U.S. Department of Education Releases New Data Highlighting How the Simplified, Streamlined, and Redesigned Better FAFSA® Form Will Help Deliver Maximum Pell Grants to 1.5 Million More Students

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U.S. Department of Education Releases New Data Highlighting How the Simplified, Streamlined, and Redesigned Better FAFSA® Form Will Help Deliver Maximum Pell Grants to 1.5 Million More Students

This represents the most significant improvements to the FAFSA form since the Reagan era and will help 610,000 new students access Pell Grants
November 15, 2023

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) today released new state-by-state data and details showing that the simplified, streamlined, and redesigned 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form will help 610,000 new students from low-income backgrounds receive Federal Pell Grants. The new FAFSA form will also help 1.5 million more students receive the maximum Pell Grant – bringing the total number of students eligible for the maximum Pell Grant amount to more than 5.2 million.

The changes to the FAFSA form represent the most ambitious and significant redesign of the processes to apply for federal student aid and the formulas used to determine aid eligibility since the Common Financial Aid Form—the FAFSA form’s predecessor—was introduced in the Reagan era. The updates are a part of the Department’s implementation of the bipartisan FUTURE Act and FAFSA Simplification Act. It is the vision and commitment of the Biden-Harris Administration to deliver a better FAFSA form and experience for students and families. The better FAFSA form will be available for students and parents by Dec. 31, 2023. Because the better FAFSA form is a major transition for students, families, schools, and other partners, the Department looks forward to working with schools, states, and college access organizations to support students and their families.

“When students and families fill out the better FAFSA form, they will find that applying for college financial aid is simpler, easier, and faster than ever before,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The Biden-Harris Administration’s implementation of the Bipartisan FAFSA Simplification Act modernizes an archaic system, simplifies the form, and improves access for underserved students -- representing the most significant overhaul of the federal financial aid application since the Reagan era. These bold changes will ultimately put affordable higher education within reach of more Americans, including 610,000 students from low-income families who will become eligible for Pell Grants for the very first time.”

Expanded Access

The better FAFSA redesign goes well beyond just a new form. Starting with the 2024–25 award year, the better FAFSA form reflects updates to student aid calculations that will extend Pell Grants to more students. Pell Grant eligibility will be linked to family size and the federal poverty level. These changes will help significantly expand access to federal student aid. Approximately 610,000 new students from low-income backgrounds will receive Pell Grants, driven primarily by the changes to these eligibility rules. Moreover, Pell recipients will receive more aid with nearly 1.5 million more students receiving the maximum Pell Grant.

“Pell Grants are a critical lifeline for millions of students and families to attend college or career school and pursue the American dream,” said Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray. “We are deeply committed to making sure students from all backgrounds can easily apply for and receive the federal student aid they need through the better FAFSA form. In every state and the District of Columbia, more students than ever before will benefit from greater access to Pell Grants.”

A state-by-state breakdown of the impacts of the better FAFSA form follows:

 

State

Increase in Number of Pell Recipients

Increase in Number of Maximum Pell Recipients

Alabama

7,941

22,498

Alaska

1,045

2,103

Arizona

29,678

62,897

Arkansas

4,140

11,676

California

59,005

177,362

Colorado

14,128

25,465

Connecticut

5,053

14,951

Delaware

1,612

3,725

District of Columbia

2,468

6,957

Florida

44,810

113,245

Georgia

16,463

49,223

Hawaii

1,881

3,691

Idaho

4,669

9,159

Illinois

21,917

52,902

Indiana

14,175

30,249

Iowa

6,603

13,590

Kansas

6,222

14,018

Kentucky

8,160

18,400

Louisiana

6,770

19,362

Maine

2,579

5,092

Maryland

7,398

20,310

Massachusetts

12,221

25,441

Michigan

19,844

38,031

Minnesota

12,853

29,275

Mississippi

4,625

13,872

Missouri

10,919

24,540

Montana

1,462

3,497

Nebraska

5,685

10,172

Nevada

5,227

10,729

New Hampshire

12,391

24,089

New Jersey

8,802

30,453

New Mexico

3,525

7,370

New York

23,313

75,756

North Carolina

16,489

45,852

North Dakota

1,649

2,837

Ohio

22,567

45,927

Oklahoma

7,550

17,870

Oregon

7,209

15,001

Pennsylvania

18,899

41,774

Rhode Island

2,859

6,096

South Carolina

9,186

19,378

South Dakota

2,007

3,893

Tennessee

14,470

31,590

Texas

51,296

132,667

Utah

20,131

39,049

Vermont

1,292

2,295

Virginia

16,626

37,916

Washington

14,797

23,731

West Virginia

4,960

11,516

Wisconsin

9,993

20,663

Wyoming

832

2,117

Total

610,000

1,489,015

 

A Better FAFSA Form

This overhaul is critical as students and families often struggle to complete the FAFSA form, which may be unfamiliar and confusing. Even simple questions such as, “who is my parent for the FAFSA?” can be difficult to answer. That’s why the Department has embedded a new “Who’s My FAFSA Parent?” wizard to the form to reduce the burden of one of the most frequently asked FAFSA topics for almost 8.6 million dependent students who are asked to answer the question. For the approximately 300,000 students who are experiencing homelessness or are unable to obtain their parents’ income information, because they are not in touch with their parents, they will be able to complete the FAFSA form and receive a provisional eligibility calculation before needing to provide additional documentation.

Millions of students and parents will benefit from the Department’s ongoing efforts to streamline the FAFSA experience—where applicants only see relevant questions, based on the answers they provide. In the 2024–25 FAFSA form, applicants will be able to skip as many as 26 FAFSA questions, depending on their individual circumstances. Some applicants will have to answer as few as 18 questions on the form, down from 103 possible questions on the 2023–24 FAFSA form. This not only saves time and reduces anxiety for students and their families, it means more students will successfully complete the form and get access to federal student aid they deserve and open the doors to a college education.

In March 2023, the Department launched the Better FAFSA Better Future Roadmap that provided a suite of new resources to help students, their families, schools, states, and the college access organizations that support students and families, navigate the revamped FAFSA experience. The resources in the FAFSA Roadmap are far more expansive from prior FAFSA seasons, and many have been released much earlier in the cycle to give our partners as much time as possible to prepare for the form’s launch. Today the Department is announcing further updates to the Roadmap to provide additional support to ready our partners for the 2024–25 FAFSA season.

Helpful Tools and Information for Students and Families

The Department remains committed to ensuring all students receive the federal student aid they need to access higher education and unlock a brighter future. In preparation for the new 2024–25 FAFSA experience, the Department has developed tools and resources to help students and families understand the changes and prepare to apply. These include:

  • Outreach campaign about preparing for the FAFSA launch,
  • Videos and infographics that include a preview of the improved FAFSA experience, and
  • A revised Federal Student Aid Estimator, which provides an estimate of how much federal student aid the student may be eligible to receive.

Support for Postsecondary Schools and State Agencies

The Department will continue to work with our institutional partners to support them in providing students with timely financial aid packages. Since its launch in March 2023, the Better FAFSA Better Future Roadmap has received more than 90,000 visits. The Department has conducted 12 virtual training sessions with a total of more than 60,000 live attendees and thousands of additional recorded views.  There have been more than 80,000 views of guidance the Department has provided to schools about the 2024–25 FAFSA implementation. This work will continue until the full launch of the 2024–25 FAFSA experience. In addition, the Department also will continue to provide targeted support to under-resourced schools through special training sessions and technical assistance, including guidance and training for communicating with vulnerable student populations.

Resources for Counselors, Mentors, and College Access Organizations

The Department will continue to work with partners to ensure we are providing additional resources, such as trainings, guidance documents, and sample files, needed to ensure a successful FAFSA season for students, schools, and partners. To support college access professionals, the Department has launched a “Better FAFSA Better Future” digital Toolkit, that includes many resources, such as videos, factsheets, social media posts, and sample email content. The Department has supported in person training of more than 1,000 college counselors and recently completed a two-day FAFSA “Bootcamp” for parents and college counselors with more than 24,000 registrants.

The Department’s Continued Efforts to Build a Better FAFSA Experience

As of the 2023–24 award year—which started on July 1, 2023—the Department already implemented several changes to the better FAFSA form as part of its ongoing efforts to streamline the form. For example, students who are incarcerated in federal and state penal facilities have regained the ability to receive a Pell Grant, and the Pell Grant lifetime eligibility was restored to students whose school closed while they were enrolled or if the school is found to have misled the student.

As required by statute, the Department completely removed both the drug conviction and the Selective Service questions from the 2023–24 FAFSA form; these questions are no longer considered in determining a student’s eligibility for federal student aid. The Department also implemented changes to the cost of attendance, professional judgment, and independent student statuses for the 2023–24 award year.

Additionally, the Department: