Can We Share FAFSA Filers With the Admissions Office So They Can Recruit Those Students?

Award Year: 2024-25 KA-36922 Helpfulness Rating 5,531 page views

This guidance is specific to the 2024-25 award year and later. For 2023-24* award year guidance see AskRegs Q&A, Can We Share FAFSA Filers With the Admissions Office So They Can Recruit Those Students?

It depends. According to guidance NASFAA has received from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), prior guidance will be changing effective with the 2024-25 award year due to changes under the FAFSA Simplification Act. As in the past, and as a general rule, the disclosure of FAFSA data with another office or individual depends entirely on the data being shared and how that individual or office intends to use that data.

ED interprets FAFSA filers as "FAFSA filing status information" from an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) as FAFSA data (not as FTI) because FAFSA data include: student’s first name; student’s last name; student’s date of birth; student’s ZIP Code; FAFSA submitted date (the date the FAFSA was submitted to ED); FAFSA processed date (the date ED processed the FAFSA); a Selected for Verification flag; and a FAFSA completion flag (e.g., FAFSA not submitted, FAFSA complete, or FAFSA incomplete).

FAFSA Data: The disclosure and use of FAFSA data, which includes FAFSA filing status information, are implicated under the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, as amended. Therefore, the further disclosure of FAFSA data to other internal offices (e.g., Admissions) from the financial aid office is permissible under the HEA for the application, award, and administration of federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs. For example, if a student elected to have their FAFSA sent to the institution, the institution’s admissions office then may use FAFSA filing status information to contact the individual about the application and admission process in the event the student has not applied for admission to the institution. The financial aid office may also use the individual’s FAFSA information provided on the FAFSA to communicate about the financial aid process at the institution, including but not limited to, proposed financial aid award information, verification requirements, and necessary steps to receive financial aid in a timely manner. However, FAFSA data may not be used to market to students or for recruitment efforts, but rather generally used to administer student financial aid effectively and efficiently. FAFSA data are further defined in AskRegs Q&A, What Is Considered FAFSA Data For Purposes Of Data Sharing?

Federal Tax Information (FTI): While not implicated in this use case, the disclosure and use of FTI, which includes income information ED received from the IRS via the FUTURE Act Direct Data Exchange (FA-DDX), are implicated under the HEA, and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). FTI may be disclosed and used by other internal offices, such as an admissions staff executing job duties and business functions related to the application, award, and administration of student aid programs, which might include discussing special circumstances due to a job loss that implicates FTI. Otherwise, the further redisclosure and use of FTI must be consistent 20 USC 1098h(c)(1) and (2), which states written consent is required if providing FTI and FAFSA data to an organization assisting the applicant in applying for and receiving federal, state, local, or tribal assistance. Otherwise, the disclosure of FTI for any other purpose is prohibited.

Additionally, the discussion of FTI and FAFSA data also requires written consent of the student to include an individual selected by the applicant to participate in discussions that is not employed by the institution and not carrying on job duties related to the application, award, and administration of student aid programs. The use of FTI for student marketing and recruitment is also prohibited as it is not considered under the application, award, and administration of federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs. FAFSA data no longer include FTI, which is defined in AskRegs Q&A, What Is Federal Tax Information (FTI)?

Additional Guidance: ED has promised additional guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter or Electronic Announcement and Questions and Answers webpage. When that guidance is released, we will update this Q&A.

See also the 2023 Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference session B010, Data Use and Considerations Under the FUTURE Act and FAFSA Simplification.

Making Determinations: NASFAA does not make data sharing determinations on behalf of institutions. If you need any assistance making such determinations, you should reach out directly to your school's legal counsel.

AskRegs Q&As represent NASFAA's understanding of regulatory and compliance issues. They are FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY. While NASFAA believes AskRegs Q&As are accurate and factual, they have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). If you should need written confirmation of AskRegs information for audit or program review purposes, please contact your ED School Participation Division. NASFAA shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein; nor for incidental or consequential damages resulting from the furnishing, performance, or use of this material.