Every year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is opened on October 1st for the following school year. The FAFSA is used to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid. While completing it is optional, this form is required in order to obtain any kind of federal aid, including federal grants and student loans.
We encourage everyone, no matter your financial need, to complete the FAFSA each year when the application becomes available. The cost of tuition is expensive and rising each year. Completing the application will allow you to review all your options before deciding on how to fund your or your child’s education.
Below are the types of financial aid provided through the Federal programs:
- Loans: A determined sum of money you eventually must pay back in full, with interest.
- Grants: Money you do not need to repay; often based on financial need.
- Work-Study: Provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need.
The 2021 Appropriations Act passed into law last December, made changes to the several Federal student aid and loan programs, including the FAFSA. These changes are are expected to make the college admissions process easier and less time-consuming for all.
The most exciting change, taking effect October 1, 2021, shortens the FAFSA to make it more user-friendly and easier to complete. The act reduces the number of questions on the FAFSA from 108 to a maximum of 36.
Starting in October 2022, a few more adjustments plan to be implemented.
- The change from Effective Family Contribution (EFC) to Student Aid Index (SAI). While largely the same, it allows lower-income families the ability to accurately report their financial need.
- The Pell Grant increases in size and expands to a larger number of grantees.
- The elimination of lifetime loan limits, where students could only be covered for 150% of their education or 6 years. The 2021 Appropriations Act repeals the limitation.
We want to help make a student’s admission process less time-intensive by staying on top of recent regulation. It’s our job to provide education on and highlight any changes that may impact your future.
I’m sure you’re all thinking … Okay, so October 1st, what do I need to know?
- The FAFSA application process will be shorter this year
- Families’ income will now be reported directly from the IRS. If you are not eligible, you will need to enter information manually as done in years past.
- Colleges are required to be more transparent
- They must disclose all cost of attendance elements on the institution’s website, wherever the college lists tuition and fees. Many have their own EFC calculators.
- Submit as soon as possible.
- Many schools hand out financial aid on a first-come basis
- Everyone should fill out the FAFSA form
- Regardless of your family’s income status, many schools are beginning to require a FAFSA for merit-based scholarships.
- You must complete a new FAFSA every year
- It’s never a one-and-done application!
With the application simplified, finishing a FAFSA is no longer a chore. The environment for loans and scholarships continues to be increasingly competitive. You do not want to leave money on the table in regards to funding education.
Please reach out to your advisor if you have any questions on financial aid or in relation to your plan.