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The updated federal student aid form has been simplified

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Heads up, future and current college students, the new free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) arrived during holiday break, and there are a lot of changes. Typically the FAFSA is available on October 1st, but the overhaul of this application process, which aimed to streamline it, caused a delay. That means students and families need to get up to speed quickly but may have to wait longer for colleges to get their data and make a financial offer. A trimmed down version of the free application for federal student aid is now available online. Karen McCarthy, vice president of public policy and federal relations, national association of student financial aid administrators (NASFAA) said: "You never know what federal aid you might be eligible for."

The new FAFSA, which will determine federal aid eligibility for the 2024-25 academic year, has reduced the number of questions for students from as many as 108 to as few, as 18. The department of education says some applicants can complete the form in less than 10 minutes. The revamp approved by congress in 2019 and 2020 is a response to criticism that the previous process was too complicated and simplifies applications in two major ways. First, a tool connected with the IRS will allow all applicants to pull appropriate tax data from their parents' most recent income tax filings, with their parents’ consent. "The student will go in and say yes, you can pull any information on file at the IRS for me and then the parent will also go in and do the same" said Karen McCarthy, vice president of public policy and federal


Second, applicants can now skip questions that just aren't relevant to them. Also revised, the way aid, is calculated. That's expected to boost the number of lower-income students eligible for Federal Pell Grants which do not need to be repaid. But the new calculations eliminate the so-called "sibling discount" where students who had a sibling enrolled in college were eligible for more aid. Colleges will begin to receive applicant data in late January setting a tight clock for institutions that typically send aid award letter in March. "They will be scrambling to get those turned around so that students and families have adequate amount of time so that they can consider all of their options and make their enrollment decision" said Karen McCarthy, vice president of public policy and federal relations.

The department of education describes this period right now as a "soft launch." And they do warn that there may be some periods of time when the form is taken offline so they can perform maintenance and updates. Students are asked to factor those potential delays into an application timeline. 

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Gabby Hernandez


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