Posted Date: April 11, 2013
Lisa DiCarlo, Director, Student Experience Group, Federal Student Aid
Subject: Overview of April 2013 Enhancements to Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Web
As part of Federal Student Aid’s ongoing mission to simplify and streamline the student aid application experience for students and parents, several enhancements to the FAFSA on the Web site will be implemented on April 21, 2013.
In order to better support applicants and their parents with inquiries related to these enhancements, financial aid administrators and support staff should familiarize themselves with these upcoming changes and update any training materials or services.
April 2013 Enhancements
Implementation of MyStudentData Download Functionality – As described in the November 13, 2012 electronic announcement on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site, the MyStudentData Download function allows a student with a valid PIN to download certain data elements from his or her processed 2013-2014 FAFSA into a machine-readable, plain text file. The announcement provides a detailed record layout of student data that will be downloaded from FAFSA on the Web using the MyStudentData Download function.
Revised “Confirmation” and “My FAFSA” Pages and E-mails – Text displayed on the FAFSA on the Web “Confirmation” and “My FAFSA” Web pages and confirmation and SAR processing notification e-mails sent to applicants will be enhanced and reordered. These updates clarify and increase the visibility of guidance provided to applicants on actions they should take after submitting their FAFSA on the Web application. Additionally, the “View Processed Information” buttons on the “My FAFSA” page for users whose latest transaction was processed successfully will be replaced by “Student Aid Report” hyperlinks.
Redesigned “Help” Page – The FAFSA on the Web “Help” page will be redesigned to provide a more intuitive layout, organization, and flow to the options and topics available to students. The overall goal of this enhancement is to steer applicants to self-help options. A new menu of help categories representing the different stages in the FAFSA processing cycle, Trending Topics, and an easily distinguishable search field and button are some of the changes applicants will see. In addition, students will be able to search for several new or revised help topics, such as those that provide updated information about IRS Data Retrieval Tool eligibility and IRS tax return processing time frames.
Enhanced Functionality for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool Filtering Questions – In January, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool filtering questions were redesigned for improved clarity and usability. The filtering questions will be further enhanced to dynamically display based on the user’s responses, potentially reducing the number of questions that must be answered.
After logging into FAFSA on the Web, students can access the MyStudentData Download button from the “My FAFSA” page. Students can choose a specific transaction to download in English or Spanish to a specific location on their personal computer. The downloaded file will be saved in comma-separated values (CSV) format, and can be opened easily in a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, for further viewing, sorting, and printing. The downloaded file will contain specific FAFSA field labels and the corresponding values provided by the applicant for the selected transaction.
The ideas and recommendations offered by students, parents, financial aid professionals, and other partners continue to guide the enhancements made to FAFSA on the Web, and Federal Student Aid welcomes that feedback to improve the user experience.