Posted Date: May 22, 2015

Author:  Pamela Eliadis, Service Director, System Operations & Aid Delivery Management, Federal Student Aid
Brenda Wensil, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Federal Student Aid

Subject: FSA ID/PIN Replacement - FSA ID Additional Information and Helpful Hints

As we announced in a May 11, 2015 electronic announcement, the FSA ID was successfully implemented on May 10, 2015. The FSA ID, made up of a username and password, has replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN and is now being used by students, parents, and borrowers to access personal financial aid information online and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents.

To date, more than two million users have successfully created an FSA ID. In addition, we have recorded more than five million successful FSA ID authentications (users logging in) on FAFSA on the Web, NSLDS Student Access, StudentLoans.gov, StudentAid.gov, and the TEACH Grant website.

While the vast majority of users who have created an FSA ID have done so without issue, questions coming in to our contact centers indicate that some users do not understand that the FSA ID has replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN, and that an FSA ID must be created in order to log in. As a general resource for these individuals, as well as for the many users who still need to create an FSA ID, information about the FSA ID and frequently asked questions are available on our website at StudentAid.gov/fsaid. Additionally, the one-page guide on how to create an FSA ID that we attached to our May 4, 2015 electronic announcement may be useful to share with students, parents, and borrowers.

To further assist the financial aid community respond to questions from students, we would like to provide several reminders and helpful hints about the FSA ID. We provide this information in the following order:

  • Linking a PIN to the FSA ID

  • Unique E-mail Address on FSA ID Account

  • Correcting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on FSA ID Account

  • Verifying the FSA ID E-mail Address

  • Supported Browsers

  • Additional Information for Adding Fsaid.ed.gov as a Trusted Domain

  • No Change to FSA User ID Process for FAAs

  • FSA ID Contact Information

Linking a PIN to the FSA ID

An individual who already has a PIN with a successful match from the Social Security Administration (SSA) has the option to link that PIN to their newly-created FSA ID during registration. By linking to a “matched” PIN, the user will be able to immediately use the FSA ID. If an individual does not link to a “matched” PIN during the FSA ID registration process, they will have limited use of the FSA ID until the SSA confirms their personal identifiers; confirmation usually takes one to three days. This is similar to the “conditional PIN” that new PIN applicants received in the past, while waiting for the SSA match to be conducted. An FSA ID that does not yet have a successful SSA match may be used to sign and submit an original FAFSA, but the user will need to wait for a successful match before accessing StudentLoans.gov, NSLDS Student Access, and the TEACH Grant website.

It is recommended that a user link to their PIN so they may immediately use the FSA ID to perform important activities, such as signing electronic documents. If a user has forgotten their PIN, they should choose “Forgot My PIN” during the FSA ID registration process. If they successfully answer the challenge question they established when they applied for their PIN, the PIN information will be linked to the FSA ID, including carrying over a successful SSA match. If the user does not remember their PIN or PIN challenge question, they can still create an FSA ID.

In cases where an individual’s name has changed since they last created a PIN, he or she can still link that PIN to the FSA ID. The previous name will appear on their account as an historic identifier. However, the individual’s current name, date of birth, and Social Security number will still need to be sent to SSA for matching.

Note: On May 17, 2015 we resolved an issue that was caused when a user entered one or more additional spaces after the last typed letter— known as trailing spaces—in the last name field during FSA ID registration. Even if the user linked the new FSA ID account to their “matched” PIN during registration, this issue resulted in the FSA ID account appearing as if a match with the SSA was not conducted. This issue has now been resolved for new FSA ID account creation, as well as for users who have already created an FSA ID.

Unique E-mail Address on FSA ID Account

E-mail addresses associated with FSA ID accounts must be unique. An e-mail address may not be shared between FSA ID accounts, such as between a student and a parent.

Correcting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on FSA ID Account

A useful feature of the FSA ID is that a user may correct their PII after the FSA ID has been created, if any of the information, including the Social Security number, was entered incorrectly. Corrections to PII can be made from the “Edit My FSA ID” tab. Corrections can be made even if the SSA match results have not come back and whether or not the FSA ID e-mail address has been verified.

We highly recommend that a user who has created an FSA ID with incorrect information correct the information using the “Edit My FSA ID” tab, rather than create a new FSA ID. Since the e-mail address on each FSA ID account must be unique, the e-mail address used on an FSA ID account with incorrect information cannot be reused on another FSA ID account.

Note: If the SSA has already verified the user’s information, they will not be able to change their Social Security number. They can, however, make changes to their name. If changes are made to the name, the updated information will be sent back to the SSA for matching.

Verifying the FSA ID E-mail Address

After a user creates an FSA ID and adds an e-mail address to the account, a six-digit numeric code is e-mailed to the user. The user can then verify the e-mail address by entering the code into the “Secure Code” field on their FSA ID account. Once the e-mail address has been verified, it can be used in place of the username to log in to systems that require an FSA ID. Additionally, a verified e-mail address can be used to unlock an FSA ID, reset a password, or retrieve a forgotten username or password.

FSA ID e-mail verification is not required, however, to create an FSA ID or to use the FSA ID to log in to Federal Student Aid systems. We have heard from some institutions that the e-mail verification step may be difficult to complete while helping students and parents create their FSA ID, either due to the fact that the e-mailed code does not immediately arrive or because the student or parent has difficulty accessing his or her e-mail account. In these cases it may be best to advise the user to verify his or her e-mail address at a later time, after completing higher-priority activities such as filling out a FAFSA or signing a Master Promissory Note.

Supported Browsers

We have tested FSA ID registration and account maintenance on the Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android operating systems. The supported browsers for each operating system are as follows:

  • Windows 7, 8, and 8.1: Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE) 10 and 11, and Firefox

  • Mac OS 10.8 and 10.9: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

  • iOS: Chrome, Safari, and Opera Mini

  • Android: Chrome, Firefox, and Opera Mini

Additional Information for Adding Fsaid.ed.gov as a Trusted Domain

In our May 7, 2015 electronic announcement, we encouraged institutions to work with their Technology Support Organization to “whitelist” the fsaid.ed.gov domain. By adding fsaid.ed.gov to the list of trusted domain addresses used by the institution, the chances that FSA ID-related e-mail messages are blocked or identified as spam will be reduced.

We would like to thank the many institutions that have responded to this request, including following up with us regarding the specific IP addresses that are used by FSA ID. For institutions that may still require this information, the IP addresses are as follows:

  • 167.89.40.176

  • 167.89.40.99

  • 167.89.42.101

  • 167.89.42.104

  • 167.89.42.118

  • 167.89.42.120

  • 167.89.42.122

  • 167.89.42.128

  • 198.37.144.99

The e-mail address from which FSA ID notifications are sent is FSA-ID@ed.gov.

No Change to FSA User ID Process for FAAs

As a reminder, implementation of the FSA ID does not change the FSA User ID log-in process for financial aid professionals. The FSA User ID remains the credential with which financial aid professionals log in to any system that is behind Federal Student Aid's Access and Identity Management System (AIMS), including FAA Access to CPS Online, the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) Web site, and NSLDS Professional Access, among others.

A professional user with an FSA User ID who is also a student, parent, or borrower must create an FSA ID for personal use on student or borrower-based websites.

FSA ID Contact Information

Students, parents, and borrowers who have general questions about creating an FSA ID, or who are having difficulty logging in with their FSA ID, should contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). Web chat is also available from the FAFSA.gov “Help” page under “Contact Us.”

While the number of inquiries has been low relative to the number of successful FSA ID registrations and authentications, some of the inquiries have taken longer than predicted to resolve. As a result, customers have experienced longer-than-normal wait times to reach a FSAIC customer service representative. We are working to reduce this wait time and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

We appreciate the support of the financial aid community during the implementation of this important upgrade to the log-in process for our student- and borrower-based websites.

   

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