Thought to Consider

Changes Coming to your Financial Aid Application

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the most widely used financial aid application for colleges and universities in the US and must be completed by any student who wants to receive federal financial aid. It was recently announced that there would be some fairly significant changes to the FAFSA, so we wanted to take a moment to address the changes that are most likely to impact Cannon families.

Before addressing the actual changes, it is important to note that these changes will take effect for the 2023-24 academic year and the adjusted FAFSA will be available in October of 2022. Nothing discussed here will impact you for either the current school year (2020-21) or next school year (2021-22).

The first major change is likely the most welcomed; the new version of the FAFSA will be significantly shorter than the current version. The number of questions is being reduced from 108 to a maximum of 36 (potentially fewer depending on your family’s circumstances). This reduction in questions is done in part by automatically importing income information directly from tax returns. There have been concerns that the long form has hindered completion for some families, so the shortened form should make federal student aid accessible for more students.

The next major change is primarily a change in name only. The current version of the FAFSA is used to calculate a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or the amount the federal government thinks your family is able to pay for a year of college. The name Expected Family Contribution can be confusing for many because it is what the government thinks you are able to pay; the amount a specific college can ask you to contribute can be substantially more than this number if they don’t meet 100% of demonstrated financial need. With the new version of the FAFSA, the EFC will be renamed the Student Aid Index (SAI). Aside from the name, a major difference between the EFC and the SAI is that the lowest possible EFC is $0 whereas the SAI could potentially be negative, allowing colleges to differentiate between families with the most need and allow those students to potentially be eligible for additional grants or loans from sources other than the federal government.

While there are a number of other changes being made, we feel these are the ones most important for the Cannon Community to be aware of. If you have any financial aid related questions, please reach out to your college counselor.