Simplified FAFSA application to launch in December

Published 12:16 am Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Every college student and parents of college students knows how much of a nightmare it can be to fill out a FAFSA application. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and determines a student’s eligibility for college-related financial assistance. The paper version of the FAFSA has over 100 questions, and the online version requires an hour or more to fill out due to the information needed to complete the form.

Fortunately, in December, a new streamlined FAFSA application is expected to go live for the 2024-2025 academic year. Students and families can still submit the 2023-2024 FAFSA until June 30, 2024.

Changes to the FAFSA include a shorter form, simplified questions, and data that is automatically filled in by the IRS. These changes come under the FAFSA Simplification Act that passed on Dec. 27, 2020 and are part of a major overhaul of federal student aid.

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According to www.studentaid.gov, some significant changes to the FAFSA include replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI), expanding access to Pell Grants, and streamlining the form. The SAI will work just like the EFC did and will calculate financial aid based on a student’s needs. Needs will be calculated by subtracting the SAI from the cost of attendance.

Access to Pell Grants will be expanded to more students. Maximum grants will be awarded based on adjusted gross income (AGI), poverty guidelines, and family size. If students don’t qualify for the maximum grant, they might still receive funding if their SAI is less than the grant maximum. If SAI is larger than the Pell Grant, students may receive a minimum grant award based on one of three requirements previously listed.

The extension also includes students who were unable to complete their degrees due school closures or discharged loans, and restores eligibility to incarcerated students.

Streamlining to the form will include fewer questions and requirements, automatic data input from the IRS rather than the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, and questions regarding Selective Service registration and drug convictions will be removed.

Other expected enhancements include the addition of at least 11 new languages, clarity on when to include personal or parental assets, and more factors will be added to adjust the cost of attendance.