Aid on the Horizon
College students, take note! The Department of Education announced on November 15 that a new, streamlined FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2024-2025 academic year will be available by December 31, 2023.
For over 30 years, students have needed to complete the FAFSA application on time to be considered for federal student aid. Colleges also use FAFSA information to award financial aid packages. However, filling out the form has been seen as a complicated, time-consuming ordeal. But a redesign the DOE dubbed “the most ambitious” since the Reagan era will make it easier for students to get federal financial aid for college.
How the IRS Fits In
One of the challenges in completing the FAFSA form has been establishing family income to show financial need. Updating this process is key to the FAFSA overhaul.
The new form allows applicants to securely transfer federal tax information needed for the form directly from the IRS, which is “removing the burdensome and confusing step of connecting to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for almost 9 million applicants using the tool each year,” according to the DOE.
The new FAFSA is intended to help 610,000 more students from low-income backgrounds receive Pell Grants. Federal Pell Grants are usually only awarded to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need. But the FAFSA overhaul will allow 1.5 million more students access to the maximum Pell Grant award, bringing the total number of students eligible for the maximum Pell Grant to over 5.2 million, per the DOE.
More than 80% of college students benefit from some form of financial aid, according to the Education Data Initiative.
The DOE also released key dates and facts concerning the form.
• The improved FAFSA form will be available for students and parents by December 31, 2023.
• Once the application is complete, students will receive a confirmation email including their estimated Student Aid Index and Pell Grant eligibility.
• Students and families will also be able to download the form and mail it to the Department of Education.
• Schools will begin receiving aid eligibility information, including Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs), by the end of January 2024, with information on paper forms to follow.
• During this same time, students will also be able to make corrections and updates.
The DOE’s Federal Student Aid will provide regular status updates in a new 2024-25 FAFSA Updates feature.
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