FAFSA Tradeoff [...]

Security and access are often opposed goals. A recent change to the FAFSA demonstrates this.

[O]ne change — switching from a four-digit PIN for online access to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to a more standard and secure log-in identification and password — may be having the opposite effect. (Link)

The changes are in line (somewhat) with bank log in security and the like. But a host of problems can result. Here area few:

  • The process overall takes longer
  • Security questions can’t be changed easily
  • Email confirmations force you to stop the process just when you have momentum.
  • Sometimes the email confirmations get lost
  • “Students often use and subsequently lose access to their high school email addresses, and some high schools prohibit students from using personal email accounts on campus.”
  • Accounts lock after multiple failed attempts to log in and the help-line wait can be hours.

As usual, these barriers are not equally felt:

The problem, however, is that for low-income students, “Every additional barrier you erect between them and financial aid makes it more likely they will drop out of the process,” Kantrowitz said.

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