Posted Date: April 4, 2014

Author:  Lisa DiCarlo, Director, Student Experience Group, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Overview of April 2014 Enhancements to the FAFSA on the Web Site

As part of Federal Student Aid’s ongoing mission to simplify and streamline the student aid application experience for students and parents, we are implementing several enhancements to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Web site on April 13, 2014.

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.

  • Updated Response to HS Diploma/GED Question – We are updating the “GED certificate” response option for the question “When you begin college in the 20XX-20XX school year, what will be your high school completion status?” to “GED certificate or state authorized high school equivalent certificate” in Student Application Entry, Student Correction Entry, and on the List of Changes page. Students should select this reworded response when submitting applications or corrections if they have a state-authorized high school equivalent certificate that the issuing state recognizes as the equivalent of a high school diploma.

  • Clarified Guidance on Reporting Non-Custodial Parent Support – We are updating the Web page label and associated help topics for the “Money received, or paid on student’s behalf” question in Student Application Entry, Student Correction Entry, and on the List of Changes page to more clearly advise students that financial support received from a non-custodial parent should be reported as untaxed income if it is not part of a legal child support agreement.

  • Clarified Confirmation Page Guidance for Parental Data Transfer Option – We are updating the warning message text we display on the Confirmation page to dependent applicants who select the option to transfer parental FAFSA information from the submitted application to a sibling’s application. The revised warning message text advises applicants to verify they will be using the correct parental information before transferring the data to their sibling’s application.

  • Additional DOMA-Related Label and Dynamic Text Updates – As described in the 2014-2015 Summary of Changes for the Application Processing System Guide, we updated the 2014-2015 version of the FAFSA on the Web site to revise labels for parental questions and provide additional guidance to applicants who are same-sex married couples or have same-sex married parents. These changes were made to comply with the Supreme Court’s  decision that struck down  Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). For further information about 2014-2015 changes related to the collection of parental information, see Dear Colleague Letter GEN-13-12.

    In the April 2014 update to the FAFSA on the Web site, we are implementing additional updates to question labels and other Web page text to use gender-neutral references such as “parent 1” and “parent 2” when referring to parental information on the FAFSA, particularly when the “Married/Remarried” response is selected for the Parents’ Marital Status field.  These changes will apply to multiple functions on the Web site, including Student Application Entry, Student Correction Entry, the List of Changes page, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the “Sign and Submit” page, and the “Provide Signature” page.

    In most cases, fields most commonly labeled as “Father/Stepfather” will now be labeled as “Parent 1 (Father/Mother/Stepparent)” and fields previously labeled as “Mother/Stepmother” will now be labeled “Parent 2 (Father/Mother/Stepparent).”

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 we welcome that feedback to improve the user experience.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding the upcoming changes described in this message, 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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