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FAFSA 2024-25 Application is here! Now what?

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VSAC Staff

Date
January 16, 2024

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FAFSA 2024-25 Application is here

If you’re an education professional, student, or parent you’ve we know you’ve been waiting on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) rollout. The FAFSA application is the first step in getting financial aid for college and career training programs. The FAFSA is usually available in October, but due to some recent changes, its availability was pushed back to December 2023. And now that the FAFSA 2024-25 Application is here, we’re also here to guide you through the important steps.  

Filing the FAFSA grants you access to all student aid options, including:

  • Grants (state, federal, and college-based)
  • Scholarships (private, merit organizations)
  • Career-Focused Funding (skilled trades)
  • work-study, and
  • Loans.

The FAFSA is the most important step to getting financial aid that reduces your out-of-pocket college costs. Although students have less time to apply, and financial aid offices have less time to analyze data and make awards, now’s the best time to file your FAFSA 2024-25 application. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

You’re Not Alone

As you’re reading this, and thinking about college planning and finances, you may feel a bit of anxiety. If you’re returning to the FAFSA, the delay took away some of your prep time, which you need because you remember how complicated the process was. Or maybe this is your first time filing, and talking to previous filers about their experience is making you anxious.

We get it. There’s a lot at stake prepping for the cost of education. But set that anxiety aside for the moment because we promise that the FAFSA is totally manageable. In fact, many students and their families have already filed successfully since it opened. So, take a breath, be patient, and read on.  

Why the late release of the FAFSA 2024-25? What’s changed?

In December 2020, lawmakers passed the FAFSA Simplification Act, which changed a form that’s been the same since 1980. Along with Federal Student Aid (FSA) a simpler, faster and better experience for students and families applying for educational aid.

As FSA promised, the FAFSA 2024-25 form is simpler. Here’s how:

  • It collects a student’s financial information through fewer questions. Some filers only need to answer 18 questions.
  • You may be able to skip up to 26 questions depending on your circumstance.
  • You can add more colleges to receive your information.
  • The application is now available in 11 languages.
  • The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is now the Student Aid Index (SAI), to more accurately reflect the amount of financial aid you may be eligible to receive.

The new FAFSA also uses a new method to determine student aid eligibility. Two important changes include using the adjusted value of a family farm or small business when calculating the expected financial contribution from parents. And the new formula also removes the number of family members in college from the eligibility calculation.  

However, eligibility for federal Pell Grants is linked to family size and to the federal poverty level, simplifying the process for families and expanding access to more students. In fact, FSA estimates that more than half a million additional students will qualify for a Pell grant, and of those that qualify, more than 1.5 million will now qualify for the maximum Pell grant amount.

View our two-pager of important FAFSA updates

FAFSA 2024-25 is Here!

FSA opened up the new FAFSA application through a “soft launch.” The application is available for short periods of time while they monitor site performance and functionality. FSA also initiates pauses for site maintenance and to make technical updates as needed. The pauses affect the entire site, and even pause creating a studentaid.gov account (formerly FSA ID). An account is needed to file your FAFSA, and it takes several days before it’s confirmed. But even if your application is in progress and you’re bumped off the site, it’ll be saved during these pauses so you can return to the site and complete your application.  

I’ve been following this – what are the latest updates?

Auto-Saves

If you’re filling out the form and get bounced out of the application, your progress will be saved, and you can return to it later.

Keep Trying

If you’ve already logged on to the FSA website, here’s our most important message: If you’re running into glitches, keep trying. The good news is, more than one million applications were submitted to FSA by Tuesday, January 16, and here at VSAC, our staff and counselors are reporting successful FAFSA submissions daily.

Data Batches

The FAFSA system will report student financial data to schools, state grant offices and scholarship groups in “rounds,” and the first-round report will be sent in late January. It won’t matter whether a student submits a FAFSA on January 11 or January 23; everyone’s information will be transferred during the first round at the same time.  

This “batching” also means that once you submit your form, you won’t be able to update it until your information is processed. Once you hit “submit,” you will not be able to log back in and make corrections or add schools until your form is processed. However, you will have an opportunity to make additions and corrections after your form is processed.  

Once the FSA reports your information to your selected schools in late January, you’ll receive an email, and you’ll be able to access a submission summary through your studentaid.gov account. That summary will also provide final SAI and Pell Grant eligibility, possibly updating the preliminary eligibility information you received when you first submitted your form.

Vermont Grants by VSAC

When you file your FAFSA, VSAC’s Grant program will receive your information if you are a Vermont resident, which is the same as previous years. You can apply for the Vermont Grant now and it will be matched to your FAFSA information once VSAC receives it in late January/early February.  

If you’re interested in other Federal grant programs, including Pell grants, FSEOG grants, TEACH grants, and Iraq & Afghanistan service grants from the U.S. Department of Education, you automatically apply to these programs by filing your FAFSA. So, you may end up qualifying for aid you didn’t even know you were eligible for. That’s why filing the FAFSA is important.

Stay-up-to-date

This article was published on January 16. You may find more recent, day-to-day updates on FSA’s issue alert page for status updates and open issues on the FAFSA. You can also monitor FSA on social media and see their site for soft-launch updates.

Will other financial aid deadlines be delayed too?

Most schools and scholarship programs have maintained their usual deadlines, are planning to award their financial aid and grants on their usual timeline for the academic year.

Because the timelines to deliver financial aid information to institutions may feel crunched this year, we encourage you to beat financial aid deadlines.  

Many of the scholarships VSAC administers require students to apply by March 1, and many require students to submit the FAFSA as part of their application. To meet that deadline, you should be starting your FAFSA now. Also, note the deadline for FAFSA submission for any higher education institutions or training programs you’re applying to.  

Have more questions? Contact US

If you’re just getting started on filling out your FAFSA form, you may want to reference our  8 Important Things to Do Right Now for the FSA 2024-25 earlier, step-by-step blog post with all the details about creating a studentaid.gov account, the filing info that’s typically needed, grants and scholarships, and more.  

Our financial aid counselors are also available for one-on-one filing help – either in-person at our resource center in Winooski, or virtually from the comfort of your computer – from January 11 through March 28. These sessions are offered free of charge, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment! Visit the VSAC calendar to sign up.

Our team members will also offer Forms Nights at select schools.  Check with your high school counseling office to see if or when a forms night is scheduled locally, or visit the VSAC calendar.