The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the coming school year will be available on October 1.  It’s a good idea to complete the FAFSA every year that your student will be in college.  Before you are ready to sit down and complete the application (it really isn’t difficult), you will need to have your FSA ID.

Why do I need an FSA ID?

The FSA ID allows for single sign-on access to a number of U.S. Department of Education services including the National Student Loan Data System, and completing your FAFSA form.  Both the student and the parent completing the FAFSA will need their own FSA ID.  The student and the parent will each use their own FSA ID to sign the FAFSA.

How to apply for the FSA ID

To obtain an FSA ID go to  You will need to create a Username and password.  The Department of Education also recommends that you provide your unique email address and cell phone number.  The parent and student cannot share the same email address or cell phone number for purposes of the FSA ID.  In other words, any email address or cell phone number provided must be unique for that FSA ID account.  The email address or cell number can be used to retrieve your username and password.  Since the FSA ID will be used as a legally binding signature on the FAFSA and other items such as Master Promissory Notes and PLUS Loan requests, it is important that access to each FSA ID remains restricted to owner.  You will use this FSA ID each year going forward.

Note: If you do not supply (and verify) an email address or cell phone number, you can retrieve lost or forgotten usernames and passwords by successfully answering challenge questions.

Each FSA ID applicant will need to provide their name, date of birth and social security number and optionally, a mailing address.  One of the benefits of using the FSA ID is that it reduces the number of times that you must enter and transmit your social security number on the sites that use the FSA ID for verification.  Each applicant will also need to set 4 challenge questions and answers.  And, if you have chosen to provide an email address or cell phone number, you should complete the verification process for the email or cell phone account.

How long does it take?

Once you have obtained your FSA ID you can use it immediately to file a first time FAFSA.  However, until your FSA ID has been matched with the Social Security Administration (which takes 1-3 days) you cannot use the FSA ID for any other purposes – not even a FAFSA renewal.  So, if you completed a FAFSA a few years ago before the Department of Education switched to the new FSA ID system, you will not be able to use the FSA ID to pull your previously completed information and submit a FAFSA renewal until your FSA ID has been checked with the Social Security Administration.

Making life easier

For the sake of making the process of completing the FAFSA easier, request your FSA ID early or ensure that you have access to your previously established FSA ID now.  The form itself isn’t difficult but actually coordinating the time for both the parent and the student to complete and submit their own portions can be.  Getting this step out of the way now can ease that process.