Free Application for Federal Student Aid Opens for 2023–24 Applicants – Investopedia
As of today, Oct. 1, 2022, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available for the 2023–24 academic year. Both incoming and current students will have until June 30, 2024, to submit their completed FAFSA form. Additionally, legislation passed in 2021 means that the FAFSA will be different for this academic year.
Here's what to know.
The FAFSA is what the United States Department of Education uses to determine your eligibility for financial aid. As part of the application, you will need to provide your Social Security number (SSN); your driver’s license number (if applicable); your Alien Registration number (if you are not a U.S. citizen); federal tax information, tax documents, or tax returns for yourself and your spouse (if you are married); records of your untaxed income; and information on your other financial assets (including cash, savings and checking account balances, investments, and business/farm assets.). Additionally, if you are a dependent student, you will also need to provide your parents’ SSNs, additional tax documents, untaxed income records, and other financial assets information.
All of this information is utilized by the Education Department when deciding your expected family contribution (EFC) and whether you qualify for need-based financial aid (i.e., Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), direct subsidized loans, Federal Work-Study) and/or non-need-based financial aid (i.e., direct unsubsidized loans, PLUS loans, and Teacher Education Access for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants).
There are effectively three ways to file the FAFSA form:
It costs nothing to fill out the FAFSA form. It’s worth taking the time to complete it even if you believe you’re ineligible for any financial aid, as the information you submit is also used to determine eligibility for non-federal scholarships and grants. Additionally, if a website requires you to pay to fill out the FAFSA, then that isn’t the Federal Student Aid website. Any official government website will have .gov in the URL.
While June 30, 2024, is the federal deadline for submitting your application, some colleges, every state, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, three Oceanian countries, and Guam have set their own individual deadlines for the 2023–24 academic year and/or have additional rules or forms. Before filling out the FAFSA, you should confirm whether your location of residence and the college(s) you're interested in applying to have their own deadlines, which may require checking with your financial aid office and/or administrator. Additionally, some states have a limited amount of financial aid they can award, so the deadline for these states is whenever these funds are depleted.
Generally speaking, you should endeavor to file your FAFSA as soon as possible. That said, you have nearly nine months to complete the form and make any necessary financial updates. So, unless you live in one of the states with limited award funds, there's no real need to worry if you're unable to file on opening day. Also, as it's a Saturday, there's a decent chance many students and families will try to file during this weekend, so the online application may be slower to load today.
Back in December 2021, the U.S. Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act. As a result of this new legislation, a host of changes to the FAFSA are currently slated to take effect in the near future. When the act was passed, the general effective date for these changes was July 1, 2023. This was later pushed back July 1, 2024, meaning the Education Department now has the authority to implement some of FAFSA Simplification Act's provisions “on or after July 1, 2023, but no later than July 1, 2024.”
Some of the most significant of these changes include:
Federal Student Aid. "2023–24 FAFSA® Form on StudentAid.gov Preview Presentation," Page 3.
Federal Student Aid. "FAFSA® Deadlines."
Federal Student Aid. "Filling Out the FAFSA® Form."
Federal Student Aid. "Wondering How the Amount of Your Federal Student Aid Is Determined?"
Federal Student Aid. "myStudentAid Mobile App."
Federal Student Aid. "2023-2024 Free Application for Federal Student Aid," Page 1.
Federal Student Aid. "10 Common FAFSA Mistakes to Avoid."
Congressional Research Service. "The FAFSA Simplification Act," Pages 1–2.
Congressional Research Service. "The FAFSA Simplification Act," Pages 3, 6, 17, 18–20, 22, 24–25.
National Center for Transgender Equality. "Selective Service and Transgender People."
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