New FAFSA Officially Launches, Now Available 24/7
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
- Students can now access the FAFSA anytime to qualify for financial aid.
- The Department of Education previously soft-launched the application in late December.
- This new FAFSA form features fewer questions and should be quicker to complete.
The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form officially launched Monday after a brief “soft launch” period.
The 2024-25 FAFSA is finally available 24/7 to all current and future college students looking to complete the form to access federal, state, or institutional financial aid. This marks the first year of the so-called Simplified FAFSA, which slashed the number of questions students must answer to complete their application.
With the Better FAFSA now live 24/7, we are moving the federal financial aid application into the 21st century and in the process, putting affordable higher education within the reach of 610,000 students from families with low incomes who will now be eligible for Pell Grants for the very first time, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
Bill DeBaun, senior director of data and strategic initiatives at the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), told BestColleges that the previous FAFSA asked students to answer over 100 questions to complete the form. Now, most students will only have to answer 36 questions, depending on their circumstances.
That difference could help make up for the FAFSA's delayed launch.
The Department of Education (ED) typically releases the FAFSA on Oct. 1 each year. However, the department needed more time to finalize this Simplified FAFSA form, so it didn’t soft launch the FAFSA until Dec. 30.
During that soft launch period, students reported issues accessing the form due to blackout times. Those who could access the form reported glitches and other issues with filling out the application.
DeBaun said that in past years, approximately 50% of high school seniors completed their FAFSA between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. Those applications will now be pushed to the spring, along with all the other typical applications that ED and institutions would have to process then.
We have pushed a sizable amount of work into January and February, and that puts a lot more strain on the system, he said.
New efficiencies in the Simplified FAFSA could compensate for those delays, but only time will tell whether that'll hold true.
ED said that as of Jan. 8, over 1 million students had submitted their FAFSA.
The department added that it won't share applicant data with institutions until late January, placing even more pressure on college financial aid offices nationwide.