Review of the 2024-2025 FAFSA adjustments

FAFSA AdjustmentsModifications to the FAFSA application have been implemented for the academic year 2024-2025. | Photo via FIU Flickr

Magali Zoghaib | Contributing Writer

Students who have been consistently completing their FAFSA submission will become aware of the distinctions between the 2024-2025 FAFSA application and its predecessors. 

This change stems from the enactment of the FAFSA Simplification Act by Congress on December 27, 2020. 

The 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid became accessible to students as of December 31, 2023. Notably, this release experienced a three-month postponement compared to the customary launch date of October 1 which is attributed to the department’s efforts to refine the application’s qualifications.

Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that due to these updates, students will pay the price for delays in their financial aid offers. 

According to an article by the National Public Radio written by Cory Turner, the introduced delay of four to six weeks poses a significant impact on educational institutes as they find themselves unable to ascertain the appropriate financial aid allocations for students until they receive the FAFSA data from the government. 

Despite the delay, the Federal Department of Education estimates that approximately 610,000 new students will now qualify for the Pell Grant Award in the 2024-2025 award year.

In addition, the updated application has undergone numerous enhancements aimed at making it easier to complete. 

One of the most significant changes is the reduction of questions from 108 to 36 questions. This reduction is attributed to various simplifications including the implementation of  “direct data exchange”. 

This exchange mandates that students submit their FAFSA by allowing the IRS to directly import their federal tax information to the FAFSA form eliminating the need for manual data entry.

Furthermore, the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) has been replaced by the Student Aid Index (SAI) which is designed to assess the student’s capacity to cover college expenses and determine the appropriate level of financial aid they should receive. 

The aid is calculated by subtracting the student’s SAI from the school’s cost of attendance. 

This is particularly evident in the elimination of the sibling discount. Instead of assessing the family’s income and finances collectively, the FAFSA will now consider each student as an individual.

On a positive note, prospective students are now permitted to add up to 20 colleges to their FAFSA application, an increase from the previous limit of 10.

Moreover, a notable improvement is the extended availability of the application in nine additional languages. While previous applications were only accessible in English and Spanish, the new FAFSA is now offered in the eleven most widely spoken languages in the United States, aiming to enhance accessibility for a broader range of students. 

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