Student Name and Date of Birth on the FAFSA

on February 22, 2017

How can there possibly be errors in the student’s name or date of birth on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? It just doesn’t seem possible that a student won’t know his or her own name. But, every year, many students fail a database match with the Social Security Administration (SSA) due to discrepancies in their name and date of birth.


The student’s name, Social Security Number and date of birth must match SSA records. The name must be provided exactly as it appears on the student’s Social Security card. A database mismatch can cause a student’s or parent’s FSA ID to be locked. The database match can occur up to three days after the FSA ID is created, even though the FSA ID can be used to complete the FAFSA immediately.


Errors Involving the Student’s Name


Some of the more common errors involving the student’s name include:

  • Some students substitute a nickname for their legal name
  • Some students use their middle name instead of their first name or swap their first and middle names
  • Some students omit their middle initial on the FAFSA
  • Accidentally doubled letters and numbers are among the common errors
  • Accents and apostrophes, as well as very short names (e.g., just one letter), can sometimes cause problems
  • Sometimes people fail to update the SSA with their new name after a change in their marital status
  • FAFSA on the Web asks for the student’s last name first and first name last, which can lead to students accidentally swapping their first and last names on the form.

It can take the SSA up to a few weeks to update its records, so it is best to file the FAFSA based on the SSA’s current records, and update the SSA later. For example, if a student got married but didn’t update their name with the SSA, they may need to file the FAFSA with their maiden name. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, to change your name with the SSA. SSA can be contacted at or 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).


Errors Involving the Student’s Date of Birth


There also are occasional errors in the student’s date of birth:

  • Sometimes students misremember the year they were born
  • Digit transpositions and shifts also can occur
  • Sometimes students swap the month and day, especially students who have lived outside the U.S. Some countries list dates in the order DD/MM/YYYY instead of MM/DD/YYYY

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