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New FAFSA Form for College Aid: 5 Things to Know

New FAFSA form is finally here, making it easier to qualify for financial aid and scholarships. The changes are significant.

After numerous delays and setbacks, the much-anticipated new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has finally been released, albeit in a soft launch. The Education Department has announced that the updated application will be periodically available online during this initial phase.

This redesigned form is the result of two bipartisan laws passed three years ago, aimed at simplifying the application process and increasing access to grant and scholarship money. With fewer questions and more data directly uploaded for applicants, experts believe that completing the FAFSA should now be easier than ever.

The new FAFSA formula will also provide more opportunities for students from low- and moderate-income households to qualify for financial assistance. However, these changes may also reduce eligibility for some families, particularly those with multiple children in college.

For the millions of students applying or enrolled in college for the 2024-25 academic year, these changes will have a significant impact. Any student pursuing higher education or a trade should fill out the application, as it is used to determine eligibility for grants, work-study jobs, and loans at the federal level, while many states and schools rely on the form to distribute scholarships.

While students are ultimately responsible for completing the FAFSA, those who are dependents will require their parents' financial information to do so. With the family's consent, the Education Department can automatically access tax information from the Internal Revenue Service through a simplified data transfer, as outlined in the FUTURE Act.

The Education Department has been implementing the FAFSA changes in phases, with several adjustments already in effect. However, the most significant updates are expected to take effect this year, including a reduction in the number of questions on the form and the transition to the Student Aid Index (SAI), which replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) used in previous years.

Despite these changes, more of a student and family's income will be protected from the formula used to calculate how much they should contribute to their college costs. This will make more students eligible for the federal Pell Grant, with approximately 2.1 million students previously ineligible for Pell projected to become recipients as a result of the update.

Students can fill out the form online or complete the paper version and mail it to the Education Department. The federal deadline to submit the 2024-25 FAFSA will be June 30, 2025, but the Education Department has advised that there is no need to rush, as the form is being soft-launched to monitor and fix issues in the system.

However, it is still recommended to fill out the form sooner rather than later, as funds are limited, and early submissions give students a better chance of accessing state and institutional scholarships. For more information about the FAFSA, students can visit

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