FAFSA Changes: What Families Need to Know

In this article, we unpack the exciting changes coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 school year. Our commitment is to keep you well-informed for a smooth financial aid journey. Let’s explore the recent transformations and understand what they mean for you.

The FAFSA Unveiled:

The FAFSA is your passport to financial aid for college, determining eligibility for federal aid like grants and loans by assessing your family’s financial situation. Even if you are convinced that your family’s income will prevent you from getting need-based financial aid, you should still file the FAFSA for the following reasons:

  • Some colleges and universities also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for merit-based scholarships.
  • Completing the FAFSA, gives you access Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, which are available to all eligible students regardless of financial need.
  • It will be necessary if circumstances change, and the family needs to reevaluate their ability to cover educational costs.
  • The FAFSA is a prerequisite for eligibility in the Federal Work-Study Program, which provides part-time employment opportunities for students to help cover their educational expenses.
  • Some colleges and universities have institutional policies that require the submission of the FAFSA for all applicants, regardless of their financial need.

Goodbye EFC, Hello SAI:

First things first—bid farewell to the confusing term ‘Expected Family Contribution’ (EFC). The star of the show is now the ‘Student Aid Index’ (SAI), calculated based on your FAFSA form. A lower SAI signifies more need-based financial aid, including grants.

User-Friendly FAFSA:

The new FAFSA is designed with you in mind. With a streamlined set of 36 questions (down from 108), it’s a more straightforward process. Thanks to the IRS Direct Data Exchange, your income information is seamlessly imported, reducing the hassle of searching for tax details and minimizing entry errors.

Which Parent(s) Income Will Be Included:

For families whose parents live together, both will contribute financial information to the FAFSA, regardless of marital status. However, a significant change is for for divorced or separated parents living apart. The contributor is the parent providing the majority of the student’s financial support. This includes any income from a stepparent if the contributor is remarried.

Positive Changes to Embrace:

Now, let’s focus on another significant positive change. Families receiving certain income-based federal benefits receive an automatic SAI of zero. Grandparents and family members contributing to 529 plans won’t increase the SAI.

Multi-student Discount Discontinued:

In the past, families who had multiple students attending college at the same time could see a dramatic increase in their calculated financial need on the FAFSA. However, having multiple family members in college won’t lower your SAI this year.

Timing Matters:

Perhaps the most significant impact of the new FAFSA is the timing. The form normally opens on October 1 and will not open this year until December 31- three full months later. As a result, financial aid packages from colleges may not be distributed before mid-February, unlike previous years. Therefore, filing your FAFSA as soon as it opens is crucial to secure your aid.

Smart Moves After Filing:

Once your FAFSA is filed, take a strategic step. Google the names of your applied colleges along with ‘net price calculator.’ Enter your SAI to estimate potential aid. Need personalized assistance? That’s where we come in!

Closing Thoughts:

At CompleteAdvising.com, we’re ready to provide personalized reviews of your financial aid situation. Book your comparison appointment at CompleteAdvising.com/schedule or email anderson@completeadvising.com. Let’s turn your educational dreams into a financial reality!

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