The FAFSA is getting simplified!
The FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form completed by current and prospective college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for financial aid.
For most people the application is a dreaded process; applicants have been voicing their concerns for years, saying that the process can be complex and overwhelming, and a deterrent for many.
Those concerns led to a revamp of the FAFSA. The recent changes are a result of the FAFSA Simplification Act, also known as Better FAFSA, and are meant to streamline the application.
The changes will be effective for the 2024-2025 school year. Students who are planning to attend college then need to be aware of these changes because they need to apply for the FAFSA in 2023.
The FAFSA is usually open from October 1 to March 2, but in 2023 the application will not open until sometime in December, the exact date has not been announced. Because of this delay, the state priority deadline to file the FAFSA has also been moved, from March to April 2, 2024. This includes private schools in California. But beware, the original October 1 deadline will be back for the next application cycle.
The new application was simplified to allow more students and families to complete the form on their own.
The original FAFSA application had 108 questions, the Better FAFSA will only have 36 questions, and it is believed that they will be easier to understand.
Also, gone are the days of digging up your tax returns to fill out the FAFSA, now the federal tax information to calculate a student’s eligibility for student aid will be automatically populated by the IRS.
For years FAFSA has been using the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to determine how much a student can qualify for, but beginning 2024-2025 award year, FAFSA will transition to the Student Aid Index (SAI).
The EFC estimated the amount the student and his/her family could pay per year. The number gave schools and federal aid administrators an idea of how much financial support to offer.
The SAI will serve the same purpose but uses a different formula. An important change is that the SAI will not include the number of family members in college as part of the calculation. The elimination of the “sibling discount” will impact students with siblings in college, especially those whose parents make between $60,000 and $100,000.
Another considerable change here is that the SAI can be a negative number, with a minimum of -1,500 instead of zero (EFC). This means that students with larger financial needs now have a greater chance to receive more aid.
For more information visit: FAFSA Simplification Act Changes for Implementation in 2024-25 | Knowledge Center
For FAQs about the FAFSA visit: FAFSA Simplification Questions and Answers (ed.gov)
Source: kqed, usatoday, cnbc