FASFA updates 2024-25 form and eligibility

Caroline Bryant | The Southern Newspaper Photo by Dylan Olive | Students will complete the FASFA form in December rather than October.

Beatrice Fleurant
Staff Writer

Students everywhere wait until Oct. 1 for the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to open up to start the new form for the next academic year, which is set to undergo significant changes.

William L. Healy, FSC’s Director of Financial Aid, said this new process had been in the works for several years now.

“It is part of some legislation that occurred several years ago, which is part of The Futures Act,” Healy said. “The Futures Act (319-96) allowed the [U.S.] Department of Education to interact with the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] and enable that interface.” 

This interface will allow the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the IRS to communicate to each other about finances without the input from the student filling out the form. 

“The FAFSA will become smaller, it used to be over 100 questions, and with instructions and everything was like ten pages long, so it was pretty complex for students to navigate,” Healy said. 

In order for this to happen, the student has to allow permission for the ED to “access the IRS database and pull that information out.”

Unlike previous years, the launch date of the 2024-25 FAFSA is projected to be around the end of December 2023, not Oct. 1 like it has been for several years. 

“The problem with it is it has been very, very difficult for the US Department of Education to get their computer systems up and running and to get the interchange between the U.S. Department of Education and the IRS going where it needs to go,” Healy said.

Because of this problem, students lose about three months of time that they would normally have if the form opened on Oct. 1. Additionally, there are other major effects the new form is projected to have on students as well as educational institutions. 

“We speculate … the projections are that schools will see an increase in Pell Grant recipients, anywhere between 16-50%, more students that are eligible for Pell Grant, which is really good,” Healy said. 

Pell Grant eligibility is tied to household income and family size compared to poverty guidelines, with changes for different family structures. These guidelines are subject to change based on the new process. Healy did warn that there will be a group of students that will become less eligible: students with siblings enrolled in college as well. 

“Now what they do is they go through and analyze, okay this is what you can expect your family to pay … so what happens now is they are not considering the number of people in the household, so for some students who have siblings who are also in college it could conceivably hurt,” Healy said. 

This will lead to students being their own entity separate from their family and possibly leading to a bigger student aid index (SAI) than they would have been in the old process.     

“There is a bit of uncertainty, but overall it’s going to be really good for our students from what we can see” Healy said. 

Healy drove home the idea that students should prepare for the new process by knowing their contributors’ information to make the process smoother.  

These changes aim to make the financial aid application process more accessible and efficient for students and their families. The specific launch date for the 2024-25 FAFSA is yet to be announced, but it’s expected to be more user-friendly and efficient when it becomes available.


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