You may have heard of the Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) in reference to the FAFSA, but you may find yourself wondering: what exactly is it?

The FSA ID is a username and password each student needs in order to: fill out and submit a FAFSA, sign any federal loan agreement (MPN), complete entrance and exit counseling for any federal loans, and access his or her federal student aid account online.

Parents will also need their own FSA ID to sign a FAFSA for a student that is considered dependent (most undergraduates are considered dependent students).

Many families are not aware there is a federal student account available online with the NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System). The NSLDS account keeps track of the type of federal loans and grants received, the amounts and dates of disbursement, and even the name and contact information of the federal lender-partner (the company used for repayment of student loans).

The U.S. Department of Education maintains this online account as information is received from a student’s college(s), lenders, and Direct Loan program. The account can be accessed at any time, from the first time a student receives a disbursement of a federal loan until those loans have been repaid.

For most students, the loan disbursement and repayment process ranges from 14-25 years (!), so, it is important to keep the FSA ID handy and updated. FSA ID passwords must be updated at least once every 18 months. It can be a good idea to update the password more frequently, especially if you feel it has been compromised for any reason.

Although students do not need an FSA ID until they complete their first FAFSA, it is best to set one up as soon as possible by visiting: FSAID.ED.GOV.

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