The FAFSA Opens Today. What Families Need to Know About Applying for Federal Student Aid

"Oct. 1 marks the start of the annual college financial aid application cycle, as families can start filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for next year," Money reports.

...""You want to make sure you’re putting yourself in a position to be considered for the maximum amount of aid you’re eligible for," says Karen McCarthy, director of policy analysis at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Keep in mind that after your FAFSA is processed, you'll get your Expected Family Contribution, an indicator that colleges use to determine financial aid — and an estimate of how much federal aid you may be eligible for. But you won't get a full financial aid offer. That comes later, usually after you've been accepted at a college.

You'll still see questions about the selective service and drug convictions

In the future, students filling out the FAFSA will see a shorter, more straightforward application form, thanks to legislation passed by Congress at the end of 2020. The changes include eliminating several questions on the form, as well as the term Expected Family Contribution, which confuses families since it's not actually what the government is saying you'll pay. The formula is also changing to expand the number of students who are eligible for federal grants and to eliminate a popular break that helps families with multiple children in colleges.

Most of the these, which McCarthy described as "major, major changes," were supposed to take effect ahead of the 2023-24 school year, but they've been pushed back another year.

NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Articles included under the notable headlines section are not written by NASFAA, but rather by external sources. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 10/4/2021

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