The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, we take a closer look at the changes in the FAFSA policies that will be implemented by the next application cycle and what this means for families. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!
New FAFSA policies for 2024-25 application cycle
The final set of changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be implemented in December 2023, Forbes has reported, and will be applicable for the 2024-25 academic year. This will also be the largest set of changes to the primary financial aid application used by colleges and universities in the United States. The changes outlined in the 2020 FAFSA Simplification Act will, like the name suggests, simplify the application form itself while amending the calculations used to determine eligibility for financial aid provided by the federal government and institutions.
Here are some of the changes families can expect to see:
- Alignment of more questions on FAFSA with federal income tax returns
- Reduction in the number of questions from 108 to about 36
- Automatic transfer of IRS data to the FAFSA leading to a reduced likelihood of verification because fewer questions and more data transferred from the IRS
- Increase in aid eligibility for single parents
- Decrease in aid eligibility for middle- and high-income families
- A new approach with a shift in focus away from cash flow to a slightly greater emphasis on wealth
- A simplified calculation that will increase the number of Pell eligible students
- Reporting assets for small businesses and family farms
- No need to provide housing plans for the academic year
- Discontinuing the lower SAI (formerly the EFC), assumed college savings and income protection for students with siblings attending college at the same time
These changes are a mixed bag. Low-income students will benefit from the changes with more money being awarded through the Pell Grant. It is estimated that nearly 2.1 million additional students will qualify for a Pell Grant under the revised formula. However, for middle-class families the lack of a sibling “discount” and the inclusion of family farms as small businesses will mean less aid.