Schools, Colleges, Encouraged to Prepare for Student Aid Changes

October 05, 2023

Every year, helping students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a vital step to ensure that postsecondary education is financially accessible.  This year, though, will be different.

In response to legislation enacted by the federal lawmakers, FAFSA is getting its first major overhaul in 40 years with the intent of streamlining the application process and making it easier for more students to complete it.

Here are a few things to know about the new 2024-25 “Better FAFSA,” as it has been branded by the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). 

The Better FAFSA is set for a delayed launch in December 2023 instead of October 1. FSA has not yet announced an exact date. This change means that the fall 2023 college application process for high school seniors will unfold on a different timeline, and high schools should consider how to rearrange schedules for college application and financial aid assistance.

The Better FAFSA will increase the number of students with lower family incomes who are eligible to receive a Pell Grant. The U.S. Dept. of Education estimates that that the new FAFSA will increase Pell Grant recipients by nearly 15%. The maximum Pell Grant will automatically become available to students from households earning less than around twice the federal poverty level for their household size. 

Additional highlights of the many Better FAFSA changes include:

  • The number of application questions will be reduced significantly.
  • Students will be able to list up to 20 colleges on the application (up from 10).
  • Everyone will need an FSA ID to input information into the new application.
  • The new application is role-based, and each person will only be able to see questions assigned to them based on their role.
  • There is a new process for individuals without Social Security numbers to obtain an FSA ID.
  • New policies will streamline assistance for students in foster care or experiencing homelessness.

The National College Attainment Network’s Better FAFSA page is also a one-stop-shop for all things Better FAFSA, including a series of free webinars, and is updated regularly.