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10 FAQs to Clear Up FAFSA Confusion

Dec 07, 2023

Everyone has questions about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You are not alone.

When will the FAFSA for Academic Year 2024-25 be available?

The 2024-25 FAFSA will be available in December 2023. Normally, the FAFSA opens on October 1st, but this year, due to changes with the form, it has been delayed. 

Who files the FAFSA?

The student who is applying for financial aid needs to file the FAFSA.

Students need an FSA ID to file the FAFSA. First time FAFSA filers can create their FSA ID by completing the necessary information at this Federal Student Aid site. The FSA ID is like a driver’s license or social security number: you need only one. Students who already have an FSA ID can continue to use their existing number.

This article provides more details on the FAFSA and FSA ID.

What is the deadline to complete the 2024-25 FAFSA? 

There are several deadlines, all of which are different:

  • State deadlines for scholarships and grants provided by a state.
  • College- and university-specific deadlines provided by a school.
  • Federal deadline which is June 30, 2024. 

More details about the different deadlines, including state-specific information, can be found online at

The best advice is for a student to file their FAFSA as early as possible.

What financial information is needed to file the FAFSA? 

Students will need tax returns and information about assets, including bank account and savings information.

The required tax returns are the ones filed two years ago. For example, the 2022 tax returns are needed to file the FAFSA for academic year 2024-25 (the next academic year). The required asset information should be the account balances for the month prior to when the student fills out the FAFSA.

Dependent students will also need tax return and asset information for the “contributor” – that is, the parent(s) or guardian(s) who provided the most financial support for the student over the preceding twelve months.

The FAFSA has an automatic link to the IRS to retrieve the information as long as the taxpayer (the student and contributor) agrees to use that automatic link. 

How much does it cost to file the FAFSA? 

$0. It’s free!!

Is a FAFSA application required to go to college? 

No. It is not required to GO to college. It IS required to be eligible for any federal financial aid, including grants, work-study, and federal student loans.

After filing the FAFSA for the first time, does it need to be filed again in the future?

Yes.  A new FAFSA form submission is required for each academic year that a student seeks financial aid. For undergraduate students, this means filing the FAFSA when first applying to college (usually as a high school senior) and then each subsequent academic year thereafter.

What should a student do if their or their contributor’s income has substantially changed since their tax return was filed?

If the student’s or contributor’s income has changed significantly since the tax return was filed, the student should contact the school’s aid office and let them know that the financial situation has changed. 

Does federal financial aid have to be repaid?

Grants and scholarships do NOT have to be repaid. Work study is a job: money is earned as hours are worked. Subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, and direct PLUS loans DO have to be paid back with interest.

How can eligibility for federal financial aid be estimated before “officially” filing the FAFSA? Is there a FAFSA calculator available? 

With the updated 2024-25 FAFSA, student aid will be calculated via the Student Aid Index (SAI). This free student aid index calculator will estimate a student’s Student Aid Index, which is the measure of how much federal aid a student may be eligible to receive. All students, even those from high-income families, are eligible for some form of financial aid, including Federal Direct Student loans.

For more information about SAI, the FAFSA, and financial aid, please see this article

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