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New year, new FAFSA!

Let's talk about the exciting changes coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in the 2024–2025 academic year and how they will impact you. The FAFSA is going through its first major changes in 40 years as a result of recent federal legislation known as the FUTURE Act and the FAFSA Simplification Act. The aim of FAFSA simplification is exactly what it sounds like — to make the financial aid application process easier.

Here are the highlights:

Shorter application: Say goodbye to those long FAFSA forms! Some questions have been dropped, and others won't be asked anymore because of changes in how tax and income information is collected.

Introducing contributors: A contributor is the new name for anyone required to include their information on the FAFSA. Contributors include you, and if applicable, your spouse, your biological or adoptive parent, or the spouse of a remarried parent who is on the FAFSA — the stepparent.

The new FAFSA is student-driven, so that means your answers will determine who will be a contributor (in addition to you, the student). You will need the contributor’s name, date of birth, Social Security number (if available) and email address to invite them to complete the required portion of the FAFSA. Contributors will need to provide personal and financial information on their section of the FAFSA.

Tax and income data: Starting for the 2024–2025 academic year, everyone reporting tax information on the FAFSA will import their tax information directly into the FAFSA. This is a required step and any contributor who does not consent to the import will make the student ineligible for financial aid.

Student Aid Index: The FAFSA is introducing a new term, the Student Aid Index, to replace the Estimated Family Contribution. This change reflects a more accurate way to determine your aid eligibility within various programs. It is not what you or your family have to pay out of pocket for school.

Pell Grant eligibility: Student Pell Grant eligibility has expanded to more students and links eligibility amounts to household size and federal poverty limits.

What's not changing:

The FAFSA remains a crucial step for federal, institutional and state aid.

Questions about sex, race and ethnicity introduced in 2023–2024 won't affect your federal student aid eligibility; they're for research purposes only and you can skip them if you don't want to answer them.

Dependency status questions for parent involvement remain the same.

The FAFSA will still request tax information from the prior-prior year.

Degree-seeking students can still get student loans if they complete the FAFSA and have not defaulted on previous loans.

Remember, it's an annual application for continuing students.

Don't wait, apply early!

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