Money matters: looking into the FAFSA changes for this year

By Alyssa Burgei,

As we jump into January 2024, changes are being made to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for students who need financial assistance for college. The changes in application come from the new FAFSA Simplification Act passed for the 2024-25 year.

The first of these changes is the new form applied to the Student Aid Index (SAI). This included removing the number of family members in colleges in calculations, separating the criteria for Federal Pell Grants and changing the minimum SAI to -1500. 

The second category of change is based on family. This change puts more emphasis on the student’s/parent’s tax returns, as well as the size of the student’s family.

The next change is to Federal Pell Grants. The Act is broadening access to Federal Pell Grants based on family size and the federal poverty level. On top of that, students affected by school closures or misleading information are able to regain eligibility for Pell Grants in that same year. Continuing over from last year’s changes into this year, incarcerated students in federal and state penal facilities are also allowed to receive Pell Grants.

The final major change under the Simplification Act deals with the process of applying. This new Act removes Selective Service registration and drug conviction questions. Another change requires using data directly from the IRS for Pell Grants and calculating SAI due to the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education Act (FUTURE Act). Carrying over changes made last year, they decided to keep questions about applicants’ sex, race and ethnicity, which have no impact on federal aid eligibility.

While a lot of the FAFSA remains the same, changes must adapt to the ever-changing world around us. As both college students and parents, it’s important for everyone to understand the changes being made because it impacts those involved.