What’s New With the FAFSA?

An Overview of the New FAFSA Changes in 2024

Applying for college can be stressful for students and parents alike. Add in the extra challenge of paying for higher education; it can all feel overwhelming.

Luckily, you’re not alone. High school seniors and their families can turn to guidance counselors, admissions staff, and faculty heads for extra support and guidance on the admissions and financial aid process. And we’ll get you started with the background knowledge you need to enter pre-college meetings with confidence.

One of the most common steps students take to help them obtain funding for their education is applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. The FAFSA is so prevalent, in fact, that at University of Bridgeport, 99% of students receive grants or scholarships to fund their higher education.

Below, we’ll unpack the FAFSA and all of the new FAFSA updates taking place in 2024.

What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the primary sources of financial aid for students and their families. The information from this application determines an individual’s eligibility for financial assistance and puts them in the running to receive $38 billion of financial aid in the form of:

  • Federal grants
  • Merit scholarships
  • Student loans
  • State and school-based aid
  • Work-study opportunities

So it’s a pretty important form! Luckily, these days, the FAFSA can be quickly submitted online. And after completing the FAFSA in 2024, you will have a better idea of your options for paying for college.

Remember to fill out a FAFSA every year you attend college to apply for continuing federal aid.

What’s new with the FAFSA in 2024?

All US citizens and permanent residents, who wish to be considered for government financial support with higher education expenses, must fill out the FAFSA annually to apply for federal financial aid.

First-time and returning applicants alike should be aware of and understand all of the new FAFSA updates, which are improving and streamlining the application process. Seriously, the changes make it easier for us all!

Let’s see what they are in more detail.

Update #1: New deadlines

The new FAFSA 2024-2025 application launched on December 31st, 2023. And the deadline to submit the 2024-2025 form is June 30th, 2025, so students still have some time to get used to the changes.

Keep in mind that some states and colleges have their own deadlines for financial aid, so be sure to check your desired school’s deadlines.

At University of Bridgeport, for example, March 15 was the deadline for Connecticut residents to qualify for state funding for the 2024-2025 school year, and April 1 was University of Bridgeport’s priority FAFSA deadline for 2024-2025.

Update #2: Contributor designation

The term “contributor” is a new FAFSA designation in 2024. This refers to anyone (you, your spouse, your biological or adoptive parent, or your parent’s spouse) who’s asked to provide their information, consent, and approval to have their federal tax information transferred automatically from the IRS into the FAFSA form, and signature on your FAFSA form. Contributors must participate on an applicant’s FAFSA form to determine their eligibility for federal student aid.

Note: Unless they’ve legally adopted you, your grandparents, foster parents, siblings, and aunts and uncles are not considered contributors — even if they helped provide for or raise you, their tax information won’t be necessary to complete the FAFSA.

Dependent students’ parents will be identified as contributors. If parents are married but don’t file taxes jointly, each parent will be designated a contributor. For married independent students, FAFSA will identify the independent student’s spouse as a contributor if students are married but don’t file taxes jointly.

Rest assured, applicants will know if they need to add contributors, as the new FAFSA online form will tell you based on answers to certain questions.

Update #3: Importing tax information

The third new FAFSA update in 2024 involves the International Revenue Service’s (IRS) requirement that applicants and their contributors consent and approve the transfer of applicants’ federal tax information into the FAFSA form.

This new process makes it easier for families to fill out the form as they no longer need to locate their tax returns and manually enter the information.

Contributors must provide consent and approval even if they don’t have a Social Security number (SSN), didn’t file a tax return, or filed a tax return outside the U.S. If you or your contributors don’t provide consent and approval, you won’t be eligible for federal student aid.


Financial aid doesn’t have to be a mystery! Get personalized support from our dedicated Financial Services team.


Update #4: Fewer questions

The new FAFSA application has significantly fewer questions than in previous years. In fact, some students will only need to answer eighteen questions on the new form.

Additionally, students no longer must register for the Selective Service to complete the FAFSA, and drug-related convictions alone no longer disqualify applicants as the question is no longer included.

Update #5: FAFSA financial aid eligibility

In the past, the FAFSA application used the expected family contribution (EFC) to determine a student’s ability to pay for college and the amount of financial aid they can receive.

The new FAFSA, however, has replaced the expected family contribution (EFC) with the student aid index (SAI), which is based on the information that candidates and their contributors include in the FAFSA.

College financial aid offices use this index number to calculate need-based financial aid. Your need will be calculated by subtracting your SAI from the school’s cost of attendance.

With this new formula, candidates can also qualify for additional federal and need-based Pell Grant funds. The grants consider family size, adjusted gross income (AGI), and poverty guidelines.

How to apply for the FAFSA in 2024

Now that you have all the major FAFSA updates for the FAFSA in 2024, it’s time to apply:

  • Step 1: Gather information about yourself and your family, including social security numbers, family size and income, personal income (if any), and a list of colleges you are applying to. With the FAFSA in 2024, applicants can list up to twenty colleges when before they could only list 10.
  • Step 2: Obtain a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID for you and your contributors, and then fill out the student and contributor information, including everyone’s financial information.
  • Step 3: Double-check your information, sign, and submit the FAFSA online to the US Department of Education. They will typically process applications within three to five days if submitted online or within seven to ten days if submitted with a paper application.

There are multiple ways for students and their families to pay for college, but the FAFSA in 2024 is one, if not the most important. Plus, with all the new FAFSA updates, applying for federal financial aid is now more streamlined and beneficial than ever.

Contact us for more information about University of Bridgeport’s financial aid eligibility and opportunities. Together, we can help you qualify for as much financial aid as possible!