FAFSA Changes roll out in delayed soft launch in 2024

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was delayed from its usual launch on Oct. 1 until Dec. 30 when it was announced that the availability of the form was part of a soft launch. The delay for the 2024-2025 FAFSA was due to changes made to the form required by the FAFSA simplification act passed on Dec 27, 2020 which takes effect this year.

The measure for determining aid has been adjusted, changing from Expected Family Contribution to Student Aid Index. The Student Aid Index has the potential to be a negative number unlike the Expected Family Contribution, meaning eligible families may receive increased aid compared to previous years. Families with an annual income between $60,000 and $70,000 are more likely to receive aid than similar applicants to past FAFSAs.

Family size is now linked to poverty level and the form no longer asks for the number of family members who attended college. These changes manifest in a predicted increase of students eligible for Pell Grants and a decrease in aid for some families with multiple children attending college at the same time. The FAFSA has been shortened from around 100 questions to about 36 for most applicants.

Due to the delayed launch applicants have been advised to anticipate receiving aid later than is usual. Students can expect an increased chance of receiving a Pell grant, while students entering college with siblings may see a decrease in aid compared to previous years.