Everything You Need to Know about the FAFSA for 2024

Michael Laine |

One of the most important pieces of the college financing puzzle is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Without the FAFSA, a college student is unlikely to be able to apply for or receive certain types of federal student aid, including federally subsidized student loans and Pell Grants. So, what should you know about the 2024 FAFSA? Here is some information to make the process clearer.

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is the first and arguably the most important step in the college financing process. It gives colleges and universities a picture of a student's finances, allowing them to decide how much aid to extend to the student. The federal government also evaluates the FAFSA when determining what types of Stafford or PLUS loans a student might receive.2

The FAFSA relies on federal income tax information, along with self-disclosed assets. In some cases, the information must come from the student's tax return, the parent's return, and in other cases, both. With this information, students receive a student aid index (SAI) number, which helps determine a student's financial needs regarding college funding. Using these numbers and information about the cost of attending the student's chosen college helps the federal government determine how much aid a student may qualify to receive.

What does the FAFSA require?

Before you fill out the FAFSA, gather some information to have it handy, including the following:

  • Your driver's license number
  • Your prior year's federal income tax return
  • Statements of your assets, including money held in a 529 college savings plan
  • A list of the schools the student is interested in attending. By providing the contact information for these schools, the FAFSA results may be sent directly there, streamlining the aid award process.2

When is the 2024 FAFSA deadline?

Applications for the new 2024-2025 FAFSA become available starting December 2023 and should be completed by June 30, 2025.1

What is new on the 2024-2025 FAFSA?

In 2023, the FAFSA application process received an overhaul to streamline the application process, expand eligibility for federal grant money, and provide funding to more individuals. A new calculation called the student aid index (SAI) replaces the previous expected family contribution (EFC). The SAI calculation is expected to provide a better picture of a student's needs regarding education funding. This, along with changes to the calculation of family size, is expected to offer more Federal Pell Grant funding to students who may have been ineligible in the past.2

What happens if the FAFSA doesn't reflect your current situation?

Because the FAFSA relies on prior tax information, it's not always an accurate reflection of your current circumstances. If you've lost income, gotten a divorce, had a medical emergency, had another child, or run into some major expenses, you may be able to appeal your aid decision or amend your FAFSA to reflect your current situation more accurately.



1 What is the FAFSA Simplification Act?

2 7 Things You Need Before Filling Out the FAFSA® Form


Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by Fresh Finance.

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