December 5, 2023

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Diving Overview:

  • A new, simplified version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, will be released sometime in December, the U.S. Department of Education said confirmed tuesday.
  • Normally, the financial aid form becomes available in October of each year, but the Department of Education is streamlining the application after Congress approved changes to it in 2020. The revised FAFSA will apply to students seeking aid for the 2024-25 academic year. .
  • Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office, FSA, also in December will post “test and demo” websites for counselors and financial aid administrators to help staff, students and families navigate the updated form.

Diving Statistics:

Congress approved changes to the FAFSA legislation in late 2020. College access advocates have long sought to simplify the form, which is notoriously difficult for students and families to analyze and complete.

Originally, the redesigned FAFSA was slated to launch in the 2023-24 academic year. But in 2021, the Ministry of Education, citing problems with outdated technology delayed implementation to the 2024-25 cycle.

Several higher education organizations, including the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, or NASFAA, urged the Ministry of Education define exactly when a new FAFSA will be issued. They said states, colleges and access groups will need time to “make significant adjustments to their systems and processes based on the FAFSA release date.”

Now organizations have an answer.

The Department of Education said Tuesday that due to the “unprecedented complexity of creating the new form, including a new streamlined application flow for students and parents; and process for securely obtaining tax information directly from the Internal Revenue Service, FSA’s top priority is to ensure a successful start to the 2024-2025 FAFSA season.”

The department said it intends to return to the Oct. 1 release date starting with the 2025-26 awards season.

This year’s delay to December is unlikely to affect the decision schedule of most colleges and the matriculation process.

Sometime in the spring of 2023, the Department of Education will also release tools to help officials understand the differences between Expected Family Contribution, the EFC — historically a metric for determining how much students and families pay for college after aid — and the upcoming Student Aid Index, which will work similarly to the EFC .

Beginning in the summer of 2023, the Office of Student Support will offer webinars for administrators to learn about developments in financial aid application and eligibility.

In a statement, NASFAA President Justin Draeger praised the Department of Education for committing to a date by which the FAFSA will be published.

He said the world of higher education is preparing for a “once-in-a-lifetime change in how students apply for and receive financial aid.”

“While these myriad improvements may go unnoticed by those who do not work directly with students, there are a number of behind-the-scenes updates to systems and processes that are absolutely critical to a smooth transition,” Draeger said. “We know that Federal Student Aid understands the importance of this process, and we are pleased to provide the resources and training necessary for student support and college access professionals to fully implement these changes.”

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