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Avoiding Problems with Social Security Numbers on the FAFSA

Avoiding Problems with Social Security Numbers on the FAFSA


Social Security Numbers are prone to error, especially if a student does not have a copy of his or her Social Security card when they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Some common errors involving Social Security Numbers on the FAFSA include:

  • Digit transpositions, where adjacent digits are swapped
  • When parents complete the FAFSA on behalf of the student, even though this is not allowed, they sometimes swap the student’s Social Security Number with their own or with the Social Security Number of a sibling

Social Security Numbers and Undocumented Individuals

If a student’s parents are undocumented, they should use 000-00-0000 instead of a Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). A student who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is eligible for federal and state student aid, even if the student’s parents are undocumented.

Students who have work-only Social Security Numbers because of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy are not eligible for federal student aid. In some cases, they might be eligible for state aid. For example, California DACA students who are AB540 eligible should apply for state aid using the California Dream Act Application, not the FAFSA.

How to Fix Errors with Social Security Numbers

If the FAFSA was filed with the wrong Social Security Number, file a new FAFSA with the correct Social Security Number. Preserve a copy of the original confirmation page to demonstrate the original date the FAFSA was submitted.

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