Posted Date: March 25, 2010

Author:  Richard J. Gordon, Chief Information Officer, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Resolution of FAFSA Technical Website Error

We have identified and resolved a technical website error on the 2010-2011 FAFSA that misdirected a limited number of 2010-2011 applicants to the 2009-2010 FAFSA. As a result, some applicants may have submitted a 2009-2010 FAFSA instead of the 2010-2011 FAFSA they intended to file. We believe the error affected fewer than 5,000 students nationwide, which is approximately 0.2 percent of the more than 2.8 million applications received during the relevant period. Note: Personally identifiable information students shared in the FAFSA continues to be safe and secure.

What Happened?

Due to a technical error, some 2010-2011 applicants attempting to access the FAFSA using an unsupported browser were misdirected to the 2009-2010 form after receiving a warning message indicating that their browser was not supported. The problem began after an update to the website on February 23 and was brought to our attention on March 11, when we were contacted by a university reporting that 2 students were experiencing the problem. After a comprehensive analysis, the technical website error was resolved on March 16.

Outreach to Potentially Affected Applicants

Starting Friday, March 26 we will contact potentially affected applicants through email notifications (and letters for students for whom we do not have a valid email addresses). The notification (see attached) briefly describes the situation and helps the applicant determine whether action must be taken.

Applicants who intended to file a 2010-2011 FAFSA but, due to this error, filed a 2009-2010 FAFSA instead, are advised to contact our Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID. A trained Customer Service Representative will help affected students complete the 2010-2011 FAFSA.

We are asking postsecondary institutions to accommodate these students by being flexible with deadlines. And we are working with state grant agencies and asking them to have the same deadline flexibility.

Outreach to Postsecondary Institutions and States

We will provide information to postsecondary institutions and state grant agencies about their students who, responding to our notifications, contacted the Customer Service Center. This information will allow the institutions and agencies to follow up with affected students and provide deadline flexibility. We will post an Electronic Announcement to IFAP next week with details on how this information will be provided.

We regret any difficulties this problem may have caused you or your students. We expect institutions and agencies to accommodate affected students and be flexible with deadlines.

Contact Information

If you have any questions on this issue, please contact our Research and Customer Care Center staff at 1-800-433-7327, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM (Eastern Time). After hours calls will be accepted by an automated voice response system and returned the next business day. You may also reach the Customer Care Center staff by fax at (202) 275-5532, or by e-mail at fsa.customer.support@ed.gov.

If your students have questions regarding FAFSA on the Web or this particular issue, please ask them to contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (800-433-3243) between 8am and Midnight (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. The call center will also be open for extended hours on Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 from 8am to Midnight (Eastern Time). TTY service is also available for the hearing-impaired at 800-730-8913. For students calling from outside the United States, contact us at 319-337-5665.

Attachment/Enclosure:

Text of Notification to Students in PDF Format, 55KB, 1 page

   

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