In the midst of completing personal essays, SATs, ACTs, and college applications, another item on the to-do list for future undergraduates is submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). By completing this free application, the federal government will then determine how much student applicants qualify for grants, scholarships, and (if necessary) loans for the academic year. For decades, FAFSA has helped lighten the weight of college tuition on many students and parents’ shoulders. Therefore, the changes occurring through the FAFSA Simplification Act (FSA) are crucial for all who depend on financial aid to be aware of.
Modifications to the Form
One of the changes to the FAFSA is a significant cut in questions on the application form. The form originally consisted of 108 questions, which can be overwhelming for any student and parent to fill out. However, this act shortens the form to 36 questions, cutting the form to one-third of what it was.
The questions that the FSA will remove starting on the 2023-2023 award year also lead to significant changes in who is eligible for financial aid. For example, questions regarding the Selective Service registration were removed, thus meaning that cisgender men no longer need to register with the Selective Service to receive federal financial aid. Additionally, questions about drug-related convictions will also be removed. Previously, students who had such charges were disqualified from receiving financial aid. However, because of the FSA, those students will now be eligible to receive financial aid.
Increase in Financial Aid
Not only is there increased eligibility, but some of the changes brought by the FSA will assist low-income households. To start, this act will raise the income cutoff that is used to award the maximum of the Pell Grant. Therefore, students that were just barely ineligible for the maximum in previous years may see changes in their award size.
Students who do not have siblings attending college may receive a greater Pell Grant award and more institutional grant aid. This, according to Philph Levine, a professor of economics at Wellesley College, represents around two-thirds of students.
Siblings in College
Unfortunately, one-third of students with siblings in college may see a drop in their award size. ”For the almost 900,000 students with one sibling in college… they stand to lose almost $3,000 each in institutional grant aid”, says Levine. Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization, created an interactive tool that shows how much students’ financial aid would hypothetically be affected according to family income. According to this tool, siblings from families who have an income higher than $60,000 or more are the ones who may see this negative impact on their financial aid. However, students from low-income families, regardless of how many of their siblings are in college, will not experience any changes in their Pell Grant.
For those who believe their financial aid will be negatively impacted by the FSA, applying for scholarships is a great way to help fund your postsecondary educational career. For assistance in finding scholarships, please visit this link to find available sources.