Do I Need an FSA ID to File the FAFSA?

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By Mark Kantrowitz

October 13, 2020

You do not need an FSA ID to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but it is highly recommended.

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid allowing students to apply for financial aid for college from the federal government, state governments and most colleges and universities. Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, student employment and federal student loans.

An FSA ID is needed to sign the online FAFSA electronically. If you don’t have an FSA ID, you can start the FAFSA using the student’s identifiers and sign the FAFSA by printing, signing and mailing a signature page. 

If you do not use an FSA ID to sign the online FAFSA, it can take longer for the FAFSA to be processed, as long as 2-3 weeks instead of as little as 3-5 days.

The student and parent must each have their own FSA ID in order to sign the FAFSA electronically.

An FSA ID is also needed to make changes to the FAFSA online.

An FSA ID may also be needed to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) for a federal education loan, to complete entrance and exit counseling for federal student loans, to obtain a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan and to change student loan repayment plans for Direct Loans. Parents will need an FSA ID to apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan.

One also does not need an FSA ID to sign a paper FAFSA. More than 99% of FAFSAs are filed online. 

Some people are unable to get an FSA ID.

  • Children under age 13 cannot get an FSA ID or use the online FAFSA because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). They must use a paper FAFSA. 
  • People who do not have a valid Social Security Number cannot create an FSA ID. An individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) cannot be used to create an FSA ID. 
  • Parents who are undocumented or not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cannot create an FSA ID. 

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