FAFSA to Test Addition of Sex and Race/Ethnicity Questions

The new survey is part of a pilot program to determine if the demographic data should be included on future FAFSA applications.

Published September 7, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
FAFSA to Test Addition of Sex and Race/Ethnicity Questions
Admissions
Photo by Delmaine Donson / E+ / Getty Images

  • These changes are part of the FAFSA Simplification Act, which was passed in 2020.
  • That act aims to expand federal Pell Grant access.
  • Participants can decline to answer if they choose, and answers to those questions will not affect aid eligibility.

Students filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2023-2024 academic year will have the option of providing additional demographic data.

The new survey on sex and race/ethnicity questions is part of a pilot program designed to determine if the U.S. Department of Education (ED) should require such demographic information starting in the 2024-2025 academic year.

FAFSA is the document prospective students must complete if they hope to secure federal financial aid, including student loans, while attending college.

The new demographic survey will be completed by prospective students before they sign and submit the FAFSA— however, participants can decline to answer if they choose. There will be a notice above the survey stating that these questions do not affect aid eligibility.

On Aug. 24, ED sent out a notice that it is requesting demographic information collected from the FAFSA as a part of the FAFSA Simplification Act, passed on Dec. 27, 2020.

The FAFSA Simplification Act amended the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require sex and race/ethnicity information, but Federal Student Aid has decided to use the pilot program to determine permanent implementation of these questions.

The act is a phased approach to changing how the government conducts the federal financial aid process.

It includes changes to the FAFSA form, need analysis, and policies and procedures regarding Title IV participating schools.

Starting in the 2021-2022 academic year, ED removed the requirement for male students to be registered with the Selective Service System to receive federal student aid and terminated consequences affiliated with drug conviction responses on the FAFSA.