The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), an online form that helps determine the amount of federal student aid given to current and prospective college students, has historically launched every year on October 1.
However, the FAFSA for the 2024-2025 school year won’t be available until December 2023. Ironically, the delay is due to an initiative to simplify the lengthy form, eliminating two-thirds of the questions.
The new deadline may affect other aspects of financial aid. Take a look at a few ways to ensure the delay doesn’t impact your state and college aid, and tips for how to approach the new FAFSA application.
When Will the 2024-2025 FAFSA Be Available?
On March 21, the Department of Education (DOE) announced that the release date of the new FAFSA is delayed until December 2023. An exact release date has not been announced. The DOE’s FAFSA Roadmap allows families to prepare for the upcoming changes.
The typical FAFSA deadlines are still in effect for the 2023-2024 school year.
How Might the FAFSA Delay Affect Students?
While the federal deadline to complete the FAFSA is June 30, students are encouraged to submit their application much earlier. One reason is that state and college-based financial aid, which use the FAFSA application and disburse aid on a first-come first-served basis, have earlier deadlines.
For example, Texas students must file the FAFSA by January 15, and Connecticut’s deadline is February 15 for priority consideration. Filing by your state’s deadline ensures that students receive maximum consideration for limited financial aid resources. You can check the deadline for your state on the FAFSA website .
The FAFSA delay may also affect a student’s college search. After all, if you don’t hear about financial aid from a school early in the year, you may have difficulty deciding the right fit.
In addition to the FAFSA delay, the new version will include the following changes:
• Fewer questions. The new FAFSA will feature fewer questions, decreasing application completion times.
• Automated tax data retrieval. The new IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX) will pull in parents’ and students’ tax information — no manual completion needed.
• More colleges. Students can list up to 20 colleges on the FAFSA, a change from the previous maximum of 10 colleges.
• No benefit from overlap. Previously, families with more than one child in college received additional benefits. The new FAFSA will decrease aid eligibility for middle- and high-income families with multiple children in college.
• Types of income. The FAFSA will no longer ask about some types of untaxed income, such as cash support (from grandparents, for example) or money from a grandparent’s 529 plan.
• Increase in Pell Grant eligibility. Pell Grants typically go to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. More than 174,000 students will now be eligible for the grant. Students could be eligible for an additional $1.6 billion.
• Divorced or separated parents. Currently, students who have divorced or separated parents list the parent they live with the majority of the time on the FAFSA. However, the FAFSA changes indicate that a student should list the parent that provides the most financial support.
Recommended: What Percentage of Parents Pay for College?
5 Steps to Hit All Your Financial Aid Deadlines
Meeting all financial aid deadlines ensures that you take advantage of all opportunities.
1. Stay on Top of Release Dates
Keep checking back for news about financial aid deadlines. Remember that you should still file the FAFSA even if you miss your state’s deadline. You may still qualify for federal aid.
School counselors and college access professionals will have information about the official FAFSA release dates. Check the FAFSA website or ask college advisors, career advisors, and other specialists.
2. Pay Attention to Communications from Financial Aid Administrators
Colleges and universities will be informed of the precise FAFSA release date. Current students may receive communications from their college or university. University and college portals will likely notify recent applicants when the FAFSA has been posted.
For example, DePaul University’s financial aid website states that the 2024-2025 FAFSA has been delayed. The website asks students to submit the FAFSA as soon as it is available and promises to post updates as they become available. The financial aid website encourages students to check BlueM@il for a notice about the FAFSA’s availability.
If you have any questions about the FAFSA, ask your preferred college’s financial aid administrators for direction, whether you’re a prospective or current student.
3. Create an FSA ID
Even if you cannot yet file the FAFSA, you can get ready to submit the application by getting separate Federal Student Aid IDs for both parent and student. It takes about 10 minutes to create an FSA ID.
An FSA ID is an account username and password that allows students and parents to “sign” the FAFSA form online. Parents of dependent students must also create their own, separate FSA IDs.
Recommended: 31 Facts About FAFSA for Parents
4. Submit the FAFSA as Soon as Possible
How do you prepare for filing the FAFSA? It’s tough to completely prepare for the newly revealed FAFSA besides creating an FSA ID. However, you can look at our FAFSA 101: How to Complete the FAFSA to learn how to complete the current FAFSA. Also consider looking into college financial aid terms for parents.
Submit the FAFSA as soon as you can. Current students need to submit the FAFSA every year, and so will current high school students who plan to apply for federal, state, and institutional aid using the FAFSA.
Keep an eye on your state and college/university deadlines in the context of the final college decision.
5. Learn About Financial Aid Options
Use the cost of college tuition to consider how you’ll pay for college. Financial aid options include scholarships, grants, federal student loans, and private student loans. Parents should have the college money talk with their student to explain what you can and can’t afford.
You can use a student loan calculator to decide how much you want to borrow.
There’s not much that current and prospective students can do until the federal government unveils the new FAFSA application, currently scheduled to launch in December. However, there are a few steps you can take to get ready for the new FAFSA as you wait: Stay in contact with colleges and universities about deadlines, research your state deadline, and get FSA IDs for both students and parents.
If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.
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