Ten Tips to Avoid FSA ID Tech Troubles (January 2024)

The first step of the FAFSA process, creating a Federal Student Aid account, or FSA ID, has been a technical challenge for many students and their families with the release of the new FAFSA.

Creating an FSA ID should be easy to do, but for many families, this has been a big headache and has been preventing students from completing their FAFSA. 

The FAFSA is in a “soft launch” period this January. Families are experiencing a variety of problems and technical issues with the website.

The new FAFSA features tougher security protocols, so the FSA ID login process is more important than ever. Getting an FSA ID is now required for anyone contributing to a student’s FAFSA online.

There are two groups facing challenges in getting an FSA ID:

  • Students and parents with Social Security numbers: There are issues with the site crashing, but you should be able to get your FSA ID if you log in when the site is quiet. We recommend the mornings. See our tips below.
  • Parents without Social Security numbers: Students need a Social Security number to get an FSA ID and apply for federal aid — but parents do not need a Social Security number. All parents filling out the FAFSA with their students online must now get FSA ID. As of now, this process isn’t working for parents without Social Security numbers. Hold off on trying to obtain an FSA ID for a week or two and read up on what is happening to parents without FSA IDs.

 

But there are other reasons the FSA ID “Create an Account” website might hang up on you. Here are a few tricks to avoid the most common problems.

 

Ten Tips for Setting Up Your FSA ID

1. Know that students and parents get separate FSA IDs

If you are in high school or an undergraduate in college, you probably need to complete the FAFSA with the help of one of your parents. If this is the case, you both need to create an FSA ID. (Note: If your parent created an FSA ID for one of your siblings, they will simply log in using this information. You may want to ask your sibling if your parent forgot the FSA ID info.) Students and parents: Make your life easier. Create a username and password you’ll remember easily, and back this up with your cell phone number and an email address you check frequently. 

2. Think ahead: You need to get your FSA ID at least 1-3+ days before you start your FAFSA

With the new security protocols, it is important to get your FSA ID set up and approved by the government before starting your FAFSA. Our advice: Think of the FAFSA as a two step process. Students and parents should first get their FSA IDs. Watch your email to see that it has been approved. Then feel free to tackle the FAFSA. After you successfully register for your FSA ID, it can take up to three days or more before you can use it to sign your FAFSA electronically. Read our new FAFSA Guide to learn about the FAFSA process and how to get started. 

3. Gather your documents

The FSA ID form will ask for a full legal name, your birthdate, your address and a Social Security number. You’ll need your family’s tax documents for this information. Both students and parents must get the legal name, social security number and birth date exactly right for the Social Security match process to work. Ideally, look at your Social Security cards, but looking at your family’s tax forms should also work. And remember that parents without Social Security numbers will be doing some things differently to get their FSA ID. Read our article for parents without Social Security numbers to learn how this will go. 

4. Reboot your computer

Trust us. You’ve probably been doing a million things. Your computer needs a fresh start. Do a full reboot of your computer. If you know how to clear your cache, do that as well.  

5. Open (just) one window in your favorite browser

Really, try to stick to one window. You can also have your email up since you’ll need it for email verification. But in general, you want to keep your computer focused on this one task. Leave your school assignments, gaming console, YouTube and everything else for later. 😉

6. Or use your cell phone

You can also use your cell phone to obtain your FSA ID. Sometimes phone browsers work better than desktop browsers. Try your phone if you get an error message trying to do this on your computer or laptop. 

7. Get started

Navigate to Federal Student Aid’s “Create an Account” page: https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/sign-in/landing. Click the box on the bottom: Create an Account 

8. Create your login

For the email, be sure to use your favorite personal email, not a school email. Type in a password you will remember. Also important: Set up both phone and email verification. It will be easy to reset your account if you forget anything. Last: Write this info down and keep it somewhere safe. You will be using this FSA Account again and again in the years to come. 

9. Follow directions carefully

This process is relatively simple. It’s similar to other login accounts you’ve created over the years. But, again, it’s important to get your account information right. Look at your family’s tax forms and make sure to type in your name and Social Security number exactly as it has been written on the taxes. Type slowly and carefully. One typo or a misspelling can cause problems, forcing you to start over. But if all goes well, you’ll have your new FSA ID within minutes. 🙂

10. See a spinning circle or a pink warning box?

The government’s website gets overloaded these days. Our best advice at the moment: Try to set up your FSA ID in the morning. But you can try again now, if you want. First, reboot your computer and redo the form in a different web browser. (Started with Chrome? Try Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari. Sometimes fixes things.) And make double-triple sure that you filled out the form right. If you get a pink warning bar the second time, give up for the moment and come back tomorrow morning. If all else fails, try starting over again with a new email and password. (Not great, we know, but sometimes necessary.) Repeat the steps above, if needed. 

Still having problems?

There is help. You can try calling the federal government’s FAFSA hotline at 1-800-433-3243. (Though, fair warning, the help desk has been seriously over burdened during this period. Very few people we know have been able to get through to an FSA representative.) Maybe the FAFSA’s contact page for other ways to get assistance or keep watching this website for work-around strategies. 

Did you run into technical issues? Have a strategy that worked for you? Email us. Let us know about it and we’ll share your tip with others. 

LATEST UPDATE: January 18, 2024