New FAFSA policies for 2024-25 application cycle | This Week in Admissions News

09/06/20235 minute read
New FAFSA policies for 2024-25 application cycle | This Week in Admissions News

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.

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  1. Columbia University announced that its undergraduate schools will no longer participate in submitting data to the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings, making it the first Ivy League university to do so. Columbia decided to no longer provide data for ranking purposes after becoming concerned about the “outsized influence” that the rankings have in the world of undergraduate admissions. Provost Mary Boyce also wrote that the expected Supreme Court decision ending affirmative action “may well lead to a reassessment of admissions policies in ways we can’t even contemplate at this point.” US News responded saying they will continue to rank Columbia using the information provided in its Common Data Set.
  2. The proportion of students who applied from the EU to Oxford fell to 7.5% in 2022 from 12.5% in 2018. On the other hand, since 2018, the proportion of students admitted who are from the UK has risen to 79.4% from 77.6%, whilst the proportion from non-EU countries has increased to 16.8% from 14.1%. The number of students admitted in 2022 remained at the usual level, at 3,271 at. Approximately four fifths of those places (2,596) went to students living in the UK. The proportion from state schools rose from 60.5%11 to 68.1%. The proportion of women rose from 51.2% to 53.1%. 
  3. More than 1,900 colleges are not mandating that students submit SAT or ACT scores for admissions for fall 2023, Higher Ed Dive has reported. The tally comes from FairTest, a group advocating for the limited application of standardized assessments. The organization also found most of the institutions that waived entrance exam requirements for this year extended those policies through fall 2024. FairTest’s executive director, Harry Feder, said that the group believes few institutions will maintain testing mandates should the U.S. Supreme Court restrict race-conscious admissions, as it is expected to do this month.
  4. Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Southern California rank among some of the top schools to produce startup founders, Business Insider has reported. Crunchbase rounded up a list of the top 36 colleges in the US whose graduates have attained $1 million or more in funding for their startups since the beginning of 2022. Stanford topped the list of schools with 472 graduates, Berkeley ranked third with 297 graduate-turned-funded founders and USC rounded up the top 10 with 113.
  5. The number of people applying to law school has dropped for the second straight year, Reuters has reported. Law school applicants were down 2.4% over last year, according to the latest data from the Law School Admission Council. By that time last year, the council had received 96% of the applicant total. That means this cycle’s national applicant pool is likely to be slightly smaller than the previous year, which was 12% smaller than in 2021. This is further indication that the 13% applicant surge in 2021 was a COVID-19 one-off.
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