Several changes have been made to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form for the 2024-25 academic year. According to Director of Financial Aid Nathan Lohr, there are three main changes that will affect students.
The first change, Lohr said, is that the form will now be available sometime in December, when in the past it has been available on Oct. 1 of the year prior to the applicable academic year. An official date has not yet been determined by the U.S. Department of Education.
“Traditionally, the FAFSA is available online on October the first of this year. It won’t be available until sometime in December,” Lohr said. “The Department of Education hasn’t given us an official date yet when it will be available, other than to say sometime in December, students will be able to start filing their FAFSA online.”
According to the Federal Student Aid Office of the Department of Education website, there is a prototype of the 2024-25 form available. According to the website, the prototype simulates the new process of filling out the form but has limitations because it does not collect data in the same way the official FAFSA does.
Lohr said the second big change being made to the FAFSA is the way in which students can fill out the form. In the past, students have been able to fill out every section of their application, including information about their parent or guardian’s income. This year, students will only be able to fill out information about themselves.
“In the past, a student or a parent could log in and answer every question that was on the FAFSA, both for themselves and for the other person,” Lohr said. “This year, students will only be able to provide personal and financial information about themselves, and parents will only be able to provide information about themselves. When students start the FAFSA, they will need to complete their section and then invite a parent to access the FAFSA to complete their part of it.”
According to Lohr, another big change is the way in which the form calculates how much financial aid a student is eligible to receive. He said in the past, the number had been referred to as the estimated family contribution, while it is being called the student aid index in the new form.
“The Department of Education has made some changes to the final number that comes from the FAFSA,” Lohr said. “In the past, when a student completes the FAFSA, they get an expected family contribution or EFC. That’s the number that’s calculated at the end of the FAFSA that we use to help determine what federal and state financial aid a student is eligible for. The EFC is going to be replaced by the SAI, or Student Aid Index. It will work in a similar way to help us determine a student’s financial aid eligibility but the number itself is going to be different and the calculation behind is going to be different also”
According to the Department of Education’s website, the new FAFSA form expands access to Federal Pell Grants. The new form will link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level, incarcerated students will become eligible and lifetime eligibility will be given to students whose school closed while they were enrolled or if the school is found to have misled the student.
Lohr said that although the process of filling out FAFSA will be different for students, he hopes that the changes will make it an easier and quicker process. He said that he is hopeful that even more students at the University of Indianapolis will be able to receive federal aid to help with the costs of school.
“I do think that even though there will be changes to the way that the FAFSA looks and feels for students, the number of questions that they have to answer and the amount of information they have to provide will be less, so we’re hopeful that it will make completing the FAFSA a little quicker for students and a little easier to complete,” Lohr said.
Lohr said he encourages students to fill out the FAFSA application as soon as possible once it is available. He said the Financial Aid office will be in contact with students as the application opens and more information becomes available.
“We encourage students to file the FAFSA as soon as they can, and then monitor their email because we’ll be in touch if there’s any additional information that we need from them to process their aid,” Lohr said.