Using the FAFSA Mobile App
By Joe Messinger, CFP®
September 25, 2020
Every fall, we spend some time talking about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. In 2018, applicants had a new way to apply–via their smartphones! The hope is that the FAFSA mobile app called myStudentAid will make the FAFSA more accessible to students who don’t have a desktop or laptop and who are more comfortable using their phones. The students who needed financial support the most were the ones that the US Department of Education hoped would take advantage of this new method of filing; however, we will have to wait and see if that happens.
New for 2020/21
“To promote a fully integrated user experience, fafsa.gov has been synchronized with the myFAFSA component of the myStudentAid mobile app, allowing applicants and parents to seamlessly transition from one application source to the other.” The app allows parents and students to start, complete, and submit new or renewal applications. You can start online and finish on the app and vice versa. If you downloaded the app prior to October 1, you may need to download an update after the new application comes out on October 1, 2020.
As with any app, visit the Apple App Store or Google Play. Search for “FAFSA” and install the myStudentAid app. Students and parents can log in separately with an FSA ID. If an FSA ID needs to be created, you’ll be directed to the outside website. Managing an existing FSA ID can be done in the app.
Per the Studentaid.ed.gov website, the app experience is customized based on whether you are a student or a parent. The app will provide guidance on the questions which will appear one at a time on the phone. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will be available in both the app and website versions. Click here to watch a quick video about the app.
Is it secure? The government says it is with the same protections available via the desktop version on Fafsa.ed.gov.
Other things the mobile app can do.
One of the really neat options is myChecklist. Applicants can use the checklists to find out more about the next steps in the process. Sorting choices are:
- I am considering college.
- I am applying for aid.
- I am signing my Promise to Repay (MPN).
- I am in college.
- I am repaying my loans.
Links in the checklists will take you to applicable web pages with more info. myFederalLoans will take you to the web site where you can view your loan history. myCollegeScorecard takes you to the government’s CollegeScorecard website to compare colleges based on a wide variety of detail. While these features are merely taking the user to an outside web page accessible to all, it is handy to have them all in one place in the mobile app.
What’s really important?
The really important thing is that each college student fills it out! Financial aid is first come, first served. Millions of potential aid goes uncollected each year. Whether you use the mobile app or the “old fashioned” FAFSA webpage, just get it done.
Originally published 9/2019