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FAFSA updates 2024: What are the most significant changes if you’re applying?

The Department of Education has implemented comprehensive updates to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) system, marking the most significant changes in years to aid the application process. These updates include a new methodology for determining aid eligibility, aimed at expanding access to Pell grants for approximately 7.3 million students. The initiative also introduces on-site support personnel to assist lower-resourced colleges with student aid packages, ensuring that all students have equitable access to financial aid.


Efforts to speed up the processing of student records have been a focal point of the updates, addressing delays that families previously faced. The form has been simplified, reducing the number of questions and requiring individual FAFSA accounts for both students and their guardians to improve accuracy in data submission. This change is part of an overarching strategy to make the financial aid process more accessible and transparent for students and families planning for college expenses.

The FAFSA simplification includes a significant expansion of federal Pell Grant eligibility, accommodating groups such as incarcerated students who were previously excluded. A noteworthy change is the introduction of the Student Aid Index (SAI) to replace the Expected Family Contribution, offering a more nuanced assessment of aid eligibility based on a combination of applicant data and IRS information. These updates aim to streamline the financial aid process, encouraging more students to explore and realize their educational goals.



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