The Office of Financial Aid notified students on Oct. 16 of new changes to the financial aid process for the 2024-2025 academic year. One of the main changes will be in the availability of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, better known as FAFSA, which will be available at some point during the month of December.

According to the federal Department of Education, the delay is caused in part by “major changes and improvements” coming to the 2024-25 form. The federal government anticipates that the changes will expand eligibility for federal student aid and will result in a more streamlined application process. 

The new process, a result of the FAFSA Simplification Act, will be highlighted by the replacement of the measurement used to determine aid, from the “Expected Family Contribution” to the new “Student Aid Index”. 

The federal government says the new “analysis formula removes the number of family members in college from the calculation, allows a minimum SAI of -1500, and implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants.” According to a Forbes analysis, the removal of the students-in-college question could lead to families with multiple college students receiving less aid for the next school year.

Additionally, the government also announced the new form will remove questions about Selective Service registration and drug convictions while it will now ask respondents to inform their sex, race and ethnicity, which will “have no effect on federal student aid eligibility.” 

While Fairfield students await the new financial aid process, the Office of Financial Aid encouraged students to submit their FAFSA application before the April 15 deadline as “many financial aid funds are often awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Another suggestion from the office is for students to check their emails and NetPartner accounts regularly, as both Fairfield and the federal government will be sending updates regarding the form’s official release date.

New in-house changes include the elimination of the CSS Profile annual submission. 

“In the past, students were required to submit the CSS Profile each year to be considered for institutional need-based grants. However, we understand that this process could be burdensome and time-consuming for many of you,” said the Office of Financial Aid. “In an effort to simplify the financial aid application process, we have made the decision to change our policy. Any need-based tuition grants from Fairfield University that you were awarded in the 2023-2024 academic year, will now be renewed for the 2024-2025 academic year.”

Other financial aid applications, like FAFSA, will still need to be completed on an annual basis.

The official communication ends by restating the university’s commitment to a more transparent process and their hope that “this change in our policy will make the financial aid application process more straightforward and less burdensome” for university students.

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