College Affordability

FAFSA Tips 2024-25

January 1, 2024

FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA 2024-25 (for the college academic year that starts in Fall 2024) opened December 31, 2023 in a soft launch. This revised form reflects changes to the format and the formula used to calculate eligibility for need-based financial aid. These FAFSA tips will help you finish the form quickly and with less frustration.

FAFSA Tip #1: Have Your FSA ID Ready

Students start the FAFSA, then invite adults as Contributors to provide parental income information. Students and Contributors each need their own FSA ID to complete the form. See the graphic below from the Federal Student Aid site for information on which adults are considered a Contributor.

FAFSA Tip #2: Have Your Financial Info Ready

FASA uses “prior-prior” income information and current asset info. This means the 2024-25 FAFSA will use income information from your 2022 taxes and will also ask about current assets, including bank accounts, investments, and property value.

One big change to the 2024-25 FAFSA is that it asks for a financial value to small businesses and farms at a lower threshold than in the past.

FAFSA Tip #3: Read Carefully

The form uses a smart question format, so you should only see questions that relate to your situation. Read the questions carefully so you know if it’s asking for information from the student or from a Contributor.

Make sure you are using FAFSA Help articles for the correct version of FAFSA.

FAFSA Tip #4: Be patient

The FAFSA should take about an hour to fill out, but the site may be unavailable at times due to high demand and site maintenance. Data won’t be sent to colleges until later in January 2024 March 2024, so if you wait a few days you aren’t behind other families.

My suggestion would be to give it a few days so glitches can be identified and fixed, rather than spending time futilely hitting refresh. But don’t forget to complete it. Colleges have a limited financial aid budget, so sooner is better than later. Aim to submit the FAFSA within a couple weeks of it being available.

Related Article: Want to learn more? Check out the Guide to FAFSA article for more information.