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Every year, nearly 18 million students fill out a FAFSA with the hopes of receiving as much assistance as possible with paying for college. For the 2024-25 academic year, students will be filling out a different application and facing a delay from the typical October 1 release date to December 31. Students will still be able to submit the application until June 30.
As far as the students that will be required to fill out the CSS profile, October 1, 2023 remained as the date of release.
What is the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is the application that the government uses to determine a prospective student’s eligibility for Federal financial aid as well as subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
Once the information is processed the student’s Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) is sent to the college or colleges of the students’ choice, at which point those schools use the information to determine their own financial aid package. Once all determinations are made, the Federal and school package is released to the student.
Why the Changes?
The recent changes to the FAFSA are a result of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that enacted the law called the FAFSA Simplification Act. The goal of the act is to make things easier for applicants by automatically connecting the families’ tax information to the application.
There are several key changes to this new program. Here’s what you can expect.
7 Key Changes
The Number of Questions Reduced
The new FAFSA format will contain significantly fewer questions. The maximum number of questions that will be required to answer were reduced from 108 to 46. Depending on the student’s circumstances, some students may only need to answer as few as 18.
Expected Family Contribution Changed
In the past, the information provided on the FAFSA determined what was called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which was used to calculate students’ expected financial need for college. Now, the EFC will be replaced with the term “Student Aid Index” (SAI).
Much like the EFC, the SIA will also be used to determine Federal and each school’s financial aid package. In most cases, the SIA will get subtracted from the cost of the school to determine aid amounts. With that said, many students actually pay more than their SIA number as each school processes this information in their own way.
More Languages Offered
The application will be available in more languages. It will be offered in the 11 most common languages spoken in the US, making it more accessible and easier for more students to fill out.
In order to fill out the FAFSA, all contributors will need an FSA IDs, which is the studentaid.gov username and password. In the past, only the student and one parent needed to have one.
There is up to a 3 day turnaround from when you apply for your FSA ID and when you receive it. An application cannot be started until all of the contributors receive them.
Because of this turnaround time, it is advised that contributors apply early enough to receive their ID so they can apply as soon as the FAFSA is released.
Pell Grant Expansion
The Federal program will also expand its need-based Pell Grant program to more students.
With the new FAFSA formula, 610,000 additional students from low-income backgrounds will be eligible for Pell Grants who wouldn’t have been under the previous form. Additionally, 1.5 million students will be newly eligible for the maximum Pell award: $7,395 per year.
List More Schools
With the old FAFSA, students could list up to 10 schools that they requested the information be sent. Now, prospective students will be able to list up to 20 schools.
Sibling Discount Removed
Households will no longer receive a break for having multiple children in college at the same time.
Tax Information Imported
In the past, the prospective student would have to dig up tax returns to fill out the FAFSA. Now, the IRS will automatically upload the appropriate tax information from their database. This directly affects the number of questions on the application, making it much more palpable to fill out.
Begin your journey of mastering the college admissions process with Bautis Financial. Whether you’re a parent or guardian, student or school counselor, book a free consultation to discuss how our financial advisors can be a college planning resource.