FAFSA Deadlines Rundown for 2023-24

Each year, the FAFSA helps millions of students get aid for college. Learn when FAFSA deadlines are and what changes to expect for 2023-24 and beyond.
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  • The FAFSA for the 2023-24 school year opened Oct. 1, 2022.
  • States and schools maintain their own FAFSA deadlines — check your school's website.
  • The 2023-24 FAFSA includes several major changes.

Each year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, opens Oct. 1.

Students seeking federal financial aid have until June 30 — around a year and a half after the FAFSA open date — to submit the form. Those who fail to file before the end of June will be ineligible to receive federal, state, and institutional aid for that FAFSA's academic year.

In addition to the federal deadline, students should be aware of state and institutional deadlines. States and schools run their own financial aid programs, which usually have deadlines much earlier than June 30.

With multiple deadlines to keep track of, it can be challenging to navigate the U.S. financial aid system. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know in order to submit the FAFSA on time and increase your chances of receiving aid for the 2023-24 school year.

When Is the Federal FAFSA Deadline?

The 2023-24 FAFSA form opened Oct. 1, 2022, and will be available until June 30, 2024. This means that students who need financial aid for the upcoming 2023-24 school year can begin filling out the FAFSA now and will have all the way until summer 2024 to submit it (though the earlier you submit your FAFSA, the better).

Students must submit the FAFSA to qualify for federal student loans, the Pell Grant, and other college and state-issued grants and scholarships. The same applies to college students who plan to apply for federal work-study.

When Are Institutional and State FAFSA Deadlines?

Institutional deadlines vary from school to school but typically come well before federal deadlines. Some colleges and universities offer financial aid on a rolling basis, meaning the earlier you apply, the better your chance of receiving a sizable award package.

If you're considering multiple colleges, check each school's FAFSA deadline (if it has one) and apply by the earliest deadline. Most schools list this information on their financial aid site.

Like schools, each state sets its own FAFSA deadline. These dates are usually early in the spring semester, but that doesn't mean you should wait until then to submit your application. Many states have limited funds and only offer grants, scholarships, and other types of aid until they run out.

This is especially the case for states with deadlines that are as soon as possible after Oct. 1. In other words, you should submit your FAFSA as early as possible to maximize your chances of receiving state-issued and institutional aid.

3 Key Changes to the FAFSA

The Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December 2020 and included several major student aid provisions. The legislation is designed to make higher education more accessible and affordable for underrepresented students and students of color.

Changes will be phased in over time, but some already went into effect on Oct. 1, 2022. Here are three key changes to be aware of.

1. The FAFSA Is Now Shorter and More User-Friendly

Over the last decade, advocates of FAFSA simplification have made strong efforts to reduce the number of questions required to complete the application.

The FAFSA previously contained 108 questions, which many argued deterred students and families from completing the application and receiving the aid for which they qualified.

Starting with the 2023-24 FAFSA, three questions have been removed. These asked about Selective Service registration, drug convictions, and whether a student is male or female.

You'll now see, however, an additional demographic survey that contains questions on gender, race, and ethnicity. These demographic questions will be a required part of the FAFSA beginning with the 2024-25 academic year cycle.

2. Expected Family Contribution Will Be Renamed Student Aid Index for 2024-25

If this term confuses you, you're not alone.

Current FAFSA filers see a section titled Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on their Student Aid Report. The EFC helps schools determine how much financial aid a student is eligible to receive. But due to the misleading name, many families assume the EFC is what they're expected to pay for college.

By renaming the EFC to Student Aid Index (SAI) starting Oct. 1, 2023, the FAFSA will make it clearer that the number a family sees after filing is not the amount they're required to pay for college; rather, it's an indicator of their financial need.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act also makes it possible for a student's SAI to be negative, which can help schools better identify students who require the most financial assistance.

3. Pell Grant Eligibility Will Expand, and the Max Award Will Increase

Perhaps the most significant changes under the act are those made to the federal Pell Grant. Unlike loans, this type of grant doesn't need to be paid back and is normally reserved for undergraduates with the highest demonstrated need.

Under the new act, the Pell Grant will expand to more students and link eligibility to both family size and the federal poverty level. For the 2023-24 school year, students can receive a maximum Pell Grant of $7,395, up from $6,895 in 2022-23.

The act should expand Pell Grant eligibility to a projected 1.7 million more students, including incarcerated students and those convicted of drug-related offenses. Federal Pell Grant lifetime eligibility will also be restored to students whose schools closed while they were enrolled or whose schools were found to have misled them.

Frequently Asked Questions About the FAFSA

Is there an age limit for the FAFSA?

FAFSA does not have an age limit. Whether you're 18 or 88, you are encouraged to apply for FAFSA. Nearly all applicants are eligible for some type of financial assistance.

Does parents’ income affect the FAFSA?

If you are considered a dependent student, your parents' income helps determine your FAFSA award. You are a dependent student under FAFSA if you:

  • are under 24 years old;
  • are not married;
  • do not claim any children or dependents; or,
  • are not an orphan or legally emancipated from your parents.

How is FAFSA money paid?

Typically, FAFSA is determined for the academic year, and aid is distributed once per term. If you are at a school that uses trimesters, you may receive your FAFSA money in three chunks. If you are at a school with a semester system, you may receive your money twice a year.

FAFSA is usually applied to your tuition and fees through your college first. Any additional money may be dispersed to you through direct deposit or a check.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute professional financial advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Readers of this website should contact a professional advisor before making decisions about financial issues.