The new FAFSA Submission issues are causing some frustration for students, parents, and college financial aid offices. The anticipation of the new FAFSA launch by the end of December launch was misunderstood by many. It was officially a soft launch while many expected the FAFSA to be fully available.
In reality, the soft launch allowed for minimal access by the Department of Ed (DOE), so it could meet the legal requirement. In addition, it occurred on a holiday weekend, which limited any support. Full submission access was made available on 1/9. We are still in a soft launch period since the schools still need to receive data. According to the current DOE plan, the school data will be available on January 30th.
PayForED has compiled a list of current issues that users are facing. These are often open issues where a FAFSA cannot be completed. We tried to list the workaround if available.
Identifying FAFSA Contributor
Under FAFSA Simplification people who need to complete the FAFSA are called contributors. These FAFSA participants could include students, spouses of students, parents, and stepparents. With the IRS integration, a student or parent’s tax filing decision will determine who needs to contribute to the FAFSA and who needs to be invited.
Fix – Identify all the contributors and confirm that each has an FSA ID and Password before starting the FAFSA. Use the 2022 tax submission to identify who needs one correctly.
Inviting a Contributor Before They Established an FAFSA ID
Some FAFSA-submitting students are starting their FAFSA without identifying or discovering a contributor who needs to be included in their FAFSA submission. If the new contributor starts the FAFSA without an FSA ID, then the system could lock them out because they do not have an FSA ID to reenter the FAFSA System.
Fix – Confirm that all required contributors have an FSA ID before starting the FAFSA, especially if they were overlooked during the FAFSA submitter’s initial review.
Undocumented or Contributor Without Social Security Numbers
As you can see, creating the FSA ID is critical to the new FAFSA Process. If a contributor is unable to create a FSA ID then they cannot become a contributor under the normal process. The catch-22 issue is you need a social security number to create an ID. There is a bug within the FSA ID system.
Fix -Contact your school’s guidance office or state’s higher education system for additional assistance.
FAFSA Signatures Being Deleted
When a FAFSA submission requires more than two contributors, the prior signatures are deleted after the third contributor signs the FAFSA. This error primarily occurs when one of the prior submitters goes in and makes a change before the third contributor accesses the system. The most common situation is when parents file their taxes as married and separate and are contributors for a dependent child.
Fix – Have all contributors complete the FAFSA and do not make any changes until it is submitted. For example, if you need to add or delete a school, do it after the initial submission. Remember schools do not get the information until late January.
Truncated School Names and FAFSA School Codes
The FAFSA college list has truncated some of the school names. This problem occurs when the school has multiple campuses and has the campus location at the end of its name. There are also some reports that some FAFSA School Codes are old numbers.
Fix – Visit the school’s website to confirm the FAFSA School code to use.
Pell Eligibility Letters Being Issued to Graduate Students
Some Graduate students are getting Pell eligibility letters stating they qualify for this grant. Graduate students do not qualify for Pell grants. It is still being determined if this is limited to students who are in multi-degree programs that, in specific years, have both undergraduate and graduate status.
Fix – Understand the Pell Grants are not available for graduate school programs and will not be part of the final financial award and school bill.
Link to State Grant Programs
Under the old FAFSA process, many of the state’s grant programs had a direct interface with the FAFSA. It is still being determined if any of the states are connected under the new FAFSA.
FIX – Contact your state’s higher education department to confirm the process required to submit your application for state grant money. Confirm the deadline for submission since you may need to submit your FAFSA Summary Report (FSS) and other documents. The FSS replaced the Student Aid Report or SAR under FAFSA simplification.
Possible Delays in Award Letters and Appeals
The FAFSA Simplification is a new process for contributors and the school’s financial aid offices. We know schools will not be receiving student FAFSAs until late January. We have also heard that testing data has been limited so the schools may have their own delays due to these changes and internal interfaces with the FAFSA data.
Fix – Anticipate delays in the award letter. If you experienced a change in your financial position, understand each school’s appeal process. Draft your appeal letter now since each school must make its own adjustments. Even though this year’s FAFSA uses 2022 taxes, get your 2023 tax done early to reflect the change, if applicable, properly.
FAFSA Submission Issues Conclusion
With change, there are always some bumps in the road. The problem is that the DOE has had over four years to complete this work. For students and parents, this is a very emotional and expensive decision. For many the financial aid package will determine if a student can attend their dream school.
On the positive side, we have heard that the IRS integration is much better than the old DRT system. We also heard once you are in the system, it does take less time since there are fewer questions.
In addition to the process changes, significant FAFSA calculation changes may impact both new and returning students’ financial aid. If you need help understanding the financial award or how to properly structure the debt, please contact one of our advisors. Structuring the college debt is often overlooked, and it will determine your repayment, forgiveness options, and who is legally responsible for the debt. PayForED is here to help with your college funding and repayment questions.