The new FAFSA will be available by December 31 — what families need to know about the college aid form
The new FAFSA will be available by December 31 — what families need to know about the college aid form


For many families, financial aid is essential when it comes to paying for college.

But college students should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to entry any help. And this 12 months, the FAFSA has been considerably delayed.

For the 2024-2025 faculty 12 months, a new, streamlined FAFSA form will be available on or earlier than Dec. 31, 2023, up to practically three months later than in earlier years. (The Education Department mentioned it plans to return to an Oct. 1 begin date subsequent 12 months.)

“The irony is they’re altering the FAFSA to make it less complicated and simpler however in doing that, you have created an issue,” mentioned Mary Morris, CEO of Virginia529, one in every of the largest 529 plans in the nation. For families making an attempt to navigate the course of, a new components and the delay are “intimidating and scary and annoying.”

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The FAFSA serves as the gateway to all federal aid cash, together with loans, work research and grants, that are the most fascinating sorts of help as a result of they sometimes don’t need to be repaid.

In bizarre years, highschool graduates miss out on billions in federal grants as a result of they do not fill out the FAFSA. 

Many families mistakenly assume they won’t qualify for monetary aid and do not even trouble to apply. Others say a prolonged and overly difficult software is a significant hurdle.

The plan to simplify the FAFSA has been years in the making. In 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was handed to streamline the course of. Those modifications are lastly going into impact.

Why it is essential to file the FAFSA early

Despite the delay, it is nonetheless advantageous for college students to file the FAFSA as quickly as they will, in accordance to Rick Castellano, a spokesperson for Sallie Mae.

The earlier families fill out the form, the higher their chances are high to obtain aid, since some monetary aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served foundation, or from applications with restricted funds.

It’s doable there will be technical points when the new form lastly turns into available on-line, notably if there’s a surge in visitors to the web site, Castellano mentioned. However, that should not forestall families from finishing the FAFSA in the days that comply with, he added.

“While there might be some hiccups alongside the method, college students and families ought to do what they need to do to file as quickly as doable.”

What’s modified with the new FAFSA

Not solely has the timing modified, however the simplified form now additionally makes use of a calculation referred to as the “Student Aid Index” to estimate how a lot a household can afford to pay.

Historically, many components, not simply income, go into how a lot aid college students obtain, together with the complete variety of individuals in the family and the variety of youngsters in college, in addition to different monetary commitments similar to a house fairness mortgage or little one help funds.

Now, the components will pull federal tax data instantly from the IRS and slims 108 questions down to lower than 50.

Going ahead, the Department of Education will not give families a break for having a number of youngsters in college at the identical time, successfully eliminating the “sibling low cost.”

“The elimination of the a number of pupil adjustment is one in every of the many tectonic modifications underneath FAFSA simplification that will take full impact starting with the 2024-2025 educational 12 months,” Kalman Chany, a monetary aid advisor and creator of The Princeton Review’s “Paying for College,” recently told CNBC

Up till now, “the a number of pupil adjustment has been the single most essential knowledge factor affecting one’s eligibility for federal pupil aid,” Chany mentioned.

At the identical time, the new FAFSA will elevate the household revenue threshold, making extra college students eligible for federal need-based aid.

More than half 1,000,000 further college students will qualify for a Pell Grant, a sort of aid available to low-income families, in accordance to increased schooling skilled Mark Kantrowitz. And of people who qualify, greater than 1.5 million will qualify for the most quantity.

Currently, the maximum Pell Grant award is $7,395.

Under the new system, extra college students will have entry to federal grants, however some — possible wealthier — college students will miss out on the sibling low cost, in accordance to Kantrowitz.

What college students can do now to prepare

For college students who really feel pressured by having to submit college purposes with out realizing how a lot the faculties will price them, the Federal Student Aid Estimator can present an early estimate of what your federal pupil aid might be after submitting the new form.

To facilitate the pupil aid calculations, “get your monetary home so as,” Virginia529′s Morris suggested. Students and families ought to have their tax types prepared and create a StudentAid.gov account together with a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, which is required to enter and entry your data on-line.

Then, comply with Federal Student Aid on social media for upcoming bulletins, together with an alert when the new FAFSA form is available to full.

This can be a great time to think about different sources for merit-based aid, Morris added, by looking web sites like Scholarships.com and the College Board.

In truth, there are greater than 1.7 million personal scholarships and fellowships available, typically funded by foundations, companies and different impartial organizations, with a complete worth of greater than $7.4 billion, in accordance to Kantrowitz.

Finally, there are many free resources to assist information families via the up to date FAFSA course of. “Know that there’s help on the market, and simply do not quit,” Morris mentioned. “It will be value it in the future.”

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