A new FAFSA form projects a 40% increase of Pell Grant eligible students at Boise State 

Illustration by Sydney Smith

The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed by Congress in December 2020 under the title of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Finally, in the 2023 academic year, college-bound individuals and active students can fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) with the new and improved system.

The new and “better” FAFSA should be ready for the public around late December, while the old FAFSA opened on the regular Oct 1. date. 

Updates to the FAFSA include the option for students to list up to 20 colleges to apply, rather than the previous limit of 10. The “better” FAFSA has an option for individuals without social security card numbers to acquire a FAFSA ID, and revamped policies for prospective students who are in foster care or are unhoused. Plus, the form only has 36 questions instead of 108; resulting in a less time-consuming process to fill out.

The National College Attainment Network describes the other noteworthy updates, such as the FAFSA switching to a role-based form with separate student, parent and spouse log-in and questions. Demographic survey questions based on race, gender and ethnicity will be private to the student form and not available for any spouse or parent to view. 

“Answers to these questions will not be used in any way to determine aid eligibility and these responses will not be sent to the state agency or any colleges listed on the form,” as stated on the National College Attainment Network website. 

Changes to the FAFSA project are to be completed around the 2024-25 award year. 

Jenni Kimball, the Idaho State Board of Education’s College and Career Advising Program Manager, discussed the “better” FAFSA also giving more opportunities for Federal Pell Grants. 

“Looking at the new FAFSA formula, they predict about 900,000 more students nationwide, so not just in Idaho, but 900,000 students nationwide, will be eligible for those Federal Pell grants that don’t have to be paid back and help students pay for their education,” Kimball said. “Just knowing that there’s going to be more access to Pell Grants and more students are going to be eligible for that money really makes me excited for Idaho students.” 

In an interview with Associate Director of Client Services Financial Aid and Scholarships, Jordyn Creighton mentioned the steps students can take to prepare for the new FAFSA by keeping an eye out for updates and emails, creating an FSA ID and working on scholarship applications through the Boise State scholarship portal.

“Completing the FAFSA will be more important than ever,” Creighton said. “Because at Boise State, we are predicting an upward or up to a 40% increase in Pell Grant eligible students.”

Other major changes to the system are that parents or guardians without social security numbers can create a FAFSA ID and financial aid contributors have to answer a set of questions outside of the student’s account.

“Now the parent will actually have to log in and answer questions. So that’s going to look a little bit different for the students,” Creighton said. 

Students will also have access to a new tool allowing them to keep record of who in their support system has completed or signed their parts of the FAFSA.

“The students will have access to something that’s called a student center (not to be confused with their my Boise State students center) where they can actually track whether everyone who needs to find the FAFSA has actually signed that. So that will be helpful so they can at least see where it is to make sure that their family members are doing their part,” Creighton said.

The Federal Student Aid Estimator on the FAFSA website calculates how much aid an individual might receive for an academic year. It is recommended to use the estimator before applying for federal aid to clarify the options of an individual for funding.

“Anyone who’s in college right now, who’s planning on being in college again next year, would want to fill out the 24-25 FAFSA, and it is not open yet because they’re still finalizing all the details for that new FAFSA,” Kimball said. “So, those students are most likely going to want to start filling out that 24-25 FAFSA in January. So students might go to the FAFSA website right now and they’ll see that the 23-24 FAFSA is open, but they don’t want to do that because that’s the year that they’re currently in. They want to do the 24-25 to get money for next year.” 

Creighton mentioned if students have questions or concerns about the FAFSA, to contact the Financial Aid Office for help. 

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