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Who Needs An FSA ID?: Demystifying FSA IDs for Students and Parents

By: TxCAN   |   November 2023

Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a critical step in securing financial assistance for higher education. One essential requirement is the Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID), which often raises questions, especially for students who are dependent. In this blog, TxCAN will clarify who needs an FSA ID, ensuring a smoother FAFSA application process.

All Students Need an FSA ID:
First and foremost, it's essential to understand that every student applying for FAFSA must obtain an FSA ID. The FSA ID serves as your digital signature, allowing you to electronically sign your FAFSA and access your financial aid information. If you are unsure if your student should be filling out the FAFSA form, they can take this quick quiz to verify if the FAFSA is the correct financial aid form for them.

In order to create an FSA ID, students will need a verified email address (not their school email address). This email will be used for communication and verification purposes throughout the FAFSA process.  

For Dependent Students:
Dependent students are those who are financially supported by their parents or legal guardians. When it comes to obtaining FSA IDs, the requirements depend on the parents' or stepparents' filing status.
1. Parents/Stepparents Filing Taxes Jointly:

  • If the parents or stepparents file taxes jointly, only ONE of them needs an FSA ID.
  • The parent or stepparent obtaining the FSA ID will be the one completing the parent section of the FAFSA.
2. Parents/Stepparents Not Filing Taxes Jointly:
  • If the parents or stepparents do not file taxes jointly or are non-filers (not required to file taxes), BOTH parents or stepparents must each obtain their own FSA IDs.
  • This ensures that both parents complete the parent section of the FAFSA due to their filing status.
3. Parents/Stepparents Who are Separated or Divorced
Dependent students may have unique circumstances that make it more difficult to determine which parents' financial information will need to be reported. Please review the “Who is My Parent” graphic below.

Additional Tips and Considerations:
  • FSA IDs will need to be authenticated with the Social Security number administration, which may take approximately 3 days. Be sure to plan ahead to ensure your FSA ID is fully functional during FAFSA completion. It’s highly recommended that college access practitioners host FSA ID drives before December 2023.
  • It’s strongly suggested that during FSA ID drives practitioners should account for two computers/laptops per family (student and parent/guardian). Additionally, you may want to have certain computers/laptops available for email creation only. Be mindful that many students and families don’t have an email. Email addresses are needed in order to create an FSA ID.
  • Parents who have already created an FSA ID before for their own educational journey or their older children do not need to create a new one. Please be advised that depending on their filing status, another FSA ID may need to be created for their spouse in order to complete the parent section of the FAFSA.
  • Parents without SSNs will also need to create FSA IDs, and they will be required to provide alternative forms of identification during the FSA ID creation process. However, the process for FSA ID creation for parents without SSNs will not be available until the FAFSA opens in December.  
  • Start planning your spring FAFSA events after you return from Winter Break. Recently The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board announced that the 2024-25 State Financial Aid Priority deadline has been updated to March 15, 2024. Consider hosting a “Complete your Financial Aid and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” Financial Aid drive during the month of February.  
Resources for FSA IDs: Conclusion:
Understanding the FSA ID requirements for dependent students with parents or stepparents is crucial for a successful FAFSA application process. Whether you're assisting a dependent student with parents who file jointly or not, obtaining the right number of FSA IDs will simplify the application and ensure that the student’s financial aid eligibility is accurately assessed.
Remember that the FSA ID is a secure and vital component of the FAFSA process. Please make sure to encourage your students and their families to create one before December 2023 to avoid any delays in completing the FAFSA form during the spring semester.  

The Texas College Access Network (TxCAN) connects and supports college access initiatives across Texas, with the goal of increasing access to college and certificate programs.