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Partial FAFSA fix lets students from immigrant families apply for financial aid

Partial FAFSA fix lets students from immigrant families apply for financial aid


By Kalyn Belsha and Erica Meltzer
February 20, 2024
Students whose parents lack a Social Security number can finally fill out federal financial aid forms after the Biden administration announced a workaround Tuesday for one of the most glaring problems with what was supposed to be a simpler, easier form.
U.S. Department of Education officials say these students can leave their parent or spouse’s Social Security number blank for now, and manually enter the person’s income and tax information. The department provided details about the workaround to Chalkbeat, and plans to post them online Wednesday.
Chalkbeat first reported in January that the Social Security glitch was preventing potentially tens of thousands of eligible U.S. citizen students from applying for financial aid.
The workaround is meant to help students meet fast-approaching deadlines for certain state, college, or scholarship applications. The department promised a permanent fix is coming next month. It is also urging students who don’t have an urgent submission deadline to wait until then. Those who use the workaround will need to take additional steps in March to fully submit their application.
This puts significant pressure on school counselors and college access organizations to guide families through the process on a compressed timeline.
The Better FAFSA, as the new version of the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid is known, was supposed to make it easier for students to apply for aid for college. While more than 4 million students have completed the form successfully, the rollout has been plagued by glitches and delays. Far fewer students have completed the form than in previous years, and frustration and anxiety is mounting among parents, counselors, and college administrators.
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