FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAFSA Completion Initiative is an initiative through which the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) is partnering with state student grant agencies to allow these agencies to provide secondary schools, school districts, and certain designated entities with limited, yet important, information on student progress in completing the FAFSA form. This limited information is referred to as FAFSA Filing Status Information. To participate, a state student grant agency must sign a SAIG agreement with the Department and enter into a data sharing agreement with a secondary school, school district, or a specific designated entity. The agency can then share only the specified FAFSA Filing Status Information with the secondary school, school district, or designated entity.

The FAFSA Completion Initiative builds and expands on the success of the Department’s FAFSA Completion Pilot Project, in which the Department partnered directly with selected secondary schools and school districts to share this limited information.

To accomplish the President’s goal of once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020, the United States must dramatically increase its high school graduation and college completion rates, especially among students from low-income families. Because the timely completion of a FAFSA form is an essential step for many families in obtaining financial aid to pursue a postsecondary education, the FAFSA Completion Initiative will enable state student grant agencies and their school and district partners to identify those students who have not filed a FAFSA form and better target counseling, filing help, and other resources to those students. Because FAFSA completion is essential for receiving Federal financial aid, identifying such students can promote college access and success by ensuring students, particularly low-income students, have access to financial aid to fund their education.

No. Participation is voluntary for state student grant agencies, schools, districts, and designated entities. However, the Secretary of Education encourages participation in the initiative in order to promote student access to financial aid that can help increase college enrollment and completion.

As of 2014, all state student grant agencies are able to execute a revised Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) Agreement with the Department. The revised SAIG agreement includes the requirements for the FAFSA Completion Initiative and, once executed, will provide the state student grant agency with the authority to share FAFSA Filing Status Information (in accordance with applicable laws and regulations) with secondary schools, districts, and designated entities under the SAIG parameters. Thus, to participate, state student grant agencies will execute a revised SAIG agreement with the Department. Nonparticipating state student grant agencies will execute the same SAIG, but will have no obligation to share the FAFSA Filing Status Information. Secondary schools, school districts, and designated entities may participate only under agreement with state student grant agencies.

Only defined FAFSA Filing Status Information may be shared under the FAFSA Completion Initiative and only under certain conditions, as identified in a question below. Specifically, the state student grant agency may only disclose: (1) the student’s last name; (2) the student’s first name and middle initial; (3) the student’s date of birth; (4) the student’s zip code (not full address); (5) if filed, the date the FAFSA form was submitted to the Department; (6) the date the Department processed the FAFSA form, if applicable; (7) a flag indicating the need for the FAFSA applicant to provide additional information, if applicable; and (8) a FAFSA completion status flag, as determined by the state student grant agency (i.e., FAFSA not submitted, FAFSA complete, or FAFSA incomplete).

A designated entity that can receive FAFSA Completion Information from a state student grant agency is a public or nonprofit entity that the Department has designated as eligible to receive FAFSA Filing Status Information. In order to be designated as eligible to receive FAFSA Filing Status Information, an entity must have an “established relationship” with the student, as defined in the SAIG. An established relationship exists for a designated entity when the student is enrolled in or has registered with or is receiving services from the designated entity in pursuit of postsecondary education.

No. State student grant agencies may only provide FAFSA Filing Status Information to participating schools, districts, and designated entities, and only when certain conditions are met. A state student grant agency may not provide FAFSA Filing Status Information to any other entity. In all instances, before sharing any FAFSA Filing Status Information, the state student grant agency must have a written data sharing agreement with a secondary school, school district, or designated entity.

No. The only information that may be shared under the FAFSA Completion Initiative is the limited FAFSA Filing Status Information as described in Question 5. State agencies cannot share students’ SSNs, student and parent financial information, or any other information from the FAFSA form.

A state student grant agency with a revised SAIG Agreement may not begin sharing FAFSA Filing Status Information until the agency has a written data sharing agreement with the school, district, or designated entity. The written agreement must include procedures for oversight by the state student grant agency; appropriate privacy and data security provisions; and assurances from the secondary school, school district, or designated entity that it will appropriately safeguard the information, that it will not redisclose the information, and that it will comply with applicable privacy laws, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

The revised SAIG agreement limits the use of FAFSA Filing Status Information to “authorized personnel.” In general, the SAIG agreement defines “authorized personnel” to include employees, volunteers, and authorized agents, such as contractors or other parties to whom the LEA, secondary school, or designated entity has outsourced any of its services or functions and who are under the “direct control” of the participating secondary school, school district, or designated entity with respect to the use and maintenance of the information. Any disclosure of FAFSA Filing Status Information to “authorized personnel” must comply with all applicable privacy laws, such as FERPA.

FAFSA Filing Status Information received by a participating secondary school, school district, or designated entity may not be redisclosed or otherwise shared with any other entity or individual other than the FAFSA applicant and, if the FAFSA applicant is under the age of 18, with his or her parents. However, the FAFSA Filing Status Information may be shared with another party with the FAFSA applicant’s consent or the consent of the FAFSA applicant’s parents if the FAFSA applicant is under the age of 18, or if such sharing is required by law and such use is consistent with all applicable privacy laws, including the privacy provisions of section 483(a)(3)(E) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1090(a)(3)(E) and FERPA, 20 U.S.C. 1232g.

*Question adopted from U.S. Department of Education

For more information on FAFSA, trending questions, and resources please visit https://fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm.

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