FAFSA Delay: 5 Steps to Ensure Your State and College Aid Aren't Affected

By Melissa Brock · February 27, 2024 · 4 minute read

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FAFSA Delay: 5 Steps to Ensure Your State and College Aid Aren't Affected

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 wasn’t available until December 31, 2023. Ironically, the delay was due to an initiative to simplify the lengthy form, eliminating two-thirds of the questions.

The holdup is affecting other aspects of college admissions and financial aid. Take a look at a few ways to ensure it doesn’t impact your state and college aid, and tips for how to approach the new FAFSA application.

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 and Connecticut students must file the FAFSA by March 15, 2024, 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. Fortunately, many colleges recognize this issue and have pushed their acceptance deadline — typically May 1 — to May 15 or even June 1.

Recommended: What Percentage of Parents Pay for College?

3 Steps to Hit All Your Financial Aid Deadlines

Meeting your financial aid deadlines ensures that you take advantage of all opportunities.

1. Submit the FAFSA as Soon as Possible

How do you prepare for filing the FAFSA? You can look at our FAFSA 101: How to Complete the FAFSA to learn how to complete the current form. 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.

The new version will include the following changes:

•   Fewer questions. The new FAFSA features 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.

2. Look out for Financial Aid Communications

Keep checking in 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 college deadlines. 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.

Recommended: 31 Facts About FAFSA for Parents

3. Learn About Financial Aid Options

Parents should have the college money talk with their student to explain what they can and can’t afford.

Seek out scholarships and grants that are not dependent on the FAFSA.

And use a student loan calculator to decide how much you want to borrow.

The Takeaway

If you haven’t yet submitted your FAFSA form, do so as soon as possible. Some state and college financial aid deadlines are earlier than the federal deadline. Research your state deadline and stay in contact with your preferred colleges and universities.

Once 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.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

Photo credit: iStock/hobo_018

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