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Millions of students have received help through the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) program to help pay for their college education. But with a goal of providing financial assistance to more students, the FAFSA will be changing in 2024-2025. Here is an overview of the FAFSA changes that you should know about:

A Later Application Start Date
Previously, you could start filling out a FAFSA application in October for the following academic year. Now, for the 2024-2025 academic year, the FAFSA will be opening in December 2023. However, this change is just temporary and will likely be moving back to an October start date in 2024.

Pro tip: Don’t delay filing your FAFSA application. An earlier application can increase your chances for funding.

Pell Grant Qualifications
If you are a student below the poverty threshold, there’s a chance you could automatically qualify for the maximum Pell Grant. Pell Grants is a type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Note: these grants are only awarded to those less than or equal to the poverty threshold.

New Calculations to Determine Aid
One of the biggest changes to the FAFSA is the methodology in which aid is calculated. Now, the new Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the expected family contribution metrics. The new equation is as follows: 

Cost of Attendance — Student Aid Index — Other Financial Assistance = Financial Need

  • Using the SAI method will consider both income and assets of the student applying as well as others who are contributing financially to their household. On the application, fewer questions will be asked as most financial information will be pulled directly from IRS data. This cuts the amount of questions on the FAFSA from over 100 questions to less than 50 – saving you a ton of time! Note: You’ll need to consent to transferring your IRS information to your FAFSA application. A FAFSA notification will be sent to you requesting your consent for the transfer.
  • Unfortunately, this new equation will no longer take into account the amount of family members attending college. Which means there’s a chance families with multiple college students could receive less financial support for the 2024-2025 academic year.
  • Your SAI can be a minimum of -$1,500 (a contribution below zero). The old methodology allowed a minimum estimated family contribution of zero.
  • Students who are dependent on divorced or separated parents will now need to report the income of the parent who provides the most financial support, not the parent they live with for most of the school year.
  • Not all income is considered with the calculation. You will not be required to list some untaxed income within your FAFSA application.

Proper FSA Identification
Everyone involved in the application – spouses, parents, or step-parents – must create an individual FSA ID and password. This FSA ID’s purpose is for security reasons and acts as a digital signature for the FAFSA application. You can create your FSA ID at StudentAid.gov website

More School Options
Amongst the other changes to the FAFSA, you can now list up to 20 colleges on your online FAFSA application. Note that while using the PDF versions of the FAFSA, you’ll only be able to list 10 schools.

Ultimately, the goal of the FAFSA application redesign is to shorten the amount of time it takes to fill out the application but preparing for the application process is always a wise choice. To prepare for your FAFSA application, locate your social security card, set up your FSA ID, and determine your dependency status. You can visit the StudentAid.gov website to help answer any additional questions you may have about the FAFSA. 

For more helpful resources on college preparation and financial aid and funding, visit our blog.