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FAFSA Filing Issues and Tips

The 2024-2025 FAFSA experienced significant changes in an effort to simplify the application for federal financial aid. However, the rollout of these changes by Federal Student Aid has been difficult given the required timeframe for implementation and the sheer number of changes to the FAFSA and the formula that calculates the Student Aid Index (SAI). Below are resolutions we have found to issues students and parents have encountered preventing FAFSA submission and tips on FAFSA completion. For additional information on known issues, visit the Federal Student Aid 2024-2025 Issue Alerts page

Last Updated February 7, 2024

Providing responses to questions requiring your state

When completing the FAFSA, there are several times that the student and Parent Contributor are required to report a state. These questions include the student and parent state of legal residence, selection of high school, selection of colleges to receive your FAFSA data, and driver's license state. The state fields operate as a dropdown box. If you type out the entire name of your state "o-h-i-o," the field doesn't recognize that as the state of Ohio. Rather, you should type the first few letters of your state (i.e. o-h) and when the full name of your state appears below the box, select it to populate the full state name.

Selecting Your State
Inviting a parent to be a FAFSA contributor

When arriving at the screen to invite one or two parents to contribute to your FAFSA, it is important to type the parent first name, last name, date of birth and Social Security Number. Do not use any auto-complete browser functionality. Doing so can cause a "phantom space" to appear in the fields. This space will prevent a student from continuing to complete the FAFSA. To ensure no phantom spaces are in your fields, place your cursor at the end of the name field to determine if a space was added. If so, use the backspace key to delete the space, which will allow you to submit contributor data.

Auto-Complete Space
Inviting a second parent to be a FAFSA contributor

There are only a few scenarios that would require a student to invite more than one parent as a FAFSA contributor. If a student's parent is married and completed their 2022 taxes as married, filing jointly, only one parent is required to be invited as a contributor. If a married parent filed 2022 taxes with a different filing status (i.e. married, filing separately or the parent marital status has changed in 2023 or 2024), the student may need to invite two parent contributors. If you have questions, please reach out to our office for assistance.

Responding to the Parent Contributor invitation

Although parents may receive and read their Parent Contributor invitation email on their mobile device, it is important that they do not attempt to complete their portion of the FAFSA on their phone or tablet. Students and parents must use a laptop (or desktop computer) to ease FAFSA submission. Additionally, Federal Student Aid recommends students and parents use an updated version of Google Chrome when completing the FAFSA. 

Creating the FSA ID

Who needs an FSA ID?

  • Student
  • Student Spouse, if student is married
  • All Parent Contributors, even if only one parent will be needed to grant consent (For help determining who your required parent contributor is, please visit our Who Fills Out the FAFSA webpage.)

Students and Parent Contributors who have not previously created an FSA ID must do so at Please note that it takes 3-5 days for Federal Student Aid to complete the required Social Security database validation. The FSA ID must be validated before it can be fully utilized for FAFSA completion. This means that students and parents should apply for an FSA ID at least a week prior to completing the FAFSA. There are negative impacts when an FSA ID is used prior to completed validation. These include:

  • Inability to use the IRS Direct Data Exchange requiring manual tax entry and subsequent FAFSA updates and corrections
  • Issues preventing submission of Parent Contributor invitations
  • Problems logging back into the FAFSA if it is not submitted in one session

Some students and parents have experienced difficulty creating their FSA ID. This can occur when an applicant enters the address and cell phone number, then selects the “next” button. The page scrolls back to the top, rather than advancing. The applicant selected the name of their state instead of typing out the whole name. When the page scrolls to the top, the state field resets from the selected state to just the state abbreviation.

Delete the entire address. Leave the cell phone number and try to advance without an address. It appears it may allow you to create an FSA ID without an address. Validate the email and cell number are correct. Log into and edit the account information to add the address. Select the down caret next to the name after logging in, select settings and edit contact information.

When manual tax entry is required

There are several rare circumstances that require a student or parent to provide their tax information manually. This is generally related to tax filing status for 2022 that differs from their current marital status or individuals who filed taxes in a U.S. territory or foreign country. Below are some of those circumstances:

  • The contributor’s marital status has changed since filing their 2022 tax return, e.g., parents filed a 2022 joint tax return but are separated, divorced, or remarried when filing the FAFSA
  • The contributor filed taxes in a U.S. territory, commonwealth, or foreign country
  • The contributor indicates that they have not filed a 2022 tax return but plan to
  • The contributor is a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft
  • The contributor did not provide consent to transfer federal tax information (FTI)
  • The contributor's identifiers do not match IRS records
  • The IRS Direct Data Exchange (FA-DDX) was incomplete
  • The IRS was unable to confirm tax return data
  • IRS data is unavailable for an IRS system-related outage at the time the FAFSA is being completed
Spouse access and contributor requirements

Students will need to invite contributors to their FAFSA based on their dependency status and marital status. Review the scenarios below to determine who must be invited as a contributor:

  • A dependent student who has a parent contributor who is not currently married/remarried or not living with the student's other parent -
    • Invite only the parent contributor
  • A dependent student who has a parent contributor who is currently married and filed 2022 taxes as married, filing separately -
    • Invite the parent contributor
    • Invite the spouse of the parent contributor
  • A dependent student who has a parent contributor who is unmarried, but living with the student's other parent and did not file 2022 taxes as married, filing jointly -
    • Invite both parents as contributors
  • A dependent student who has a parent contributor who is currently married and filed 2022 taxes as married, filing jointly -
    • Invite only one parent contributor
      • The parent contributor will provide their spouse's information when completing the parent portion of the FAFSA.
  • An independent student who is unmarried -
    • No contributor is needed
  • An independent student who is married and filed 2022 taxes as married, filing jointly -
    • No contributor is needed
      • The student will provide their spouse's information when completing their FAFSA.
  • An independent student who is married and filed 2022 taxes with any status other than married, filing jointly -
    • Invite spouse as a contributor
Forgoing parent FAFSA information and applying only for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Most students should answer "No" to the questions asking if they would like to only apply for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Please be aware that providing parental information on the FAFSA does NOT obligate the parents to pay for college expenses; however, it does allow the student to be considered for all possible federal, state and institutional financial aid resources available.

In the rare circumstance that a student's parent refuses to provide parental data on the FAFSA, a student does have the option to submit the FAFSA, but will only qualify for an Unsubsidized Loan, which accrues interest and is limited to $5,500 for a freshman. This amount will not cover full-time tuition and fees at any Ohio University campus. Students who submit a FAFSA by answering yes to this question and not providing parental information will be required to sign an Unsubsidized Loan Only Authorization Form affirming that the parents refuse to provide information on the FAFSA and that they understand that students who complete this form will not be eligible for any need-based aid.  This option for obtaining financial aid should only be used as a last resort.

Unsubsidized Loan Only
Signature missing for parent or student returning to a saved FAFSA

When a student or parent returns to a FAFSA that was previously signed, they may find that the previously provided signature is now missing. When this occurs, the student or parent should re-sign the FAFSA, even if the student or parent is not making any changes to other information. It is recommended that the student and parent fully complete the FAFSA in one setting to prevent this error.

Spouse information not initially entered prevents FAFSA submission

If a married student or parent exits the 2024-25 FAFSA without entering the required spouse information, they will not be able to submit the FAFSA. When reentering the FAFSA, the student or parent will no longer be able to submit spouse information.

There is currently no resolution to this issue. To prevent this from occurring, gather all required information for the appropriate spouse prior to beginning the 2024-25 FAFSA. 

Contributors cannot access the FAFSA from the Roles page

Contributors invited to an existing 2024-25 FAFSA cannot enter the application from the Roles page. If a parent attempts to enter the FAFSA by selecting the Parent Role and entering the student's information, the parent may receive a error. The message states that the parent is "unauthorized to act on behalf of the student since they already have a 24-25 FAFSA form."

Parent and Spouse Contributors may access the FAFSA by using the Dashboard or My Activity. 

Student confirming address and contact information receive "Unknown Error" message

To resolve this error, students should edit their contact information and confirm their mailing address, including ZIP code, is correct. In some cases, the pre-loaded address information is incorrect or incomplete, causing the unknown error message. 

Confirm your information
Parent unable to access FAFSA when starting application on behalf of student

In some cases, a Parent Contributor who starts the 2024-25 FAFSA on behalf of a student is unable to continue beyond the Student Information page. They may receive an error message stating that there is already an application on file for the student. 

A parent who encounters this issue must log out of the FAFSA and request the student access or restart the 2024-25 FAFSA. If the student logs into and does not see the application under My Activity, the student should navigate to the FAFSA landing page, start a new form as a student, and invite the parent(s) to the application. This action will nullify the previous FAFSA initiated by the parent.

Delay in reviewing completed FAFSA information and making corrections

At this time, most students are unable to view completed FAFSA information and may see a message that indicates their FAFSA is "in process" or "under review". Federal Student Aid has indicated that FAFSA information may not be available to review or edit, by students or schools, until sometime in March. Additionally, schools will not receive or be able to access FAFSA information and results until March, either. At the time schools receive FAFSA data, students should be able to fully review their FAFSA information and make corrections, if needed. Below is a typical screenshot that informs students when their FAFSA was started and submitted.

Status Tracker

Please know that, while our office can't verify that your FAFSA has been successfully submitted at this point, we are here to support you if you have issues completing the FAFSA or concerns about meeting our priority date, which is currently April 15.