As the father of twins who recently graduated from college, I can appreciate what you or your parents go through each year as you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA® form. As you know, completing this form can open the door to your higher education dreams by providing federal student grants, work-study funds, and loans. The FAFSA form can also unlock other opportunities for grants and scholarships from states, schools, and private organizations.
Over the years, Federal Student Aid (FSA) has taken steps to make it easier for you to fill out the FAFSA form. For example, we’ve simplified the process so you only see questions that pertain to you, and we continue to partner with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so you and your parents can retrieve tax return information for the FAFSA form. We also made it easier to fill out the form on your mobile device. And, speaking of mobile devices, we continue to update the myStudentAid mobile app, where we guide you through the process with helpful prompts and checklists that remind you about important actions you need to take to apply for federal student aid.
Still, more improvements are coming, and there are big changes ahead. You deserve every opportunity to pursue your higher education dreams, and I promise that FSA will provide you the best possible FAFSA experience. Recent legislation passed by Congress will:
- expand your access to Federal Pell Grants and subsidized loans, including making incarcerated students eligible for Federal Pell Grants;
- change the methodology we use to calculate how much federal student aid you and your family receive;
- improve the exchange of tax data to help you file an accurate FAFSA form; and
- eliminate any negative consequences related to questions about drug convictions and Selective Service registration for federal student aid.
FSA is excited about these changes to create a better FAFSA form both now and in the future!
To deliver on these new opportunities, FSA first needs to update the technology system that the FAFSA form is built on. Believe it or not, the current system is 45 years old, and though we have made it work all these years, it’s just too limited to support these new changes.
As you can see, we’re already hard at work modernizing the FAFSA system. But we’re taking care to ensure you can apply for and receive federal student aid at any point. That’s why we’re breaking up this extensive work into bite-sized pieces. As early as Oct. 1 of this year, some of these improvements will begin to show, and we will add more improvements as soon as we can over time. With each step we take, we’ll always ensure that you remain at the center of our focus.
Our mission is to help you pursue your higher education dreams. And we pledge to keep you updated every step of the way, so you know exactly what to expect from FSA.
Chief Operating Officer
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Federal Student Aid