The 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act is great news for scholarship providers, making student FAFSA information more accessible. Learn more about the legislation and how your organization can stay in compliance with the new federal regulations.
A clear picture of a student’s financial status is an essential piece of scholarship awarding decisions ‒ especially for need-based scholarships. For consistency and accuracy, this information is drawn from a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submission.
However, for private foundations, community foundations, and public charities, collecting FAFSA-submitted data from colleges and universities (even with the consent of the student and parent) has been difficult. In 2018, temporary legislation addressed this oversight. And now, as part of the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress made the temporary legislation permanent.
While the Act makes it clear that all scholarship providers may request this information, thus removing barriers, it also puts several safeguards in place to protect student and parent data. Here’s what you need to know.
What Scholarship Providers Can Request
You may request:
FAFSA Data - Including the Student Aid Report (SAR) data based on a FAFSA submission and tax return information with respect to the applicant
Financial Aid Information - Financial aid award letters and notifications, grants, scholarships, other awards, student employment, loans, disbursements, and eligibility
Student Account Information - Bills, statements, charges, credits, balances, payments, past due amounts, collection activity
Education Information - Grades, courses, credits, GPA, registration, student ID number, academic progress, enrollment status, attendance, communications with advisors and other college staff deemed relevant for the administration of my scholarship
FAFSA Data Usage Limitations
FAFSA information should only be used for specific, allowable purposes. The legislation defines allowable purposes as assessing an applicant’s eligibility and administering an award. This must be clearly explained on the consent form.
How to Structure the Consent Form
Your consent form must be in a separate document from the scholarship application. Be sure to include:
How the information will be used (assessing eligibility and administering an award)
The applicant’s signature
The date it was signed
The parent’s signature and date (if the student is under 18)
Your organization’s name as the entity seeking FAFSA information
Assurance that the information will not be shared by your organization without the applicant’s consent