January 2024 saw the release of the simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Financial aid professionals hope that the new application will make a college education more affordable for more people.
After much anticipation, the streamlined and simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available for students to complete for the 2024-2025 school year. The FAFSA is a requirement for any student who hopes to obtain federal or state financial aid tools such as Pell Grants or Access Missouri.
Cherelle Washington with the Missouri College and Career Attainment Network recently presented to high school and college financial aid professionals during an event at Ozarks Technical Community College. In her talk, Washington highlighted the significant changes to the application.
“The biggest benefit with this new form is that more students are supposed to be eligible for aid,” Washington said. “So, more students should get money to help them get through college.”
While the new FAFSA is streamlined, students and their parents should realize it is not instantaneous.
“Think of the FAFSA as a multi-step process completed over a series of days,” said OTC financial aid professional Stephen Garman. “The keys to success are to start early and be patient.”
The FAFSA involves three key steps.
- Students and parents must complete a Federal Student Aid ID or FSA ID. This document should be completed a few days before the student completes the FAFSA. The FSA ID verifies a student’s identification with the Social Security Administration.
- After the student receives their FSA ID, they can fill out the FAFSA. While much of the information required on the FAFSA can be auto-filled using the Internal Revenue Service’s Data Retrieval Tool, students should have their driver’s license, social security card and 2022 tax returns available if they need information from those documents.
- Once the FAFSA is submitted, students and families should monitor their email in case the Department of Education needs additional data. Also, some colleges a student applied to may ask for more information.
The key is to get started and complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. The financial aid priority deadline for the Access Missouri Grant for the 2024-2025 school year is April 1, 2024
“The goal of the FAFSA is to make higher education accessible to students,” Garman said. “What I hope to see from this new application is that students realize the FAFSA doesn’t have to be difficult or daunting if you come prepared.”