New Changes to the Upcoming FAFSA 2024-2025
The new year is right around the corner, and for students, that means big changes to the FAFSA 2024-25 aid year! With college applications approaching, it's time to start thinking about how these new changes will impact your financial aid for the coming year. You’ll want to consider proactive steps to set yourself up for success with your application. At Bold.org, we know how busy this time of the year is, and that's why we are here to help you understand these new changes and guide you every step of the way!
In this Bold article, I’ll discuss the FAFSA, give you a better understanding of the FAFSA Simplification Act, introduce what's changing with the FAFSA, and show you how to prepare for the new changes. Remember, a better FAFSA means a better future for students that will offer families an improved application experience. The new FAFSA will be available by December 31, 2023, so there is no better time to prepare than now!
What Is FAFSA?
FAFSA is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form that students in the United States can apply for to determine federal aid eligibility for colleges or universities. The FAFSA is given by the U.S. Department of Education and is used to determine a student's financial need and the amounts of federal financial aid they may be eligible to receive. This aid can include, but is not limited to, federal Pell Grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and federal student loans.
Along with figuring out what type and how much aid students may qualify for, the FAFSA form uses other factors, like income, assets, and family size, to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the amount the student and their family are expected to contribute towards their child’s education costs.
It's important to know the FAFSA application is usually available to students every year on October 1st, but for the 2024-2025 year, it will be available by December 31, 2023. We suggest students complete as soon as they can to stay ahead of the game and know what they may qualify for.
Understanding the FAFSA Simplification Act
Now that you know what FAFSA is, let's talk about the FAFSA Simplification Act.
When the FAFSA Simplification Act was passed by Congress in 2020, its purpose was to create a streamlined application process for students and parents, making it a more comprehensive and easier tool to use. This included updates to the FAFSA form that reduce errors, remove barriers, and expand a student's eligibility for federal aid.
This act implemented these changes for the 2021-2022 and 2023-2024 award years, and with the new year approaching, FAFSA is preparing to release its newest changes for the upcoming 2024-2025 year, and we want you to know what the act means for you.
The FAFSA Simplification Act was created and passed into law in December 2020 to simplify the FAFSA process. The act includes several changes to make the FAFSA application more user-friendly and accessible to all independent and dependent students who need financial aid, including federal student aid. Some of the changes in the FAFSA Simplification Act for the 2024-2025 FAFSA include:
- The reduction of the amount of FAFSA questions and the elimination of complex sections. This simplifies the form, making it easier for parents and students to understand and use.
- The use of prior-prior year (PPY) income information. Though the act continues the use of PPY income data, the changes give more accurate income and tax information from two years prior to applying for financial aid.
- The simplification of federal student aid eligibility determination by removing certain questions related to drug convictions and selective service registration.
- And lastly, the automatic zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for certain low-income students makes it easier for them to access federal student aid and receive Pell Grants.
Again, this act was created to make the FAFSA process more straightforward for students and their families, as well as to make financial aid more accessible for students to get an education. However, it's important to note that some implementations of the FAFSA Simplification Act may vary, so it's best to get guidance from a professional like an academic advisor, counselor, or aid officer at the college or university you plan to attend. This way, you can receive the most accurate information for your academic journey.
Switching from Expected Family Contribution to Student Aid Index
Along with the changes for students and families, the FAFSA Simplification Act also requires that colleges and universities transition from the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the Student Aid Index (SAI) beginning in the 2024-2025 Award Year to determine eligibility.
A student's SAI is the number that determines each student’s eligibility for certain types of federal student aid, like federal Pell grants. An applicant’s SAI is determined using improved need-analysis formulas outlined in the Act. The most significant changes to these formulas include:
- Removal of the number of family members in college from the eligibility calculation.
- The possibility for an SAI to be a negative number, with a minimum SAI of -1,500 instead of zero.
- Elimination of alternate EFCs for enrollment for a period other than nine months.
- Elimination of the Auto-Zero calculations, which have been replaced with similar calculations.
I know this is a lot of information to take in, but at Bold.org, we strive to make sure you have the information you need.
What's Changing with the New FAFSA?
While the FAFSA Simplification Act was created to make the application for federal student aid programs and eligibility easier, the changes to the new FAFSA form will be that much easier, as well.
A Better FAFSA Form
The new changes to the FAFSA include its form. The new FAFSA form will improve the application process by redesigning how students and their families use it.
For example, applicants will now be able to securely transfer their federal tax information (FTI) directly from the IRS website, removing complex and confusing steps like connecting to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool each year.
This kind of change will streamline the process of submitting tax information, making it less tedious and allowing more time for applicants to focus on other parts of the application.
The new FAFSA form will also include any updates to student aid calculations. This will make Federal Pell Grants accessible to more students. A Pell Grant-eligible student will be linked to family size, which will determine the federal poverty level. These changes will help significantly expand access to federal student aid.
The 2024-25 Award Year FAFSA Changes
So, what exactly are the upcoming 2024-2025 award year changes? Now that I've gathered all of the information, I've simplified it for you!
- FAFSA Completion Date
- The 2024-2025 FAFSA will be available by December 31, 2023, but this is a temporary change. After this year, the FAFSA will continue to open on October 1st.
- Submit your 2024-2025 FAFSA by February 1, 2024, to receive your financial aid offer by March 2024.
- A Streamlined Application Process
- The new FAFSA will have fewer questions, improved requirements, and easier retrieval of tax information using a tool directly from the IRS instead of the previous IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
- Changes in Terms
- The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will now be known as the Student Aid Index (SAI).
- The new FAFSA also introduces the term contributor, which refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s FAFSA form. Being a contributor includes the student, spouse, biological or adopted parent, or the parent’s spouse. NOTE: Being a contributor does not mean being responsible for the student's college costs.
- Expanding Pell Grant Eligibility
- Approximately 610,000 more students from low-income backgrounds will receive Pell Grants.
- Federal Pell Grant eligibility will expand to more students and will link eligibility to family size and federal poverty level.
When Should I Submit the 2024-25 FAFSA?
The upcoming 2024-2025 FAFSA is set to be released by December 31, 2023, which means you are less than a couple of weeks away from knowing what you can receive through federal aid.
The FAFSA is a form that determines federal aid eligibility and can award federal student aid to those who are eligible, and while there isn't a race to the finish line, there is a large demand for aid. Students wait all year for the FAFSA to become available, so we suggest submitting your 2024-2025 FAFSA as soon as possible.
Quick Tip: it helps to know when the deadline is to submit the FAFSA. Knowing this date can motivate you to submit it sooner than expected, which is what I recommend. At Bold.org, we know everyone has a jam-packed schedule, but the sooner, the better! The 2024-2025 FAFSA federal application deadline is June 30, 2025. Be sure to check with your college or university as well as the FAFSA website.
How to Prepare for the New FAFSA
For most students, a new school year means a new journey and now a new FAFSA. So, while waiting for the new 2024-2025 FAFSA to be available at the end of December, here are some ways you can prepare for it:
- First things first, create an FSA ID on the Federal Student Aid website, and if you know anyone who needs assistance, don't hesitate to help them create their ID, too.
- Read all information available to you regarding FAFSA and the new changes. This part can be tedious, but the Federal Student Aid website provides detailed and concise information regarding financial aid, eligibility, and requirements that are useful to all students applying for aid for the new year.
- Research previous FAFSA forms and become familiar with their requirements. This can help you prepare for what you need when it’s time to fill out your form.
- Use the Federal Student Aid Estimator on the Federal Student Aid website and see your 2024-2025 federal student aid estimate. This tool estimates your Student Aid Index (SAI), which gives you an idea of what you may qualify for. It never hurts to stay ahead of the game.
Please Note: If you already have an FSA ID, there is no need to create a new one. Any existing FSA ID will continue to work and give you access to the website.
Other Financial Assistance
Aside from receiving federal student aid like federal Pell Grants, students should also look into different alternatives for financial support, like scholarships.
Here at Bold.org, we are committed to the fight against student debt by providing current and prospective students alternative resources when looking for financial aid through the help of scholarships and grants.
Though federal student aid is always extremely helpful, we want to make sure our students are aware of other means of financial assistance for the new 2024-2025 school year.
It's also important to note that you can also receive aid through donations and family contributions. So, take the time to do some research, scope out your options, and apply for the scholarships that best fit you!
Note: appealing your financial aid offer may reveal extra funding opportunities to aid in achieving your educational goals.
Frequently Asked Questions About the New Changes to the Upcoming FAFSA 2024-2025
When is the best time to submit your 2024-2025 FAFSA?
I know this time of year can be busy, but once the new FAFSA form becomes available at the end of December, I highly suggest submitting your FAFSA for the 2024-2025 year as early as possible. Not only will you be able to know what federal student aid programs you can be eligible for, but you'll also be able to prepare your finances around this knowledge. Staying ahead of the game is key to having a successful school year, and this includes financial aid.
How do the new FAFSA changes affect me?
The new changes to the FAFSA affect you by making receiving financial aid easier and more accessible to all students. By simplifying the FAFSA form, students and parents are able to fill it out without the complexity of hard-to-answer questions and limitations for aid depending on certain stipulations. These changes were created to make the application a streamlined process, as well as provide more financial aid to students in need.
Is FAFSA the only way I can receive financial aid?
Luckily for all students, FAFSA is not the only way to receive financial aid. With the abundance of scholarships available out there, we recommend doing some research and applying for scholarships that best fit you. You can also receive donations for aid and use your own family contribution that is feasible for your family.