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What 2024 Students Need to Know About the FAFSA Changes June 12, 2024

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In a given year, the federal government via the Department of Education sends out approximately $114.1 billion dollars in federal loans and grants to aspiring college students. These funds help make it possible for students who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend college to gain access to that education.

Needless to say, keeping tabs on the changes that come about each year related to the FAFSA is something that everyone should try to stay on top of. Today, we will take a look at some of the updates to the system that you need to know about. 

No matter if you are considering attending a traditional college or if you are looking to go to a beauty school, you will need to file your FAFSA paperwork if you want financial aid to help get you there. 

Deadlines to be Aware Of 

It is highly important to file your FAFSA paperwork as soon as you are able to do so. The window for doing so begins on December 31, 2023 and runs through June 30, 2025 for the 2024-2025 FAFSA form. That said, there is a limited amount of money available to students, and it is doled out on a first-come, first serve basis. Waiting longer doesn’t do yourself any favors, and you should try to stay on top of your paperwork to ensure that you get yourself as close to the front of the line as possible. 

Consent and Approval Required for IRS Financial Details

You and any contributors to your household income will need to provide consent and approval to have the IRS send over financial information that is key to determining the amount of aid that you will receive. This is true even if you don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN) or if you have filed your taxes outside of the United States. These details are critical to determining the amount of financial aid that you will ultimately receive. 

Signing up for a Account Will be Required

It is now necessary to create an account on the website before you can file a FAFSA form. You need to have this account set up and ready to go ahead of time so you can simply access it and sign any forms and documents required to offer your consent to have tax records sent to the Department of Education. 

Changes to the Formula

There is a specific income formula used to determine if a given student will be eligible for financial aid, and if so, how much. The biggest change that most applicants will notice is how the Student Aid Index (SAI) is calculated. This is a number that is used to help determine how much financial aid one might need to receive to be capable of affording their college experience. 

The SAI number will replace what was previously known as the Expected Family Contribution. This was the old term that the forms used to use to make the same calculation about the amount of aid someone is entitled to. 

Federal Pell Grants are More Plentiful for Some 

There are even more opportunities to obtain Federal Pell Grants for some students than there were in the past. This is critically important becaues Pell Grants do not have to be repaid. They are just money that can be directed used to cover college expenses. The more Pell Grants that one can obtain, the more of their college experience they can have covered without having to pay that money back. Given the high cost of college, it is hardly surprising to learn that many people are looking for the best ways to save money on the experience. 

It is believed that roughly 610,000 new students will be eligible to receive Pell Grants. Also, 1.5 million students will qualify to receive the maximum Pell Grant award for their college expenses. The maximum Pell Grant amount has not yet been announced for the 2024-2025 school year, but the maximum amount for the 2023-2024 school year was $7,395. That is a significant chunk of money that one can use to reduce their overall college bill. 

Are You an Independent or Dependent Student?

Determining whether you are an independent or dependent student is crucial for financial aid purposes. Here are the key factors that define each category:

Independent Students

Independent students typically qualify for more Pell Grants and loans. You are considered an independent student if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • 24 years of age or older
  • Married
  • Have children or other dependents who receive more than half of their support from you
  • Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or currently serving on active duty for purposes other than training
  • Orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court at any time after the age of 13
  • Emancipated minor or in legal guardianship as determined by a court
  • Homeless or at risk of homelessness

Dependent Students

If you are a dependent student, you will need your parents’ tax information to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You are considered a dependent student if:

  • Under 24 years of age
  • Not married
  • Do not have children or other dependents who receive more than half of their support from you
  • Not a veteran or serving on active duty
  • Not an orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court
  • Not an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship
  • Not homeless or at risk of homelessness

Understanding your status helps you navigate the financial aid process more effectively and ensures you receive the appropriate amount of aid for your education.

Great Access to Higher Education for All 

The FAFSA system undergoes updates to ensure that as many people as possible can attend college. If you are interested in attending a beauty school, know that you can fill out the FAFSA form as long as the school meets certain eligibility criteria.

You should certainly fill out your FAFSA forms even if you believe that you might not qualify for any financial aid. You may be surprised by how broad these programs are and how much help is available via the government. Don’t throw in the towel and assume that you aren’t going to get some money thrown your way to help you get to school. The less that you have to pay after you are done, the sooner that you can start building up your net worth and getting rewarded for your hard work. 

Speak with Our Financial Aid Office for Help

If you discover that you have questions or are confused by the FAFSA process, make sure you reach out to our financial aid office. We have people on staff that can help answer those questions for you and lead you to the resources that you need to complete your financial aid forms and make the most of your college experience.

For more information about how you can obtain the resources that you need to help pay for school, please reach out and contact us for more information. We are happy to show you everything that you need to collect the funds necessary to attend!

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