The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently opened a soft launch period for the new version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which focuses on improving accessibility and usability for students and parents while also bolstering financial aid eligibility for low-income families.
By updating the formula that calculates student aid as part of the changes to FAFSA, an estimated additional 610,000 students from low-income backgrounds will be eligible for federal Pell Grants. Another key difference in the new FAFSA form is that it significantly streamlines the process for applicants, evident by the reduction of possible questions from 108 to just 46. This means that, depending on their specific circumstances, some applicants would only need to answer as few as 18 questions, which could take less than 10 minutes, according to ED.
“When students and families fill out the better FAFSA form, they will find that applying for college financial aid is simpler, easier, and faster than ever before,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release. “The Biden-Harris Administration’s implementation of the Bipartisan FAFSA Simplification Act modernizes an archaic system, simplifies the form, and improves access for underserved students.”
Through these revisions to the FAFSA process, students will be able to cast a wider net when seeking financial aid from higher education institutions. Applicants can now send their financial information to up to 20 schools, an increase from 10 under the previous FAFSA version.