Simplified FAFSA form coming, could save students money

It has taken three years but a new form for getting federal financial aid is coming. The form you’re familiar with is called FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You need to fill out this lengthy bit of business before getting a student loan, a scholarship or a grant. 

A form overhaul was approved back in 2020, but it’s just now about ready for prime time. A few headlines: It’s supposed to be more user-friendly; some families with higher incomes than before can be eligible for aid now, but a big, familiar discount will be gone. And the new form will be ready later than what you’re used to.  

The 2020 FAFSA Simplification Act means filling out the form more easily that determines how much aid you get for college. The new form will raise income levels so that more families can qualify for the Pell Grant, which is need-based aid. Both students and parents can have more income than in the past and still be eligible for what is called institutional financial aid. Here’s the not-so-great news. There’s no sibling discount for families. And if you’re not prepared, this will absolutely change your plans for how you will pay for college.

The Brookings Institution can help you calculate your new numbers with an interactive page. It’s worth looking at to see what lies ahead.

This new, updated form is not for this school year, but for students entering college in 2024. Traditionally, FAFSA is online Oct. 1. This year it may not be ready until December. But keep an eye on things because, as always, the aid is on a first-come, first-served basis. This means a shortened time to get it all done for college deadline requirements.