By: Heather Hollandsworth, Ed.D, FAS Senior Consultant
As most in higher education know, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is undergoing many changes for the 2024-2025 cycle. Gone are questions that likely had little impact on the federal methodology that determines Pell Grants etc. Gone is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that has been around since at least 1992, according to the New York Times (Lieber, 2020). Of course, the abject confusion that surrounds the FAFSA, EFC, and aid programs has not changed.
Now, with the FAFSA Simplification Act starting in the 2024-2025 cycle, we have a new application that is significantly different than before. Reduced to approximately 46 questions from over 100 previously, the new FAFSA can encourage students to file for financial aid programs. However, there will be many complications….to start:
- Financial aid professionals, students, institutions, and student information systems have a lot of learning to do. Everything will need to change and with that will be a multitude of questions and issues that arise. So, what do we need to do?
- Financial Aid professionals need to be sure to read the documentation that Federal Student Aid or National/Regional/State Associations have released, attend training and webinars, and stay in touch with colleagues as learning from each other in this atmosphere is critical, and we need to be able to create opportunities for students to learn more about the changes and how to file. Those in the financial aid profession are the direct link to the students. They are depending on us to have their back and to reduce the confusion of the changes.
- The FAFSA simplification may lead to an increased demand for support services due to a surge in applicants seeking assistance and guidance from financial aid offices. Financial aid administrators might experience higher demand for one-on-one consultations, workshops, and information sessions as students and families navigate the changes and seek clarification on the modified application process. Managing the increased volume of inquiries while maintaining quality support services could present a challenge to financial aid professionals.
Financial Aid folks are like no other and strive to do their best to ensure students are and can be successful even in a complicated world. They work tirelessly to complete required processes so that students have open access to education. They are the unsung heroes of higher education, now more than ever.
Even though all of this change is stressful, I believe that this is just the transformation we need for financial aid. More students are likely to receive Pell grant than ever before, less questions to answer, and once everyone is comfortable with how the new application will work, subsequent years will be easier to administer.
I encourage everyone to take a deep breath and know that better days are coming. Let us learn together and encourage students to complete the FAFSA, even though it might be frightening right now. It will be worth it in the end.
SOURCE: Lieber, R. (2020, December 30). Fafsa’s expected family contribution is going away. good riddance. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/30/your-money/fafsa-expected-family-contribution.html
Are you facing staffing challenges at your institution that will affect your ability to handle the upcoming federal changes?
Contact FAS today for a quick consultation on how we can help you discover solutions tailored to your unique needs. Reach out at 770.988.9447 or via email at info@FinancialAidServices.org. We look forward to connecting with institutions ready to overcome challenges and elevate their financial aid and student business services.
Financial Aid Services (FAS) has served higher education for over 30 years. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, FAS provides consulting, staffing, processing, and assessment services to assist institutions with improving operational efficiency, student satisfaction, and regulatory compliance in financial aid and student business services. FAS’ accomplished team averages 28 years of experience and has a combined 1,600 years of higher education experience. With clients in 49 states, FAS has successfully served over 1,800 institutions nationwide. The Company’s extensive experience combined with industry-leading expertise and focus on superior client outcomes, enables FAS to deliver lasting results to its clients and the students they serve. Visit www.FinancialAidServices.org for more information.
Contact FAS today for a quick consultation on how we can help you discover solutions tailored to your unique needs. Reach out at 770.988.9447 or via email at info@FinancialAidServices.org.We look forward to connecting with institutions ready to overcome challenges and elevate their financial aid and student business services.