The government spending package passed at the end of 2020 included several provisions to extend federal financial. College access advocates have long campaigned to simplify financial Aid. They hope doing so will encourage more .
According to the dAttainment Network, only about 60% of high school seniors complete a FAFSA. So far this year, those numbers are , and more so for students from historically underrepresented groups, NCAN found.
Many changes advocates have pushed for are now written into law through the spending package and will take effect for the 2023-24. Financial aid offices should sexaminethe policies to determine how they will affect their students and award processes.
The new policies have promising potential for the long term, said Helen Faith, director of theFinancial Aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“The changes to the financial aid application process will open doors that were previously closed or seemed inaccessible to some students,” Faith said, adding that they “represent a net positive for our national economy and security as we provide pathways to education and economic stability for populations that were previously excluded.”
A look at the changes and their impact
The sweeping changes fall into four main categories, and each one is expected to impactform will be much shorter and more straightforward, encouraging more students to complete it and get the aid they qualify for. In addition to reducing the number of questions by about two-thirds, the new FAFSA will not require income data. That information can now be automatically transferred from the applicant’s tax return information directly to the FAFSA, with the applicant’s consent.
“Students often are intimidated by the application, and these changes will simplify the process, which should result in our institutions assisting and serving more students,” said Dena Norris, associate vice chancellor of student financial services at MetropolitanKansas City, Missouri.
Expanded eligibility for Pell Grants. The newPell Grants to incarcerated students and students convicted of drug-related offenses.
Allbelow 175% and single parents below 225% of the federal poverty level should receive a maximum award. According to The Washington Post, these changes will allow 1.7 million top yearly prize.
More predictable financial aid awards. Students andwill have a new tool they can use to estimate their eligibility quickly. It uses the simplified formula for determining aid based on three factors: dependency status, number of parents in the household, and adjusted gross poverty level.
Families wcanplug data about the three criteria into a forthcoming automated tool, which will quickly estimate the aid amount a student might receive. (One notable change: The formula will no longer consider the number ofin the household.)
Students who qualify for aid traditionally saw an Expected Family Contribution in their student aid package. They were rebranding the EFC. Because the figure was not a measurement of what a family could or should pay but rather an indicator of eaid earlyibility, it wasrenamed the Student Aid Index. For the first time, this figure can be harmful — as low as -$1,500 — to help institutions.
Theslightly. While more eligibility than will lose it under the new formula, some middle- and higher-income students could end up paying more, said Jill Dejean, a policy analyst at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.