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What’s going on with FAFSA?

Students walk past the statue of Louis Moench that stands outside of Lindquist Hall, draped in a Weber State scarf.

It’s that time of year again when post-secondary students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, but this year’s form comes with some changes.

The form, which opened on Oct. 1 every year before, was originally slated to have an opening date of Dec. 31, according to the Department of Education. However, with all of the changes that occurred with this year’s FAFSA, the form was not ready for some students until a few days after the original date.

The biggest change to the FAFSA form is the Student Aid Index which will be replacing the Expected Family Contribution that was calculated in previous years.

“Our Student Aid Index is an index number that’s calculated using the information that you and your contributors provide on the FAFSA form. Your SAI can range anywhere from –1,500 to 999,999. Note that it is not a dollar amount. The SAI replaces the Expected Family Contribution starting in the 2024–25 award year,” the Department of Education said on its website.

Due to the switch from the EFC to the SAI, students who are in the same family may receive different grants and scholarships from their universities or the federal government because it takes the student’s financial situation more into account, rather than just the family’s if that student is considered a dependent.

One factor that will greatly influence a student’s SAI is the addition of “contributors.”

“‘Contributor’ is a new term on the 2024–25 FAFSA form. It refers to anyone (you, your spouse, your biological or adoptive parent, or your parent’s spouse) who’s asked to provide their information, consent and approval to have their federal tax information transferred automatically from the IRS into the FAFSA form and signature on your FAFSA form,” the Department of Education said.

Because of this, the parent/guardian portion of the FAFSA will be different than it has been in previous years. However, contributors must have some sort of legal relation to the student to be added to the FAFSA.

“Unless they’ve legally adopted you, your grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, siblings, and aunts and uncles aren’t considered contributors—even if they helped provide for or raise you,” the Department of Education said.

Another change that will come with the new FAFSA form is that more students will be eligible for Pell Grants, which are funding grants given to students who show “exceptional financial need,” according to the Department of Education.
“Starting in the 2024-25 award year, an estimated 610,000 new students will be eligible for Federal Pell Grant. An additional 1.5 million students will also be eligible to receive a maximum Pell Grant award,” the Department of Education said.

Because Pell Grants are not paid back to the government by the student, the increase in the availability of these grants will provide more students the opportunity to attend college with less debt than they would with just Stafford Loans. The maximum available Pell Grant amount is $7,395.

Another change to FAFSA this year is that students will be emailed their SAI and FAFSA submission summary after their form has been submitted and processed. Though this is not an offer of aid, students will receive those through their institution, it will help students get a better idea of what kind of aid they will be eligible for.

The changes to the FAFSA form do not just affect the students who are receiving aid, it will also affect the institutions the students will be attending.

“The U.S. Department [of Education] delayed schools from receiving the FAFSA applications until after Feb. 1. We are still in the dark since the U.S. Department is still making changes to the application,” Jed Spencer, the executive director of financial aid and scholarships at Weber State University, said.

Because of this, students who have filled out the form early will be in the dark about their financial aid awards for the 2024-25 school year until February, at the very earliest.

The 2024-25 FAFSA is now open to students and the deadline to fill out the form is June 30, 2025.

WSU will host a FAFSA Night on Jan. 24 from 4-7 p.m. in the Shepherd Union building for those who need help with this year’s form. Students who are unable to attend or who have any further questions can reach out to the Financial Aid Office located in the Student Services Building.

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Brisa Odenthal, News editor

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