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A New Version of FAFSA Comes Out This Year. Here's What You Need To Know

A grid piece of paper has FAFSA and a graduation cap doodle  with stacks of bills and a calculator.
Changes are coming to how you apply for federal student aid.
(Andrii Dodonov/Getty Images
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The U.S Department of Education is getting ready to release a new version of the financial aid application later this year and you have until May 23 to submit comments on a current draft of the new version.

Why it matters

Many families preparing to send their kids off to college are in the midst of filling out the Free Application for Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. It's a lengthy and tedious process that many find frustrating and confusing, but that could soon change with the department's efforts to streamline the process.

Why now

Back in 2020, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act to make the process easier. Under that act, changes to the FAFSA application would go into effect for the 2024-2025 school year.

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FAFSA applications also open later — December 1.

What are the changes

FAFSA will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). The EFC typically measured how much your family would be able to pay for college. That number then determined how much financial aid you qualified for.

Now, the new formula using the SAI removes the number of family members in college from the calculation and implements separate eligibility requirements for Federal Pell Grants.

You can access a breakdown of the how the SAI calculations will work in determining your eligibility for a Pell Grant here.

Access to Pell Grants are also expanding. As of the 2023-2024 school year, incarcerated students attending an approved education program were able to regain their eligibility for a Pell Grant. And, the Federal Pell Grant lifetime eligibility was restored to students whose school closed during the school year.

The FAFSA already removed questions on drug-related convictions and the Selective Service registration, which is part of a federal law to require all 18 to 25 year old Americans assigned male at birth to register for military service.

The new application also makes it easier to input your federal tax information from the IRS. No more having to search frantically for those tax returns

How to share your thoughts

The Department of Education wants people to submit public comments on the current draft by May 23. You can submit your comments here.

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