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Who is Qualified to Help with Your FAFSA?

I often get inquiries from people looking for employment with Do My FAFSA.  About a year ago, I received a message from a job seeker.  We will call this person Holden.  In an email, Holden writes: 

I am a FAFSA expert.  I am looking for an opportunity to work with you.  Please contact me if such an opportunity exists in your company.  – Holden

I replied to Holden, with a simple question: 

Hi Holden!  What makes you an expert?

Holden responded a couple of days later.  He kindly told me that a few years ago, he worked for a company as something called a FAFSA Filler.  This company is no longer in business, but apparently, they trained Holden to help people set up usernames and passwords and fill out FAFSAs.  Additionally, Holden was back in school, wrapping up his junior year as a half-time student at a very good college.  He receives financial aid and is familiar with his school’s financial aid process as a student.  Later, I found out that Holden had no experience at all working on a college campus, let alone as a financial aid professional.  


To the average person, it may seem that Holden is qualified to fill out a FAFSA for a customer.  And you might be surprised to learn that I informed Holden that he was simply not going to be able to help people with FAFSAs in I way that a felt was acceptable.  Let me explain.  Every time a FAFSA is submitted, it generates something called an Institutional Student Information Record or ISIR for short.  The ISIR is sent to all the schools that are listed on a FAFSA and is used primarily by financial aid officers and advisors.  It is essentially the cornerstone blueprint of what will become a financial aid package for a student.  It shows much more than a student’s eligibility and personal information.  It will also tell us if a particular FAFSA has been flagged, selected for verification or has contradicting information.  These are all issues that must be properly resolved by a financial aid office before aid can be brought in for the student.  ISIRs can be complicated and require a certain level of training, expertise and competence in order to fully understand.      


Only financial aid professionals are familiar with ISIRs.  If you are going to have someone help you with your FAFSA, I highly recommend that it be someone who fully understands the ISIR.  However, if that someone has never worked as a financial aid professional at an accredited institution of higher learning, then there is no way they will even know what an ISIR is.  This includes high school teachers, guidance counselors, principals, coaches, college admissions counselors, deans and professors.  It also includes Holden.  


At Do My FAFSA, all our preparers have worked a minimum of two years on the front lines of an accredited college’s financial aid office and have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.  We know exactly what a financial aid office is looking for when they pull up a student’s ISIR.  Our business only runs smooth if our clients also have smooth interaction with their respective financial aid office!

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