Applying to college? Here’s what to know about the new financial aid formula and revamped FAFSA


According to the new changes announced by FAFSA, there are several key updates to the application process for the 2024-2025 school year. Firstly, the filing timeline has been shifted, with applications opening on December 1st instead of the previous October 1st start date. However, the deadline for submitting applications remains the same: June 30, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. CT. This means that applicants will have a shorter time window to complete and submit their applications.

One significant change is the introduction of the Student Aid Index, which simplifies the application process by reducing the number of questions to be answered. Instead of considering multiple factors in addition to income, such as household size and the number of individuals attending college, the new application will rely more on tax information obtained directly from the IRS, specifically from tax returns for 2022. Through this information, the application will estimate how much a family can afford to contribute towards their education.

Another change is the elimination of the "sibling discount" previously offered to families with multiple children in college. This discount provided extra federal assistance, but starting from the 2024-2025 school year, it will no longer be available. This change will mainly impact middle- and higher-income families who may have relied on this discount, whereas lower-income families are not expected to be significantly affected.

On a positive note, the new application raises the family income threshold, allowing more than half a million additional students to qualify for aid in the form of a Pell Grant. This grant, which was traditionally available only to lower-income families, provides financial assistance based on family income and expected contributions. The higher eligibility threshold will make it possible for more students to receive aid through this grant.

Lastly, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of applying early. Many federal aid programs operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so submitting the FAFSA application as soon as possible is vital to maximize the chances of receiving aid.

Overall, these changes aim to simplify the FAFSA application process and make it more accessible to students and families.  

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