Free Application for Federal Student Aid Opens for 2023–24 Applicants

Free Application for Federal Student Aid Opens for 2023–24 Applicants

As of today, Oct. 1, 2022, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available for the 2023–24 academic year. Both incoming and current students will have until June 30, 2024, to submit their completed FAFSA form. Additionally, legislation passed in 2021 means that the FAFSA will be different for this academic year.

Here’s what to know.

Key Takeaways

  • As of Oct. 1, 2022, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is open, and both incoming and returning students have until June 30, 2024, to complete it.
  • The FAFSA is what the federal government uses to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid, in addition to what type of aid they might receive.
  • Students can apply for the FAFSA online, print and mail a completed form, or request a form to fill out and mail.
  • In addition to the federal deadline, some colleges and every state have their own unique deadlines for submitting the FAFSA.
  • Due to the passage of the FAFSA Simplification Act, a series of changes to the FAFSA are currently slated to go into effect between July 1, 2023, and July 1, 2024.

How to Apply

The FAFSA is what the United States Department of Education uses to determine your eligibility for financial aid. As part of the application, you will need to provide your Social Security number (SSN); your driver’s license number (if applicable); your Alien Registration number (if you are not a U.S. citizen); federal tax information, tax documents, or tax returns for yourself and your spouse (if you are married); records of your untaxed income; and information on your other financial assets (including cash, savings and checking account balances, investments, and business/farm assets.). Additionally, if you are a dependent student, you will also need to provide your parents’ SSNs, additional tax documents, untaxed income records, and other financial assets information.

All of this information is utilized by the Education Department when deciding your expected family contribution (EFC) and whether you qualify for need-based financial aid (i.e., Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), direct subsidized loans, Federal Work-Study) and/or non-need-based financial aid (i.e., direct unsubsidized loans, PLUS loans, and Teacher Education Access for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants).

There are effectively three ways to file the FAFSA form:

  • Create a FSA ID (if you haven’t already) and log in on Federal Student Aid’s FAFSA webpage to apply online (applicants could previous apply through the myStudentAid mobile app, but this was retired on June 30, 2022).
  • Complete and print the form-fillable 2023–24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), then mail pages three through eight to: Federal Student Aid Programs, P.O. Box 7654, London, KY 40742-7654.
  • Request a print-out of the 2023–24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243); then fill out the form and mail it to the address listed above.

It costs nothing to fill out the FAFSA form. It’s worth taking the time to complete it even if you believe you’re ineligible for any financial aid, as the information you submit is also used to determine eligibility for non-federal scholarships and grants. Additionally, if a website requires you to pay to fill out the FAFSA, then that isn’t the Federal Student Aid website. Any official government website will have .gov in the URL.

What to Keep in Mind

While June 30, 2024, is the federal deadline for submitting your application, some colleges, every state, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, three Oceanian countries, and Guam have set their own individual deadlines for the 2023–24 academic year and/or have additional rules or forms. Before filling out the FAFSA, you should confirm whether your location of residence and the college(s) you’re interested in applying to have their own deadlines, which may require checking with your financial aid office and/or administrator. Additionally, some states have a limited amount of financial aid they can award, so the deadline for these states is whenever these funds are depleted.

Generally speaking, you should endeavor to file your FAFSA as soon as possible. That said, you have nearly nine months to complete the form and make any necessary financial updates. So, unless you live in one of the states with limited award funds, there’s no real need to worry if you’re unable to file on opening day. Also, as it’s a Saturday, there’s a decent chance many students and families will try to file during this weekend, so the online application may be slower to load today.

Potential Differences in 2023–24

Back in December 2021, the U.S. Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act. As a result of this new legislation, a host of changes to the FAFSA are currently slated to take effect in the near future. When the act was passed, the general effective date for these changes was July 1, 2023. This was later pushed back July 1, 2024, meaning the Education Department now has the authority to implement some of FAFSA Simplification Act’s provisions “on or after July 1, 2023, but no later than July 1, 2024.”

Some of the most significant of these changes include:

  • The EFC will be replaced with the Student Aid Index (SAI). While the EFC cannot be lower than $0, the SAI can be as low as -$1,500.
  • The updated FAFSA will have fewer questions for applicants to answer, making the application take less time to complete.
  • The income protection allowance (IPA) levels have been increased, reducing the amount of income used when calculating the SAI.
  • Incarcerated persons in a federal or state penal institution will no longer be prohibited from receiving Pell Grants.
  • Pell Grant eligibility has been restored for students who were previously disqualified for certain situations that were beyond their control.
  • Students who are homeless or have been in foster care will have an easier time qualifying for independent student status.
  • People who are assigned male at birth who fail to register with the Selective Service as well as students convicted for the possession or sale of a controlled substance will no longer be ineligible for federal student aid.
  • Additional details will be provided on how institutions of higher education (IHEs) are to calculate components of cost of attendance (COA) for students in various circumstances.
  • The Subsidized Usage Limit Applies (SULA) requirement, which prevents first-time borrowers from receiving direct loans for a period greater than 150% the published length of the academic program in which they are currently enrolled, will be repealed.