The New FAFSA Form: Conquering your FAFSA Fears

By Cole Purvis
Two stacks of $100 bills with rubber bands around them on a table

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a tedious yet essential form that opens a variety of financial support opportunities for students as they navigate the ups and downs of college life. Each year, over a million students who file the FAFSA receive more than $100 billion in grants, work study and low interest loans from the U.S. Department of Education. However, this year’s form is changing. But what does a new FAFSA form mean?

The following is a guide to help you understand the ins and outs of the new FAFSA form, so you or the student in your life are equipped with the support needed to pursue your goals.

Who should apply?

Any college student is generally eligible for a FAFSA loan given they meet its most basic requirements—you are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen; you are enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school; and you have a financial need.

What’s different about this year’s FAFSA?

The FAFSA Simplification Act has made dramatic changes to the ordinary FAFSA application process. Of the most notable changes is the replacement of the formula to measure a student’s need for financial aid. The new need analysis formula removes the number of family members in college from the calculation.

The FAFSA Simplification Act will also expand the Federal Pell Grant to more students and will link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level. Furthermore, incarcerated students in federal and state penal facilities will regain the ability to receive such grants.

When is this year’s FAFSA?

The FAFSA typically opens on October 1st of each year. However, due to major restructuring and changes, the 2024- 2025 FAFSA will not be open until sometime in December of this year.

Where can I find the FAFSA form?

Students, parents and guardians can find and fill out the FAFSA form on the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website: By navigating this site, people can not only find their FAFSA form, but can brush up on additional information regarding federal student aid.

Why are all these changes happening?

The changes to the FAFSA form all stem from a matter of convenience and efficiency. This new form aims to simplify an often-critiqued process. Students can rest assured knowing the FAFSA is not going anywhere. Despite seemingly dramatic changes on the horizon, the FAFSA remains one of the most important tools for financial planning in college.

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