Mapping Your Future: Five things your institution's administration (and maybe your family too) should know about FAFSA simplification


Five things your institution's administration (and maybe your family too) should know about FAFSA simplification

By Catherine Mueller

November 08, 2023

It's been the focus of our attention for the past few years, but for those who don't work in financial aid, FAFSA simplification is news to them right now.

And I’m sure you’ve had someone from outside of financial aid ask you to explain FAFSA Simplification to them. Or maybe they’ve asked, “what’s all this fuss about?” You may not have said this, but you were probably thinking – “Okay, um, do you have a few hours?”

So, as a former reporter and editor, I’ve tried to think about FAFSA Simplification in headlines and so here’s some you may want to share with others:

  1. This is the biggest change to federal financial aid in 40 years. This includes changes to both processes and policies and therefore requires several changes in the financial aid office, impacting both staff and systems.
  2. Although it is called FAFSA Simplification, the changes are both complicated and time-consuming to implement. Successful implementation requires hours of staff time and attention to detail. In addition, these changes are occurring when there are other major changes (such as new repayment options in the student loan program) and while the staff must carry out all their regular duties.
  3. The 2024-25 FAFSA won’t be available until December. The FAFSA is usually released on October 1 for the following academic year. This year, however, due to the changes, the FAFSA release is delayed until December. This could impact both students and postsecondary institutions. Students may not be engaged in college planning as they might normally be with an October FAFSA release, and they may have trouble meeting an institution’s priority deadline for financial aid. As a result, this could impact enrollment in higher education. To mitigate the impact, college access outreach and FAFSA completion events will be critical.
  4. More students may be eligible for federal need-based financial aid. The need analysis formula is changing and will impact students and families. Increases to the income protection allowance means that more students may be eligible for Pell Grant funding. College access efforts will be critical to ensure that students and families are aware of their possible eligibility for a federal grant and the importance of completing the FAFSA.
  5. Some students may lose their eligibility for need-based financial aid. Changes to the federal financial aid formula mean some students who received a Pell Grant in the past may no longer be eligible for the funding. The 2024-25 FAFSA will require anyone not exempt from providing asset information to report the value of farms and businesses and the number in college will no longer be a factor in the need-analysis formula. Some students and families may look to the postsecondary institution to make up the funding. Without replacement funding, some students may not be able to persist to graduation.

A big portion of jobs in financial aid is communicating with students and families and with our colleagues and administration.

We need to share both the good news and bad news about FAFSA Simplification – now that we have their attention.