How Financial Aid Works
For most students planning to attend college or career school, financial aid is essential. We’ll walk you through how financial aid works, resources to pay for college, and loan repayment options.
Start Planning Early
Plan how to pay for college before you start. Ask school counselors and the college financial aid office about state, college, and nonprofit grants and scholarships you can apply for. Be sure to meet application deadlines. Start saving before you get to college. Consider prepaid tuition and education savings (529) plans.
Fill Out the FAFSA® Form
Before each year of college, apply for federal grants, work-study, and loans with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Your college uses your FAFSA data to determine your federal aid eligibility. Many states and colleges use FAFSA data to award their own aid. After submission, you’ll receive your Student Aid Report.
Review Your Aid Offer
Your aid offer explains the types and amounts of aid a college is offering you, and your expected costs for the year. If you’ve been accepted to multiple colleges, compare the costs and aid offers. Accept the aid from the school that’s best for you and inform them of other sources of aid (such as scholarships) you expect to receive.
Important Updates to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2024-2025 Academic Year
In 2020, the FAFSA Simplification Act was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The FAFSA Simplification Act represents a significant overhaul of federal student aid, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, need analysis, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in the Title IV programs.
The 2024-2025 FAFSA will be available in December 2023. The exact date has not yet been released by the Department of Education.
We will continue to update this webpage as we receive more information from the Department of Education.
Changes to the FAFSA:
The number of questions on the FAFSA has decreased from over 100 to less than 50.
The EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) is now the Student Aid Index (SAI).
Students can list up to 20 schools on their FAFSA via the online application.
Applicants will be asked to report their sex, race, and ethnicity on the FAFSA itself, but students will be offered a choice of “Prefer Not to Answer”. Schools and states won’t see responses to these questions on the FAFSA.
The Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) has been renamed the Federal Taxpayer Information (FTI)
Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents will now need to provide their consent in the new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information section of the FAFSA for federal student aid eligibility.
This consent will allow the IRS to share FTI.
If any party to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed. However, a Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated.
Changes to Calculating Your Aid Eligibility:
Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, and they will experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid.
The new need analysis formula:
removes the number of family members in college from the calculation
allows a minimum SAI of -$1,500
implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grant.
Child support received will be included in assets and not as untaxed income.
Families who own a small business/farm that also serves as primary residence will now have assets of that business/farm considered in their need analysis calculation.
Visit the FAFSA webpage for deadline information HERE