The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid form for 2024-2025 will be launched by the Department of Education before the end of December.
Students looking to benefit from federal financial aid to finance their university studies next year will have more opportunities for grants thanks to a revamped application process. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to gain access to grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and student loans through the federal government.
With the soaring cost of higher education and the debates surrounding the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness initiative, there has been a strong push to improve the federal financial aid process.
More students will be eligible for financial aid thanks to the redesign of the awards structure.
“These bold changes will ultimately put affordable higher education within reach of more Americans, including 610,000 students from low-income families who will become eligible for Pell Grants for the very first time,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a press release.
The Department of Education also estimates that 1.5 million students will be able to receive the maximum Pell Grant amount (which was $7,395 for the 2023-2034 year), reaching a projected total of over 5.2 million students.
In Texas, the Department of Education expects an increase of 51,296 students who will be newly eligible for Pell Grants and 132,667 students who will be eligible to receive the maximum amount.
“Pell Grants are a critical lifeline for millions of students and families to attend college or career school and pursue the American dream,” explained Richard Cordray, Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer.
Another change is that the new Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which lawmakers decided to eliminate in December 2020. Both the SAI and the EFC evaluate the financial resources expected to be at a student’s disposal, yet the new formula removes the number of family members in college from its calculation and should provide a more realistic estimate of costs.
In the past, the EFC was criticized for being below what new university students and their families would actually have to come up with in order to attend school.
Another change this year is that the application has been streamlined. Applicants are able to skip questions — there are 46 in total — that do not apply to them. For some, the whole process may be done in less than 10 minutes.
Alongside this aim to make things faster, applicants’ tax information from the IRS will be automatically added to the application, making it easier to file. However, this also means that all contributors — such as the applying student’s parents, stepparents, or spouses — to the application must have their own FAFSA account and consent to this IRS data transfer.