Delays and Challenges Surrounding the New FAFSA Form for the 2024-25 Academic Year

New FAFSA Form Faces Delays and Technical Issues

A simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available online, although it has encountered significant delays.

However, during its “soft launch,” the new FAFSA form has only been sporadically accessible. According to higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz, it is unlikely that any of the millions of students applying for the 2024-25 academic year have successfully submitted an application.

“I am convinced that nobody has been able to submit the form,” he said.

“Congress required the FAFSA to be available before January 1, 2024. They missed that deadline,” Kantrowitz explained.

“Leading up to and as part of the soft launch, we have identified some minor issues,” stated the U.S. Department of Education. “We are aware of these issues and are working to resolve them.”

In the meantime, Kalman Chany, a financial aid consultant and author of The Princeton Review’s “Paying for College,” advises students and families experiencing access issues to wait.

“They had to have something available even if it wasn’t ready for prime time,” Chany said.

Even if students complete the 2024–25 FAFSA form early this year, the Department of Education has stated that the information will not be sent to schools until late January. Therefore, students have ample time to fill out the form and do not need to rush during the soft launch.

According to Kantrowitz, colleges might still be able to finalize financial aid award offers by late March or early April, but any further delays would be detrimental for families. “Families will not be able to get financial aid offers in a timely manner. Already, students who applied early action or early decision do not have award offers,” he warned.

What’s changed with the new FAFSA

In addition to the adjusted timing, the new FAFSA form now incorporates a calculation called the “Student Aid Index” to estimate a family’s affordability. This change allows more low- and moderate-income students to access federal grants, but it reduces eligibility for wealthier families.

Furthermore, as part of the FAFSA simplification, families will no longer receive special consideration for having multiple children in college simultaneously, eliminating the “sibling discount.”

“They had to have something available even if it wasn’t ready for prime time.”

Kalman Chany

Author of The Princeton Review’s “Paying for College”

Additionally, the new FAFSA currently relies on outdated consumer price index figures from 2020, which do not account for recent inflation. This means that many students “will get less financial aid than they deserve,” according to Kantrowitz.

“It is a significant issue,” he said. “We are talking about thousands of additional dollars that families will have to pay for college.”

Kantrowitz explains that all families of four in this application cycle with an adjusted available income over $35,000 will be affected by the failure to make inflationary adjustments, with middle- and higher-income students being hit the hardest. Lower-income students, whose expected family contribution is already $0, will face less of an impact.

For example, Kantrowitz’s calculations show that a typical family in New York with an adjusted available income of $100,000 could be expected to contribute $12,943 instead of $9,162 toward their annual college costs — a difference of nearly $4,000 in aid.

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