Office of Federal Student Aid Considers 3 Improvements to FSA ID

February 22, 2016

By Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations
Last fall, NCAN began receiving complaints in volume from members reporting that the new process to create an FSA ID was causing significant challenges for low-income students. NCAN shared members’ comments and recommendations with the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), and we are pleased to report that FSA is “working to reduce the burden” for three aspects of the process. Thanks to all members who took the time to share their thoughts with NCAN or with FSA directly. Your expertise makes a difference and will benefit millions of FAFSA filers.

Last month, FSA informed NCAN that it was working with its Office of Inspector General to address these issues:

  • Too many security questions required to create FSA ID
  • 30-minute wait to reset password using security challenge questions (too long)
  • Password expiration every 18 months (too frequent)

Many thanks to FSA for listening to NCAN’s concerns and working on changes. We feel fortunate to have such a positive feedback loop between our field and a government agency that is so important to students. NCAN will keep members updated on any forthcoming improvements, and we encourage you to continue to report FSA ID difficulties directly to the agency.

In their comments about the FSA ID, NCAN members uniformly recognized that a security upgrade to the previous, simpler PIN system was necessary in today’s world of data theft. But they also observed that the security features were much more cumbersome that industry-standard practices for financial institutions and suggested changes that were more user-friendly while still more secure.

Because creating an FSA ID is the first step for students applying for federal student aid, we must keep the process as simple as possible. Otherwise we risk decreased FAFSA applications, especially by low-income students. Among high school seniors, FAFSA filers are 35 percentage points more likely than nonfilers to enter college, and FAFSA filers are 8 percentage points more likely to complete a credential. In 2014, only 55 percent of high school seniors completed FAFSA, leaving an estimated $2.7 billion in federal aid on the table. Significantly increasing FAFSA completions is a key strategy for making major gains in postsecondary completion. Every bump we can smooth in the process could yield thousands of degrees.

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