If you are preparing for post-secondary education, you need to know that the FAFSA is going through some changes this year. The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is where you go to apply for Pell grants, student loans, and also scholarships.
If you are using A+ to attend a community college or trade school, you MUST complete the FAFSA. It is a requirement of A+ eligibility!
Even if you don't think that your family will qualify for grants (free money) or federal student loans (great interest rate), you might be surprised. If nothing else, many colleges and universities have scholarships available, but they need your "Student Aid Index" (the SAI, formerly known as the EFC) to determine your eligibility for their scholarships.
If you and your parent/guardian would like assistance with completing the FAFSA, your school counselors will be planning FAFSA help sessions once we have the release date. You can get ready by creating your FSA-ID at StudentAid.gov
We will be meeting with Seniors to review this, but wanted to provide you with a heads up of some key changes in the FAFSA:
- Fewer Questions: FAFSA is shrinking from 108 questions to a much shorter 46 questions. This is intended to facilitate an easier overall process for students and families.
- Increase in Number of Colleges to Receive FAFSA Information: When completing FAFSA, students select the colleges they would like to receive the information to formulate financial aid offers. Previously, students could only list up to 10 colleges; going forward, students will be able to list up to 20 colleges.
- More Home Language Options: Currently, FAFSA is only available in English and Spanish. The new application will now include the 11 most common home languages spoken by English Language Learners, increasing accessibility for many students and families.
- Automated Data From IRS: The system has streamlined the ability to populate information from the IRS, rather than families having to manually enter the data or use an external data retrieval tool.
- New Funding Formulas: Lower-income families will be eligible for increased aid. The term “Expected Family Contribution” is being replaced by the “Student Aid Index” and can now be a negative number, as low as -1,500 for those with the most financial need.
- Automatic Pell Grants: Students of families making less than 175% of the federal poverty level and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will automatically receive the maximum Pell Grant.
Stay in contact with your school counselor as you continue to plan beyond high school graduation.