What’s changing with the FAFSA, and what can you do now to be ready?

Feel like you are forgetting something? With the holidays behind us, it might be the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—but you aren’t alone. Due to changes passed in 2021 and amended in 2022 by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the FAFSA is late to open this year as the changes are implemented. The 2024–25 FAFSA form is scheduled to open on December 31, 2023. 

The FAFSA Simplification Act is a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid starting with the 2024–25 award year. Amending outdated and cumbersome processes, the FAFSA changes are worth the wait.  

Who do the FAFSA changes impact?

Answer—everyone! Whether you’re a prospective family completing the FAFSA for your very first year of college or a family of a current college student needing to file your annual FAFSA, these changes impact you! Gordon College encourages all students––prospective and current––to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. 

What do the FAFSA changes mean for you?

Here are three ways you may feel the the FAFSA changes: 

1. The FAFSA experience will be easier. 

The changes from the FAFSA Simplification Act streamline the FAFSA experience by reducing the number of questions and eliminating some of the intricate financial details. There was a significant reduction in the number of questions on the form, from 108 to 46. This reduction means less time spent navigating a web of complex queries, resulting in a more user-friendly and accessible application experience. The streamlined process makes completing the forms easier for both first-time applicants and returning students, ensuring that financial aid remains within reach for those who need it most. 

2. You may find out your aid package late. 

While the goal of the FAFSA Simplification Act is to simplify the application process, it’s important to note that these changes may initially lead to delayed completion times. Additionally, the FAFSA typically opens in the fall. With a new opening date of December 31, it could be a few months longer than normal before you learn your aid package. The sooner you can complete the form, the better. 

3. You could get more aid. 

In addition to a more straightforward process, the formulas used to calculate the amount of aid could result in more aid being awarded. By focusing on income rather than complex asset details, the Act aims to ensure that financial aid is more accurately distributed to those who need it most. 

The expansion of auto-zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC) eligibility also means that more low-income families could qualify for maximum Pell Grants and other need-based aid, potentially alleviating the financial burden of higher education for many. 

Should you still apply for FAFSA? Short answer—YES. It is always a good idea to have access to aid, even if you don’t think you need it, and you cannot apply once the application period has closed. 

What can you do while waiting for the FAFSA to open? 

1. Find out who your contributors are. 

Each contributor requires a separate account. For many students this will include your parents. If your parents did not file taxes jointly, then both of your parents are contributors. If your parents file taxes jointly, only one parent is required as a contributor and will report information for both parents. 

Listing someone as a contributor on the FAFSA form doesn’t mean they are financially responsible for your education costs. This change accurately reflects each contributor’s financial status, offering a clearer picture of your family’s overall financial need. 

2. Set up separate accounts for yourself and your contributors.

Create an account here. Contributors will need a StudentAid.gov account before accessing and completing their section of the online form. Contributors will access their StudentAid.gov account by using their FSA ID (account username and password). 

3. Stay connected. 

The FAFSA process is evolving, and staying informed is crucial. The FAFSA Simplification Act emphasizes transparency and accessibility. Following FAFSA on social media will give you real-time updates, ensuring you’re well informed about any changes or announcements.  

Get connected, stay informed and be prepared for a smoother financial aid application experience. If you are applying to Gordon College, remember to list Gordon College’s code––002153––on your school list, and we’ll automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically.

Fore more information on the FAFSA changes, make sure to contact Student Financial Services at Gordon College.