FAFSA Changes? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Student Loans


2 min. read

By: FCU Team

Paying for college is a concern millions of students and parents deal with every year, and the FAFSA is the answer to many of those concerns. With new changes coming to the FAFSA soon, we thought we’d share a few of them with you here.

But First, What is the FAFSA?

That’s a question we answered in more detail in a previous blog! In short, the FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Aid,” and it’s used to apply for federal student aid programs offered by the U.S. Department of Education. While there are changes coming, a lot of what we wrote in our previous blog is still true. This includes what the FAFSA is, and the common mistakes you should avoid when it comes to filling it out. Make sure you check it out!

Why is the FAFSA changing?

The FAFSA is changing due to the FAFSA Simplification Act, and its aim to make a shorter, more user-friendly version of the FAFSA. This change will begin with the 2024-2025 school year.

When Can I Start the Application?

The exact date hasn’t been ironed out just yet. With these changes, the usual October 1st start date for applications has been pushed back to sometime in December. Stay tuned to the federal student aid website to see the most up to date information on the application. As before, we highly recommend you completely the FAFSA form as fast as possible, as early application can result in a higher award.

What is Changing in the New FAFSA?

There are quite a few changes coming, but here are four of the most important ones we’ve identified.

More Languages and a Shorter Application

The new application will be available in 11 of the most common languages. Previously restricted to only English and Spanish, this change will make it possible for more families to be able to fill the FAFSA out with as few barriers as possible. Speaking of those barriers, another has undoubtedly been the length of the application. The former FAFSA application was a 100+ question monster! In order to simplify the application, the number of questions is being lowered to a maximum of 46.

The Introduction of “Contributors”

A new term that applicants should become familiar with is contributors, which are defined as anyone who has to provide information in a student’s application. A contributor can be a student, their spouse, and biological or adoptive parents. Bear in mind that contributors will need to consent and approve for their federal tax information to be transferred into the FAFSA form.

The Student Aid Index

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is being replaced with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This isn’t just a name change though as, according to studentaid.gov, “students and families will see a different measure in their ability to pay for college, and they’ll experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid.” 

Pell Grant Availability

Federal Pell Grants will become more accessible for students. For those who don’t know, Federal Pell Grants are awarded to the undergraduate students who are requiring of the most need, financially speaking. They are also only available for undergraduate students, so those who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. Eligibility will be linked to family size, as well as the federal poverty level.

Paying for College

If you need help paying for college, the FAFSA is where most people should start, as it’s free to fill out and can provide you with the necessary funds to finance your college dreams. Beyond just the FASFA, there are options to help pay for college. Don’t forget that FCU members and family are eligible for scholarships for college-bound students. We’ve also partnered with Sallie Mae® to provide students loans! We encourage you to visit the student loans section of our website for more information.