Going with “the Fed SAID”
Those in the world of financial aid are always wondering what our friendly Fed had to say. So, we are going to tell you about what the Fed SAID. OK. Yes, the title of this Regulatory Bulletin is a bit of a play on words and acronyms. But, it is to focus on the importance of what the Feds (i.e., the US Department of Education or, ED) have said is occurring as of May 10, 2015. That is, the long-time use of the Federal Student Aid PIN is going by the wayside, just like those old car headlight dimmer switches you have seen pictures of on one of those Facebook, “who remembers what this is?” postings. But, the FSA PIN was a necessity for students applying for Federal Student Aid (FSA)! What happens to that process now? As of Sunday, May 10, 2015, all students who wish to use login access for Federal Student Aid Web sites will need to utilize a new Federal Student Aid ID or, as it will be known in shorthand: FSA ID.
The change to the FSA ID employs user-selected usernames and passwords as a replacement for the prior FSA PIN. The new FSA ID gives greater functionality that allows for a single sign-on process for most of FSA’s systems. This conversion will eliminate the need for users to enter individual personal identifiers, such as Social Security number, date of birth, etc. This change also brings the access to FSA sites more in line with industry security standards and best practices. The new login process that requires the FSA ID will be applicable to such borrower- and student-based Web sites as FAFSA on the Web, NSLDS Student Access, StudentLoans.gov, StudentAid.gov, and the TEACH Grant Website.
Individuals who currently have an FSA PIN will be able to link it to the new FSA ID during the registration process. Once an individual has registered for the FSA ID, it will be e-mailed to the address provided in the registration process. The registrant will need to verify their e-mail address using a secure code sent to them via e-mail. Upon that step being completed, the individual may utilize his or her e-mail address to log in to the various Web sites instead of the username. Also, if the individual’s old FSA PIN was linked to the new FSA ID during the registration process, upon verifying the e-mail address, the student or borrower will be able to immediately begin using the FSA ID to access the Web sites mentioned above. If a prior valid FSA PIN is not included in the registration process, the individual will have to wait for the Social Security Administration to verify the registrant’s information. This should take from one to three days.
ED has provided a sample flyer or poster that may be used to distribute this information about the FSA ID registration process to students. This step-by-step guide was disseminated as an attachment to the May 4, 2015, Electronic Announcement. Schools may find this tool useful in helping communicate the process for making a switch from the old FSA PIN to the newly required FSA ID.
As of May 10, 2015, if a student tries to log in to one of the FSA Web sites mentioned above and the student has not yet registered for the new FSA ID, the student will be redirected to another link to accomplish the registration. It is stated that the registration process should not take more than seven minutes.
A point of interest is that ED has requested that schools ensure they “whitelist” the FSA ID e-mail. This means that you have had your technology department or a staff member include fsaid.ed.gov as a trusted domain address for your institution. Doing so will help prevent any students’ registration confirmation e-mails from being blocked or marked as spam if the student has an e-mail account at your school. For example, if you have students obtain a school e-mail, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, it will be important to ensure that you have fsaid.ed.gov marked as a trusted address domain.
Schools are reminded that this change from the use of the PIN to the FSA ID is only applicable to students and borrowers (e.g., parent PLUS Loan borrowers). The login process for financial aid administrators for FSA sites is not being impacted by the change in the students’ and borrowers’ process.
One final piece of information concerning what the Fed said about the FSA ID. Only the owner of the FSA ID should be the one to create and use it. The FSA ID represents an electronic legal signature, and must only be used by the individual to whom it is registered.
For more detailed information on this new FSA ID, feel free to review the Electronic Announcements from October 1, 2014, January 12, 2015, April 13, 2015, May 4, 2015, and May 7, 2015. FAME clients may submit any questions regarding this topic through the Client Solution Center.
This material is presented for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be giving legal advice.
(EA 10012014; 01122015; 04132015; 05042015; 05072015)