ACT NOW and get the information you need when you need it.
The FAFSA can be overwhelming, no doubt. And, it can feel like a lot is riding on it. Plus, on top of the already confusing process, this year, they announced big changes to the form and these changes delayed the application process. Don’t worry, we have you covered.
In the long run, these changes make completing a FAFSA faster and easier, whether you’re filing for the first time or applying for ongoing aid. What are those changes and how will they help? Here are 7 of the most impactful changes you will see:
1. The FAFSA will be delayed this year. For the 2024-25 year only, the FAFSA won’t be available until sometime in December, with a deadline of December 31, 2023. (It’s usually available in October.) It’s important you complete the FAFSA as soon as you can!
2. You can get your FSA ID now! In order to complete the FAFSA, you and at least one of your parents will need to create an account on the studentaid.gov website. If your parent(s) already has an account, they can check to make sure their log-in is working. Do this right away so you’re ready when the FAFSA is released!
3. The FAFSA will be much shorter. The simplified form is only about 30 questions – down from about 100! And the answers to several questions will be populated automatically using your and your parents’ federal tax data.
4. More students will be eligible for Pell Grants. A Federal Pell Grant is based on need and is typically only eligible to students who are getting an undergraduate degree and who do not have any other undergrad degree. Eligibility will mostly be based on family income and household size, and it will be easier to know if you qualify (and in some cases, for how much) up front. Pell grants are different than loans in that they do not need to be paid back.
5. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is now the Student Aid Index (SAI). The EFC stands for expected family income and is the amount of money the government believes your household can contribute to your education. Most financial aid packages are determined based on this EFC. The SAI is your eligibility number that is used to determine how much federal student aid you would receive if you attended the school. The SAI will be calculated differently than the EFC was, but it serves the same purpose: determining your financial need by subtracting it from the college’s Cost of Attendance. The SAI is calculated based on the contribution made by your parents and your student contribution. The calculation is meant to take your total financial resources and then subtract out the minimum amount of money your family needs for living expenses each year.
6. You very likely don’t need your tax forms to file the FAFSA. For most students, a new streamlined process will import your federal tax info directly from the IRS.
7. You’ll be able to estimate your federal financial aid award and your SAI. The English and Spanish versions of the new FAFSA have a tool that gives you an early estimate of your SAI and federal financial aid. More information is becoming available week by week! Check out studentaid.gov for the latest. We’re here to help you navigate these changes and in fact, we have our FAFSA FRENZY event coming up on January 18, 2024 so make sure you enroll for that event!