On Thursday the Department of Education (ED) released its first draft of the 2024-25 FAFSA as well as the Incarcerated Applicant Form, for use by students enrolled in Prison Education Programs, and draft output documents. This year’s preview is especially noteworthy because of the significant changes to the application process as a result of the FUTURE Act and the FAFSA Simplification Act.
ED announced earlier this week that the 2024-25 FAFSA would be released sometime in December, an update from prior communications where ED committed to a release in the fourth quarter of 2023.
As in previous years, ED only provides a draft of the paper application, which it estimates fewer than 30,000 applicants (or 0.15%) will actually complete, with the vast majority choosing the online form. It is NASFAA’s understanding, however, that ED is working to add examples of the online user experience to regulations.gov. Watch Today’s News for updates as they come. Previewing the online process is especially important this year because of the major overhaul of the application system.
A number of forms and entities that are part of the FAFSA process will have new names beginning with the 2024-25 aid year. The Student Aid Report will be called the FAFSA Submission Summary, while the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) will retain its name. The Central Processing System will be called the FAFSA Processing System, and FAA Access will be renamed the FAFSA Partner Portal.
On the form itself, students will be presented with several new questions, as required by the FAFSA Simplification Act. Applicants will be asked to report their sex, race, and ethnicity on the FAFSA itself (for 2022-23 these questions were part of a separate student survey), but students will be offered a choice of “Prefer Not to Answer.” Schools and states won’t see responses to these questions on the ISIR.
Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents will also be asked to provide their consent for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to share their Federal Taxpayer Information (FTI) with ED per new authority granted in the FUTURE Act and new requirements established in the FAFSA Simplification Act. Applicants are advised in a new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information (FTI) section of the FAFSA that consent for FTI disclosure is a condition of student eligibility for federal student aid.
Students will now be able to list up to 20 schools to receive their FAFSA if using the online application, or 10 schools if they choose the paper form.
The paper form has an entirely new look and has undergone a significant reorganization as well, which ED says is to align with the flow of the online form. In addition to the new consent section mentioned above, new sections appear for the student’s spouse and the student’s other parent information (including their consent for FTI disclosure if they filed tax returns separately from the student or the student’s parent).
Missing from the 2024-25 FAFSA is the student housing choice question, which NASFAA recently warned ED will be an issue for schools trying to construct accurate costs of attendance. Also absent are two questions about Federal Work-Study (FWS): one asking students if they are interested in being considered for work-study and the other asking students about taxable earnings from need-based employment programs, such as FWS and need-based employment portions of fellowships and assistantships. Neither is included in the list of questions ED may ask on the FAFSA per the FAFSA Simplification Act, which also prohibits ED from asking additional questions on the FAFSA. ED recently released a request for comments on a new data collection for institutions to report FWS earnings in the absence of this data that was previously reported by applicants themselves. While the number of students enrolled in college remains on the FAFSA, the SAI will not take this information into account.
NASFAA encourages members to carefully review the 2024-25 FAFSA and related documents in light of the many changes to the FAFSA and output documents. We also encourage you to submit comments to ED as soon as possible, and to share your comments and questions with NASFAA by March 31, 2023 to [email protected].
Thursday’s draft FAFSA is open for 60 days of public comment, closing on May 23, 2023. ED will review the feedback it receives from this initial comment period to inform revisions to the form with a subsequent 30-day comment period, after which a final draft will be released sometime in December 2023.
Publication Date: 3/24/2023