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Mother and daughter looking at a laptop learning why they can't complete the FAFSA October 1.

By now, you’ve probably heard some buzz about the “Better FAFSA” for the 2024-25 academic year and the changes that will be coming when it’s released later this year.  There is no firm opening date yet, but the federal government has indicated it will be sometime in December 2023.  Until then, refer to our blog for some preliminary info and the key changes associated with the 2024-2025 FAFSA.

In addition to the key changes noted in the linked blog, there are several other FAFSA items that will be updated/enhanced/eliminated.  Keep reading for a brief explanation regarding these items and how they will affect students and parents.

Up to 20 schools can be listed.

Prior FAFSAs allowed students to include up to 10 colleges on the form.  The idea here was to keep options open and ensure that all schools being considered received the information they needed to make any school-based financial aid decisions.  That number will be increased to 20.

Translated into more languages.

The 2023-24 FAFSA is available in only two languages: English and Spanish.  The 2024-25 FAFSA will be available in 11 of the most common languages to benefit those who aren’t native English or Spanish speakers.

More factors added to cost of attendance.

Currently, the amount of financial aid a student is eligible for is calculated by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (soon to be Student Aid Index) from the school’s cost of attendance (COA).  The updated FAFSA adjusts the COA to include more guidelines as follows:

  • Colleges must have standard allowances for living expenses whether students live on or off campus or have a meal plan.
  • The cost of obtaining a professional license, certification or other professional credential is no longer limited to a one-time allowance.
  • Private student loans are no longer included in the allowance for loan fees; however, private loans often don’t charge fees as federal loans do.

Discount eliminated for the number of kids in college.

The current FAFSA handling for families with more than one child enrolled in college adjusts the family’s aid by providing a greater benefit for parents with children who may be closer together in age and attending college simultaneously.  New FAFSA legislation has removed this discount, which could significantly affect the family’s SAI.

There are no financial consequences for contributions made by others.

Currently, families are required to report “money received or paid” from others on the student’s behalf on the FAFSA. For example, if grandparents, other relatives, or friends owned a NEST 529 policy indicating the student as beneficiary, the student would need to report the value of that policy on the FAFSA.  Under the new FAFSA, that requirement has been eliminated, which means that any outside financial support to help pay college costs will no longer jeopardize a student’s chances for need-based aid.

Stay informed!

In short, the best way to stay informed on the latest developments with the 2024-25 FAFSA is to sign up for EducationQuest’s FREE Countdown2College email and follow us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and YouTube.  And as always, our college planning experts are ready to provide personal assistance.  Contact our offices in Lincoln, Omaha, Kearney, or Scottsbluff with questions.

By Lori Caffery