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What Do You Do If Your Application for a FAFSA PIN is Rejected?

What Do You Do If Your Application for a FAFSA PIN is Rejected?

Expert financial aid answers to all of your questions.

Mark Kantrowitz

October 23, 2011

If you get an email message that says “Your request for a Federal Student Aid PIN cannot be processed because the Social Security Number (SSN), name, or date of birth that you provided on your PIN application does not match your information on file at the Social Security Administration (SSA)… If you are sure that the SSN, name, and date of birth used to apply for the PIN are correct, you must contact the SSA to resolve any problems with their records.” What should you do? — Erika B.

The Federal Student Aid PIN is used to sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) electronically, correct errors on the Student Aid Report (SAR), review the student’s financial aid history at the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), access entrance and exit counseling for the Direct Loan program and sign electronic promissory notes for the Direct Loan program.

A PIN may be obtained at using the student’s Social Security Number, name and date of birth. This information is compared with Social Security Administration (SSA) records and must be an exact match, per section 484(p) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the regulations at 34 CFR 668.32(i) and 34 CFR 668.36. The data match typically takes 1-3 days. If there is a mismatch, the application for a PIN will be rejected.

A mismatch can occur because of an error in the information the student supplied in the PIN application or because of an error in the Social Security Administration database.

Double check to make sure your name, Social Security Number and date of birth are an exact match for the information on your Social Security card.

Verify that there aren’t any typos in the Social Security Number, such as a digit transposition or substitution. Also double check that the student is submitting his or her Social Security Number, not the Social Security Number of a parent or sibling.

The name on the PIN application must match the student’s full legal name as it appears on the student’s Social Security card. Do not use a nickname, altered spelling or any other name. Use the full name, not initials. (For example, a student whose legal name is Kristina Carol must submit the PIN application with her full legal name, not K.C. or Casey.) Sometimes students don’t realize that their legal name is different from the name they’ve been using, so it is best to retrieve the Social Security card to verify the spelling of the name. If a student has changed her name because of marriage or divorce, but has not yet updated her name with the Social Security Administration, she will need to either update her name with Social Security Administration or file the FAFSA with her legal name. Unless and until you change your name with the Social Security Administration, you have to use that name to obtain a PIN and complete the FAFSA.

Verify that the student’s date of birth is entered correctly. Common errors include submitting the current date instead of the birth date or the current year instead of the birth year. Sometimes students submit the date with month and day swapped.

The PIN application will be rejected if the Social Security Number record includes a date of death. This problem will need to be corrected with the Social Security Administration.

The PIN application will also be rejected if some information is missing, such as the student’s last name or date of birth.

Fixing Social Security Number Mismatches

Resubmitting the PIN application with the correct Social Security Number, legal name and date of birth will address the most common errors.

If all of the information is an exact match, the student will need to contact the Social Security Administration to find out why the student’s information failed the match. Sometimes this is caused by an error in the database (e.g., wrong date of birth) and sometimes because of identity theft.

If the problem is due to an error in the Social Security Administration’s database, the student will need to visit a local or regional office of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to correct the problem. Call 1-800-772-1213 or visit to find the local Social Security Administration office. The US Department of Education cannot correct errors in Social Security Administration records. The Social Security Administration database must be updated or the PIN application will continue to be rejected.

The PIN application can also be rejected if the Social Security Number is already in use. If a FAFSA involves the same Social Security Number and the same first two letters of the last name as another student, it is assumed to be a duplicate application. If the Social Security Number is already in use by another student, but you are the correct owner of the Social Security Number, you will need to obtain a correction application by calling the US Department of Education at 1-319-665-7101.

If you filed the FAFSA with an incorrect Social Security Number, you will need to file a new FAFSA using the correct Social Security Number. The college will not be able to disburse financial aid if the Social Security Number does not pass a data match with the Social Security Administration.

Changes this year allow for the ssignment and use of a permanent pseudo Social Security number from any previous application cycle to help Pacific Islander applicants apply easily each year for Pacific Islander applicants. There is also now an easier, more user-intuitive login for applicants from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Palau.


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