Posted Date: July 8, 2011

Author:  William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid

Subject: 2011-2012 FAFSA Submission Guidance for Students Impacted by New SSA Guidelines

As described in the June 23, 2011 electronic announcement posted to the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site, the Social Security Administration (SSA) implemented new guidelines on June 25, 2011 for assigning Social Security Numbers (SSNs) that include assigning SSNs in previously unused numeric ranges. We are continuing to evaluate the impact this change will have on all of our Federal Student Aid systems and processes. In this announcement, we focus on information related to our application processing systems. We will communicate about the impact to other systems through forthcoming announcements.

Application Processing System Impact and Interim Guidelines

The change in procedure by the SSA impacts the ongoing 2011-2012 application process in several ways. The Central Processing System (CPS) uses the previously unassigned "888" SSN range to assign pseudo-SSNs to students from the Pacific Islands who would not otherwise be able to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). With the SSA change, there is now a very minor risk that a Pacific Islander’s pseudo-SSN will match a student who is assigned an "888" SSN by the SSA under its new guidelines. Additionally, our application submission systems (such as FAFSA on the Web and the FAA Access to CPS Online Web site) were developed to identify and reject applications using SSN ranges that were not considered valid.

We are developing a permanent solution to account for the change in SSN assignments and plan to implement it on October 23, 2011. In the interim, we ask schools to use the following guidelines when assisting students who are assigned SSNs after June 25, 2011 with 2011-2012 FAFSA submissions:

  • Students assigned an SSN that falls within the previously unused numeric ranges except "888":

    The FAFSA on the Web and FAA Access to CPS Online Web sites perform data edits for new applications based on the valid numeric ranges that were previously provided by the SSA. Based on the editing rules, students assigned an SSN that falls within the previously unused numeric ranges will not be able to use FAFSA on the Web to submit their applications until October 23, 2011. In addition, you will also not be able to submit applications on their behalf using the FAA Access to CPS Online Web site.

    You should direct these students to complete a paper FAFSA. Students can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) to request a paper FAFSA be mailed to them, or they can use the PDF FAFSA version available online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/options.htm (English) or http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/es_ES/options.htm (Spanish). See the "If You Have Questions" section later in this message for FSAIC contact information.

    After submitting the paper FAFSA, these students should also apply for a PIN using Federal Student Aid’s PIN Web site (pin.ed.gov). After the paper FAFSA has been processed, these students, provided they received a successful match with the SSA, will be able to interact with our system as they normally would, including accessing FAFSA on the Web using their PIN, reviewing their processed application, making corrections, and using other online options. Students who do not receive a successful match with SSA should submit corrections using the paper Student Aid Report (SAR) mailed to them following processing of their applications. Alternatively, you can submit corrections for these students using the FAA Access to CPS Online Web site until there is a successful match with the SSA.

  • Students who are Pacific Islanders:

    You can continue to submit 2011-2012 FAFSAs for Pacific Islander students using the current "888" pseudo-SSN process. When we update our systems on October 23, 2011, we will convert all Pacific Islander records from the 2004-2005 cycle through the 2011-2012 cycle to a new pseudo-SSN range starting with "666" (instead of "888"). For all Pacific Islander records from the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 cycles (submitted through October 23, 2011), we will also system-generate new SAR/ISIR transactions for these students. We will communicate the details of this reprocessing in later communications.  

  • Students randomly assigned a new SSN by the SSA which begins with "888":

    After June 25, 2011, students may be randomly assigned an SSN that begins with 888-XX-XXX. Until October 23, 2011, these students will not be able to submit a FAFSA using FAFSA on the Web or a paper FAFSA. In addition, you will not be able to submit FAFSAs on behalf of these students using the FAA Access to CPS Online Web site and should refrain from submitting application data through other means such as Electronic Data Exchange (EDE) with the CPS. Students in this situation should be directed to contact the FSAIC for special handling.

Note: We are in the process of adding messaging to the FAFSA on the Web site advising students experiencing login issues who were recently assigned an SSN by the SSA to contact the FSAIC. The messaging text will read "Alert! If you have recently been issued a Social Security Number, you may encounter an error when you try to start your FAFSA. If this occurs, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 for additional instructions on how to complete your FAFSA."

If You Have Questions

We appreciate the community’s understanding and patience as we modify our systems in response to the new SSA guidelines. Please continue to monitor the IFAP Web site for additional communications about the SSA change, its impact to our systems, and our October 2011 system updates.

If you have questions regarding this message, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806) or by e-mail at CPSSAIG@ed.gov.

If your students have questions regarding the application process, ask them to contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800/4-FEDAID (800/433-3243) or by e-mail at FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov. TDD/TTY service is also available at 800/730-8913.

   

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