By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter
The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) on Tuesday released a road map outlining delivery dates for 2024-25 FAFSA resources and confirmed that the new FAFSA will be released sometime in December this year.
The road map, which will live on FSA’s FAFSA Simplification Information page, commits to a December 2023 launch date for the 2024-25 FAFSA, and has several iterations meant for institutions and state partners, for counselors and advocates, and for students and families.
“The redesigned FAFSA form is the most ambitious and significant redesign of the federal student aid application and delivery in decades, and will significantly simplify how students, parents, and other educational stakeholders use the FAFSA form starting this year,” FSA’s announcement reads. “The Roadmap outlines the series of resources and tools that will be available over the coming months to individuals who engage with and use the FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid, leading up to the launch of the revamped 2024-25 form, which is on track for December 2023.”
Included in the road map for institutions and state partners, FSA notes that in spring 2023, tools will become available to aid offices to explain the differences between the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the new Student Aid Index (SAI). A crosswalk, comparison case studies, and Pell Grant look-up tables will be provided.
NASFAA President and CEO Justin Draeger praised the announcement from FSA, saying that knowing when the FAFSA will be released will help institutions, states, and college access organizations prepare and plan appropriately.
“The higher education community is gearing up for once-in-a-lifetime changes to how students apply for and receive financial aid,” Draeger said in a statement. “While these myriad improvements may go unnoticed by those who don’t work directly with students, there are a number of behind the scenes updates to systems and processes that are absolutely critical to a smooth transition. We know Federal Student Aid understands the importance of this process and we are pleased they are providing the resources and training necessary for the student aid and college access professionals to fully implement these changes.”
Additionally, the road map states that in April 2023, the “near-final” FAFSA Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) layout will be released to help software developers and states to understand what that layout will look like and prepare for any applicable system updates. Between spring and fall this year, aid offices will also receive policy guidance to ensure they’re compliant with the FAFSA Simplification Act and the FUTURE Act, which includes the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated students, use of federal tax information, homeless youth determination, and FAFSA reporting requirements.
FSA also noted that it will this month release FAFSA specification guides with several volumes on topics such as a summary of changes and implementation schedule of the FAFSA processing system, technical changes to the ISIR layout, technical changes to agency matches, and testing of the web demo system.
There will also be 10 virtual training sessions on the 2024-25 FAFSA this summer for financial aid administrators. Two of the 10 training sessions will be live question-and-answer sessions with FSA. In July 2023, FSA will release sample ISIR datasets for software developers to test their eligibility calculations, and in October, the final ISIR layout will be released.
By December 2023, a demonstration version of the FAFSA for counselors and aid offices will be released that will allow financial aid administrators to display the new FAFSA for educational purposes or when aiding families or students in completing the form. Additionally, FSA announced that it will create two portals — one for questions regarding the road map timeline and another for questions from the FSA trainings.
“FSA is to be commended for developing a robust training plan for the financial aid community that will include specific opportunities for live Q&As from practicing financial aid administrators,” Draeger said in a statement. “We are also glad to see a single portal for all FAFSA-related questions that will include both a single email for roadmap questions and a single email for training questions, which will hopefully streamline incoming questions from the community. Timely answers from FSA will be critical.”
In the road map, FSA states that communication with students and families about the new FAFSA will begin in the summer, and between summer and fall of 2023, online tools for students and families will be available to provide them with an early estimate of their SAI and potential Pell Grant eligibility.
This announcement comes after NASFAA and seven other higher education organizations sent a letter to FSA earlier in March with several recommendations that would help improve the rollout of the 2024-25 FAFSA. Those recommendations included committing to a specific FAFSA release date, releasing a Pell Grant lookup table by May 1, 2023, sending the technical specifications to stakeholders at least eight months in advance of the FAFSA release, and releasing a communications plan about the FAFSA delay, among other things.
“Kudos to the Department for this road map and we look forward to continuing to work with our federal partners in the coming weeks and months, because when we work together, students succeed,” Draeger said.
Stay tuned to Today's News for more coverage on FAFSA simplification.
Publication Date: 3/21/2023
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