The Department of Education (DOE) announced on March 21 that the FAFSA will be delayed until December for school year 2024-25. This would normally be available on October 1, 2023. It appears the implementation of the FAFSA Simplification is more difficult than expected. The FAFSA Simplification was already delayed a year yet parts have been phased in over the past three years.
The FAFSA date change was part of the DOE’s Implementation of the FAFSA 2024-25 announcement. It included a schedule of resource availability based on the type of FAFSA user. This document is called the FAFSA Better Future Roadmap.
The announcement did not have a specific date in December so it is unclear when it will become available. It is unclear how this will impact the admission process, especially early decision, early action, and rolling admissions.
FAFSA’s Delay Impact on College Admissions
The DOE made a change to the FAFSA process in October 2016. This FAFSA change was related to the Prior Prior decision on which tax information would be used for the FAFSA submission. By using the existing tax data it reduces the pressure families faced to get their financial information to the colleges during the admission process.
The Prior Prior rule allowed families to use the tax information that they would normally have in hand on October 1 and submit that as part of the process. As an example, if we use the 2023-24 school year awards, the tax information for that FAFSA would be 2021 and FAFSA would be available on October 1, 2022. Over the years colleges have taken advantage of this change and made adjustments to their admission and financial aid process.
It is unclear how the colleges will adjust to this FAFSA delay. Since 2017, many colleges had changed their admission process since it allowed them to receive both the college application and the FAFSA much earlier. As a result, they were able to send college admission letters and financial awards much earlier. This delay in the FAFSA availability will most likely result in admission delay decisions from colleges.
Impact on Projecting College Cost
With this delay another problem will occur, families will find it difficult to project their net cost by college. The FAFSA creates a number called the EFC or the new term Student Aid Index. With the final formula not being available, the high school class of 2024 will have an even more difficult time estimating their true cost of college before they submit their application.
The FAFSA calculation changes are significant and are now a blind submission. Most of the financial data will come directly from the IRS directly. Families will be submitting college applications without any idea of what the net cost will be. The PayForED College Cost Analyzer will help students and parents have a better estimate of their net cost and total debt at graduation.
FAFSA Delay Summary
The FAFSA Simplification process is becoming more complex than initially expected. The changes will be impacting students, parents, and colleges significantly. Based on the DOE roadmap, more information will be available over the upcoming months. Listed below is the consumer DOE timeline For FAFSA 2024-25.
FAFSA Simplification Update Chart for Students and Families – FAFSA 2024-25