The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) typically opens on October 1, but this year families will have to wait until December. The form, which uses parents’ income and other information to determine a student’s need for financial aid, is being updated and simplified. However, this means that students and families will not be able to apply for aid for the 2024-25 school year until December 2023.
The Department of Education has been communicating with families who filed the FAFSA last year to inform them of the delay and will email them again once an exact date in December is announced.
The changes to the FAFSA aim to streamline the process, deliver more aid to students, and provide an enhanced experience when filling out the form. However, the change in schedule could raise concerns for some families regarding their student’s financial aid package.
There are multiple deadlines to keep track of when filing the FAFSA, including the federal deadline, state deadline, and institution’s deadline. So far, the Department of Education has not announced an extension of its deadline despite pushing back the opening date. It is important to apply as soon as possible, especially for priority deadlines set by institutions or states.
The new FAFSA still allows you to import your income information directly from the Internal Revenue Service, which can save time in the application process. Besides tax returns, you will need your Social Security number or alien registration number, bank statements, records of investments, and your federal student aid ID.
The changes to the FAFSA are primarily aimed at providing more aid to students by revising the calculation used to determine eligibility. Some families may see larger financial aid awards, while others may not experience a significant change. The new FAFSA replaces the expected family contribution (EFC) with the student aid index (SAI) and changes the formula used to calculate it.
The Department of Education is rolling out a revised financial aid estimator that will use the new SAI calculation and provide an estimate of your aid eligibility.
Overall, families should keep an eye on deadlines, be prepared with the necessary documents, and be aware that their aid eligibility may change or stay the same based on the FAFSA revisions.