Did you know that there are upcoming changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA? You can expect to see a shorter form, more eligibility, and the removal of the EFC. Some minor changes were seen in the latest and current applications, but the major changes will be seen by the 2024 to the 2025 award year.
What Were the Minor Changes to the FAFSA?
For the 2022 – 2023 award year forms, you’ll definitely notice some changes compared to years previous.
- The form has been updated to fit the rest of the website in terms of look, feel, and visuals.
- You can select a specific role (preparer, student, or parent) before you start the form.
- Help topics have been updated
- Drug convictions will no longer affect eligibility for federal student aid.
- If you do have a drug conviction, you will be asked to complete a worksheet that you should complete as accurately and honestly as possible.
- Selective Service registration will no longer affect a student’s eligibility for aid.
What Are the Upcoming Major Changes to the FAFSA?
There are three major changes you need to be aware of in the coming years:
Fewer Questions on the FAFSA Form
Previous FAFSA forms have all had over 100 questions! In the future, though, there will only be around 36 questions. The form has been simplified as well – it will be easier than ever to import parents’ tax information, for example. And some students may not be asked about their own assets going forward.
More Students Will Be Eligible for Pell Grants
Pell Grants are federal student aid that does not need to be repaid, unlike loans, as long as you meet the criteria and qualifications. They’re generally awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need. More students will be seeing eligibility for these grants in the future.
Students will also see the removal of the time limit on subsidized loans. This will allow students access to the funds as needed throughout the course of their college education.
The SAI Replaces the EFC
In the past, the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, was used to show how much a family could be expected to pay towards a student’s education and how much financial aid the student would receive. It is not always on the button – you may pay nowhere near where you’re expected.
Going forward though, the Student Aid Index, or SAI, will be replacing the EFC. It’s the same idea, but the number now has the ability to be in the negative. This will make it easier than ever for students to receive financial aid and for colleges to identify those who need assistance the most.
It’s important to keep on top of all FAFSA changes, especially as we head into new award years. Understanding how the form works and how it affects your financial aid offers can be a difference-maker when it comes to receiving the actual assistance you need.