2018 FAFSA Bug Affects Single Parents

FAFSA Data Bugs Last year’s FAFSA was complicated by a concern with identity theft that shut down the automated IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). THe 2018 FAFSA has a bug that affects single parents. This is a new error that has been discovered in the FAFSA 2018 – 19 form.  The FAFSA became available on October 1.  The FAFSA Bug for 2018 – 19 affects single parent filers and is currently a problem.  This would include parents who are divorced, separated, never married or widowed.

In the 2018-19 FAFSA, the father or mother question was used by mistake. Since there is not a second parent the question should not have appeared.  In the 2014-15 FAFSA, the FAFSA form went gender-neutral due to a lawsuit.  The references in the FAFSA to parents should be Parent 1 and Parent 2.

The problem occurs when the person is trying to use the DRT system and the mother is selected.  Under gender-neutral rules, you should select the first parent since it should be titled Parent 1 and not Father.  We are awaiting verification from the Department of Education.  The system is processing the mother as the parent 2, which does not exist in this case.  It will not match the IRS system and FAFSA system will continue to process.

For single parent FAFSA filers, I would submit the FAFSA manually and not use the DRT system.  We will keep you informed, once we have more information or the DOE corrects the problem.

Our FAFSA Process Recommendation 

Listed below is our recommendation for First Time Filing Students:

  • Establish the FSA ID for both the student and a parent
  • Go to the FAFSA site ( )
  • Create a New FAFSA
  • Use Student FSA ID to start process
  • Complete FAFSA manually using 2016 Tax information and current asset information
  • Do Not Use DRT for Initial Submission do it manually
    • This may require more work
    • It will allow for an initial estimate of the EFC before the DRT is turned on
    • Use EFC PLUS Answer Key to simplify FAFSA mapping
  • Sign and Submission FAFSA using FSA ID
  • Print out SAR since it will have Manual EFC number
  • Submit FAFSA using DRT at some future date (2 options)
    • Shortly after the manual FAFSA is processed OR
    • Once you have committed to a specific college