financial aid deadlines.

May 2024 NOTE: There have been important updates to this article. Please read our article, The FAFSA is (Finally) Open for Undocumented Parents, to get the latest information on this topic. We are keeping this article on the website for counselors and families who may need to refer to Federal Student Aid’s prior workaround strategies and the history of this FAFSA mess. 

The FAFSA is (Finally) Open for Undocumented Parents


February 2024: FAFSA and Mixed-Status Families

But there is some hope. Federal Student Aid has announced that the problems will be fixed by mid-March.

In the meantime, the agency offered a way for students to submit their FAFSA if they are facing immediate deadlines from their colleges, state grant programs, or private scholarship providers.

Here are the instructions from Federal Student Aid:
How To Submit the 2024–25 FAFSA Form if Your Contributor Doesn’t Have an SSN
Download this PDF for a version to print or share.


Wait if You Can

Unfortunately, the current workaround is not a good solution for most families.

Federal Student Aid is clear that this should only be used by students who need proof that they submitted their FAFSA before mid-March. In a webinar last week, officials urged students to sit tight and wait until the FAFSA is fixed so they can submit the application properly. “Our advice is that if a student doesn’t have a looming application deadline and can wait, they should wait.”

Press reports have noted that Federal Student Aid’s workaround is confusing and could result in even more delays for students in mixed-status families.

In a must-read analysis, the Chronicle of Higher Education concludes that the workaround “is an elaborate chore” requiring students and parents to carefully make their way through nine confusing steps.

“That chore involves submitting an incomplete FAFSA that won’t give colleges actionable information … until all nine steps are finally completed down the line. Essentially, the fix just gets you a timestamp.”


Facing a Looming Deadline?

Unfortunately, this workaround may be a necessity for students who are facing immovable financial aid deadlines from their states or colleges. Here are a few things to understand about this workaround.

1. It is very important to read the instructions carefully and complete each step.

2. As a student, you are filling out your section of the FAFSA form and then entering your parents’ information manually.

3. If one of your parents has a Social Security number, fill out and complete the FAFSA with that parent. If the FAFSA needs the other parent’s information, you will need to type that in manually. For both parents, just follow the instructions on the page.

4. You will need your parents’ 2022 tax or income information to do this. Some of the questions might be confusing. Work with your counselor or another adult to complete the form as instructed.

5. After you enter this information and submit your FAFSA, you should see “Congratulations!” on the top of the page. Now watch for a confirmation email. Take a screenshot and save the email. It will serve as proof that you filed your FAFSA on time. Share it with the college or agency that is demanding that you meet their deadline.

6. You will be notified by email when the FAFSA is fixed, hopefully by mid-March. At that point, your parent or parents will need to complete their section of the FAFSA. They will need to give consent to share their tax information and sign the form electronically.

7. It is crucial that your parent or parents log on to your FAFSA and complete the form. Your FAFSA will not be complete without their consent and signature.

Need help? Work with your parents. And ask for help in your school counseling office, in your community, or at your library.


Can You Wait Two Weeks?

Do you really need to do this workaround or can you wait? Colleges should be willing to work with you. State college grant agencies might be tougher to deal with.

See if there is any way you can wait until the FAFSA is fixed.

Reach out to the colleges on your list to get an update on their financial aid deadlines. Also find out if there are other ways to provide the financial information that your schools need. Nervous? Get our advice below to learn how best to communicate with your financial aid office.



How to Deal With College Financial Aid Delays

Money Questions? Call Your College Financial Aid Office