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The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

Upcoming changes to FAFSA

Andrew Le
COUNTING THE COST: Senior Matthew Morikawa reviews last year’s FAFSA to prepare for this year’s new application opening.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid will be facing major changes for the 2024-25 aid year, as the FSA has changed eligibility requirements and shortened the application process. Current seniors and all graduating years to follow will be impacted by the simplification.

The most direct change has been a significant decrease in questions, with only 36 questions as opposed to the previous 108. The revised FAFSA will also become available in 11 more languages in addition to Spanish and English and allows students to list up to 20 colleges. In its efforts to align more closely with federal income tax returns, FAFSA’s aid requirements for single parents will also become more attainable.

I am hoping this means we will see an increase in applicants since it will be simpler.

— Kathi Smith

“I believe it will be much easier,” college and career specialist Kathi Smith said. “I am hoping this means we will see an increase in applicants since it will be simpler.”

The process of updating FAFSA first began in 2020 when Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act, which redefined the “needs-based” analysis for federal aid eligibility and allowed colleges to access information directly from the IRS, compared to the former model of families manually filling in tax reports.

While the accessibility has been greatly improved, a large portion of Irvine’s demographics will be granted less aid through the new application. The shift from evaluating yearly income to the value of all assets has decreased aid eligibility for upper middle and high-income families. 

“I am disappointed in the changes that will negatively affect the amount of aid our higher-income students will receive,” Smith said. “I am frustrated by the high cost of attending college and the lack of help for these families.”

Additionally, the Expected Family Contribution, a platform formerly used to determine a student’s aid eligibility, will be replaced with the Student Aid Index, which is intended to generate a more accurate cost of tuition for families. However, a major tradeoff with the SAI is the removal of considering siblings who are also paying for college. 

FAFSA typically opens on Oct. 1, but due to the magnitude of the changes, it was pushed back to December for the current Class of 2024. There is plenty of uncertainty around its future, but California has attempted to solidify the process by enforcing a mandate for all graduating seniors to either fill out FAFSA (if eligible) or complete an opt-out form. Students can see Smith in the College and Career Center for more information.

For more clarification about EFC vs SAI: 

Summary of changes: 

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About the Contributors
Jaycee Hendrickson
Jaycee Hendrickson, Sports Editor
Jaycee Hendrickson is a senior and sports editor for the Northwood Howler. While complaining about her lack of sleep, she is probably scrolling on her phone and wondering why she has no time left for schoolwork. Jaycee is never without a drink (send help, it's draining the bank account) and her articles will never be submitted before 11:59 pm on deadline day.
Andrew Le
Andrew Le, Photographer
Andrew Le is a Northwood Junior and a photographer for The Howler. He spends his time trying to catch up on F1 (and watching everyone try to catch up to Max), listening to music, riding bikes, or sleeping.

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