File Your FAFSA
By: Financial Hotline
Fall 2023 (Vol. 41, No. 3)
The FAFSA Simplification Act will bring significant changes and improvements to the processes and systems used to award federal student aid starting with the 2024–25 award year. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form will be available in December 2023. This is a couple months later than the usual October date so don’t delay. Go to www.studentaid.gov to create an account and begin your application. If you have already submitted a form for 2023-2024, you should receive an email from Student Aid to complete the 2024-2025 form.
Key changes include:
- The new form has been slimmed down to 36 questions to 108 in the past.
- Both parents and students must create a Student Aid account to get a Financial Student Aid ID.
- If parents are divorced, the parent who provided the most financial support in the last calendar year will complete the FAFSA.
- The sibling discount is eliminated. Having multiple students in college is no longer a factor.
- Income protection allowances (IPA) will increase 20% for parents, 35% for students and 60% for student single parents. The IPA allows you to exclude your family’s basic living expenses from the eligibility formula. The new format makes it easier to import data from your tax records using a direct data exchange from the IRA.
- A new formula to measure your ability to pay for college. The Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This change eliminates the number of family members in college from the calculation, allows a minimum SAI of -$1500, and uses separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants.
- The Federal Pell Grant is expanded to link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level.
- Incarcerated students in federal and state penal facilities will regain the ability to receive a Federal Pell Grant.
Lower income families may see an increase in aid. But, as the emphasis is more on overall wealth and less on cash-flow, this could mean less aid for middle and higher- income families. Families with multiple children in college and those families that own small businesses or farms may see the most reduction in funding. In the past, if you had a sibling in college, the amount you were expected to pay was divided between the two. That discount no longer applies. If your family has an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $60,000 or higher, and you own a farm or small business with less than 100 employees, you will now have to claim your farm or business as an asset.
Q: What information will I need to complete the FAFSA?
A: If you are a dependent student you will need your federal income tax returns, W-2s and any other records of money you earned. You would also include your parents income tax returns and W-2s and other income information. If you are an independent student, you would only need to submit your information and if married, you would include your spouse’s information as well.
Q: My parents aren’t helping with my education. Can I exclude them from the FAFSA process?
A: No. You are still required to report their information unless you are over the age of 24 by December 31 of the award year, married, graduate or professional student, a veteran or in the armed services, an orphan, ward of the court, an emancipated minor, have legal dependents other than a spouse or homeless.
Q: I cannot contact my parents for their information. Is there a way for me to still apply?
A: Yes. Fill out the FAFSA online and when prompted, state you are unable to provide your parents’ information. This will allow you to file but the application won’t be processed. Next you will need to go to the financial aid office of the school you plan to attend to proceed with the application. You may still be able to apply citing special circumstances. Examples include:
- Parent(s) are incarcerated
- You have no communication due to an abusive environment
- You don’t know where they are or how to contact them
- You are under 24 with no parental support and homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless