Kids and Money: Mark your calendars for December FAFSA release
Steve Rosen Tribune Content Agency
Along with the start of football season comes another early fall tradition — opening day for families to apply for college financial aid.
The Department of Education several years ago began releasing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid on Oct. 1. But not this year.
The new FAFSA for the 2024-25 school year won’t be available until December because of changes — some very complicated — aimed at simplifying the forms, which must be completed in order for students to qualify for loans, scholarships and work-study programs. Among them is reducing the number of questions from 108 to 46 and making it easier to import financial data than in the past.
“I think everybody will appreciate a 58% reduction in time and process,” said Kevin Ladd, a vice president at Scholarships.com.
While the government hasn’t set the specific release date in the final month of 2023, mark your calendars so you’ll be at the starting line.
People are also reading…
The holiday-season start makes it even more imperative for students and parents to tackle the forms as early as possible, even though the final deadline to submit the forms isn’t until June 2025. That’s because some states and colleges set their own deadlines for awarding financial aid, including some in late January and February 2024.
On the other hand, many families may view the December start as a blessing, giving them more time to get organized with tax information and other financials.
Some of the FAFSA restructuring won’t be popular.
For example, the so-called sibling loophole goes away. Families with more than one student in college at the same time will no longer benefit from this scenario, said Mark Kantrowitz, author of “How to Appeal for More College Financial Aid.”
In previous years, extra consideration would be given and more financial aid awarded for families in this situation. The new rule will affect about 60% of applicants, Kantrowitz said.
Both students and parents must create a Student Aid Account to get a Federal Student Aid identification before completing the FAFSA. An FSA ID is an account username and password combination. Filers are advised to allow at least three days to get set up because, in the new process, the Social Security Administration will require verification before tax information can be accessed. Students and parents must log into the FAFSA separately to complete each of their respective sections.The new financial-aid process includes several changes on how appeals for more money will be handled. Most importantly, said Ladd, colleges can no longer have a policy of summarily denying all appeals. Each request must be heard and judged on its own merits.Tuition money paid on behalf of the student to the school will no longer be reported on the FAFSA, nor will workman’s compensation and veteran’s education benefits. “This will allow more aunts, uncles and grandparents to help a student out without a penalty,” said Ladd.The new FAFSA system bars anyone from charging a fee to complete the form. “Parents, don’t be taken in by anyone telling you otherwise,” said Ladd. You can do this yourself.
If filing out the FAFSA is exhausting, keep in mind that you’ll have less time to rest up, because the 2025-26 FAFSA filing season returns to the Oct. 1 start date.
Questions, comments, column ideas? Send an email to [email protected].
Get local news delivered to your inbox!