Mapping Your Future: Four things to like about the new FAFSA


Four things to like about the new FAFSA

By Catherine Mueller

October 25, 2023

We don't live in a perfect world and FAFSA Simplification may be proof of that.

In an ideal world, we would snap our fingers and FAFSA Simplification would be implemented. Everyone would understand the changes and happiness would abound.

I may be getting carried away here, but with the name “FAFSA Simplification,” it feels like this was supposed to be easy.

While we are all facing some challenges, there are still some things to like (maybe even love) about the new FAFSA. True, some of the “good” changes impact students and families more than professionals. However, these good changes will ultimately impact all of us if it means more students are likely to pursue postsecondary education.

  • The form is shorter. It’s not quite as short as some predicted but many questions that were on the previous FAFSA are no longer asked on the 2024-25 FAFSA. This is in part because the changes rely much more on the data transferred from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and less on untaxed income.
  • With the Direct Data Exchange process, there should be less verification (fingers crossed). Because income information is coming directly from the IRS, there should be less need for verification. That should be a positive for both professionals and students alike.
  • The FAFSA Submission Summary is better than the Student Aid Report (IMHO). Not only is FAFSA Submission Summary a more descriptive name, but it will also have more information about a student’s estimated federal financial aid. That information will help students and parents better plan for college, knowing how much financial aid they could receive and what institutions will be affordable.
  • More students should be eligible for a Pell Grant. Because of changes to the federal financial aid need analysis, more students should be eligible for need-based aid. This will make college more accessible and hopefully has the potential to increase college enrollment.

This list doesn't negate the challenges that professionals will face when FAFSA Simplification is implemented. No doubt, making the complex into something simple for students and parents to understand is a difficult task.

But, somehow in this imperfect world, you make it all look easy.