What is the FSA ID?

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By Mark Kantrowitz

July 27, 2021

The FSA ID is an electronic signature used to sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and federal education loan promissory notes. The FSA ID consists of a username and a password. It is sometimes called a FAFSA ID. You must file the FAFSA in order to get a federal student loan.

This electronic identification provides a single sign-on for accessing various U.S. Department of Education websites , including fafsa.gov and studentaid.gov .

Signing the FAFSA with an FSA ID leads to faster processing of the FAFSA, as compared with printing, signing and mailing a paper signature page.

The FSA ID replaced the FSA PIN on May 10, 2015. The FSA ID is more secure than the FSA PIN, but can be more difficult to use.

When to get an FSA ID 

You can get a FSA ID at any time. You do not have to wait until the October 1 start date for the FAFSA to get a FSA ID. It is best to get an FSA ID early, before you apply for financial aid, just in case there are problems.

Who should get an FSA ID

The student and the student‘s parent (if the student is a dependent student) each need their own FSA ID.

Each FSA ID must be associated with a different email address. If the student or parent does not have an email address, they can get a free web-based email account at gmail.com, live.com or mail.com.

The parent should not create a FSA ID for the student and the student should not create a FSA ID for the parent. Doing so often leads to problems. It is also illegal.

Never share your FSA ID with anybody, not even a relative.

How to create an FSA ID

Visit the federal student aid website, fsaid.ed.gov, to create an FSA ID.

When creating an FSA ID, double check that the information you provide is correct. Errors in the name, Social Security Number, date of birth or address can lead to delays. Use your Social Security Card to verify that your name and Social Security Number are accurate. Use your legal name, as listed on the Social Security Card. Do not substitute a nickname or middle name for your first name.

The username should be at least six characters long. The username can be a combination of letters and numbers.

The FSA ID password can be eight to 30 characters long. The password can be a combination of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers and special characters. The password cannot match your name, Social Security Number or date of birth. The password must be changed every 18 months.

If the FSA ID website complains about an invalid email address, check for spaces and other typos in the email address. People enter their email address incorrectly rather often.

You will receive an email message to confirm that your email address works. If you don’t receive the email, check your spam folder. The email message will come from fsa-id@ed.gov.

The FSA ID may be used with the FAFSA immediately.

If you get a message about a problem verifying your Social Security Number, it means there is a database mismatch between the name, date of birth and Social Security Number you supplied and the Social Security Administration’s records. Check the information again carefully and correct the errors. Your FSA ID will be locked until you fix the problem.

How to prevent and fix problems 

Write down your FSA ID username and password on a piece of paper, along with your email address and the answers to your challenge questions. Keep this somewhere safe, or take a picture of it with your smartphone. It is not uncommon for people to forget their username or password, email address or the answers to their challenge questions.

If you have a mobile phone, add your mobile phone number to the FSA ID, as it can help you resolve problems with the FSA ID more quickly.

What happens If you forget your password?

If you forget your FSA ID‘s password, your FSA ID will get locked. You get only three login attempts before the FSA ID will lock.

If you don’t remember your username or password, use the forgot username or forgot password tools, rather than guess.

If your FSA ID is locked, you must unlock the FSA ID and then immediately change the password. If you do not change the password before using the FSA ID again, the FSA ID will relock.

To unlock the FSA ID, you can answer your challenge questions, have an unlock code texted to your cell phone, or have an unlock code emailed to your email address. You must work quickly, as the unlock code will expire after a short period of time. Look in your spam folder if you can’t find the email message. There may be a delay after the FSA ID is unlocked and the password changed before you can use the FSA ID again.

Common problems 

Some of the most common causes of problems with the FSA ID occur when a parent creates a new FSA ID for their child and tries to complete the FAFSA form for them. When a parent tries to complete both parts of the FAFSA, they sometimes get confused. This leads to several common errors, such as:

  • Swapping student and parent names 
  • The parent completing the FAFSA application as though they were going to college, instead of the student.
  • Entering a sibling’s  Social Security Number or date of birth instead of the student’s 
  • Using the wrong FSA ID to start or sign the FAFSA.
  • The FSA ID gets locked because the parent used the wrong password.
  • Other common errors include:

Other common errors include:

  • Swapping first and last names. The FAFSA asks for the last name first and the first name last. Read the questions carefully.
  • Incorrect date of birth. The most common errors involve a digit transposition in the year or swapping the month and date. But, sometimes people do misremember their birth date.
  • Errors in the Social Security Number. Digit transpositions are common. Undocumented parents cannot get a FSA ID and must use 000-00-0000 on the FAFSA. Do not substitute a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for the Social Security Number.
  • Social Security Number already in use. This warning often occurs when a parent created a FSA ID for the student but never told them about it. It can also be a sign of identity theft.
  • Change in address. The address on the FSA ID must match the address on the tax return, or you can’t use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool . If you have moved, file IRS Form 8822 to update your address with the IRS and wait a few weeks before using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool .

How to Get Help With FSA ID Problems

If you encounter problems with the FSA ID, call 1-800-557-7394 (TTY 1-800-730-8913).

You can also contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center , which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or clicking on the Chat with Us button. Do not send username or password information by email, as it is not secure.

 

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