Navigating the New Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The landscape of financial aid is undergoing a historic transformation with the introduction of the FAFSA Simplification Act, set to take effect in the 2024–25 academic year. This comprehensive overhaul encompasses changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and various policies that will redefine the application process and aid determination for students.

Key Highlights

Streamlined Application Process 

The FAFSA Simplification Act introduces a simplified application process, reducing the number of questions and making it more user-friendly. This means less time and effort spent on completing the application, allowing students to focus on what matters most – their education.

Enhanced Accessibility 

Accessibility is a cornerstone of the FAFSA Simplification Act. The changes implemented ensure that more students, regardless of their background, can access financial aid resources. This inclusivity aligns with our commitment to providing equal opportunities for all aspiring learners.

Increased Transparency 

Understanding the financial aid process is crucial for students and their families. The FAFSA Simplification Act enhances transparency by providing clearer information about eligibility criteria, aid options, and the overall financial aid landscape. This empowers students to make informed decisions about their educational journey.

What Does This Mean for You?

The 2024-2025 FAFSA® process cycle is different, but the Financial Aid Office is here for you! This web page is intended to keep you updated with the most recent information.

What Is Changing?

2024-2025 FAFSA Release Date

Usually, October 1st the new FAFSA is launched, for 2024-2025 expect the FAFSA® to be available by December 31, 2023. Schools are expected to begin receiving aid eligibility information by the end of January 2024.  This means the college's processing timeline may be delayed.

Say goodbye to "EFC" (expected family contribution) and hello to "SAI" (student aid index)

This number measures the student and/or family’s ability to pay for college. The new need analysis formula allows for a potential SAI as low as -1500 and implements a separate eligibility criterion for determining Federal Pell Grants.

Expanded Access to Federal Pell Grant

  • Expanded eligibility based on family size (not including number in college) and federal poverty level allows for more students to receive Federal Pell Grants
  • Incarcerated students in federal and state penal facilities may be able to receive Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Pell Grant lifetime eligibility is restored to students whose school closed when they were enrolled or if the school is found to have misled the student

Streamlined FAFSA® Form 

Fewer questions are asked, and federal tax data is automatically transferred from the IRS starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA®

New Terminology 

With the 2024-2025 FAFSA® you can expect to see and hear words such as contributor  (anyone who is asked to provide information on the FAFSA® like a parent or spouse) and consent  (each required contributor is required to consent to their information being included on the FAFSA®)

While in some cases the FAFSA simplification could increase some students’ financial aid eligibility, others may see a decrease in aid

What Isn't Changing?

  • The types of aid available to Grays Harbor College students
  • The FAFSA is still required to be submitted every year
  • Dependency status questions that determine if your parent(s) must complete the FAFSA remain the same
  • Tax information from the prior-prior year is still collected.  This means you report 2022 income and assets on the 2024-2025 application.
  • Grays Harbor College financial aid recommended deadlines will not change
  • The questions regarding an applicant's gender, race and ethnicity has no effect on federal student aid eligibility and is collected for statistical purposes only by the Department of Education.  Grays Harbor College will not receive this information from the FAFSA.

How Can You Prepare?

  • Mark your calendars for December 31, 2023 and watch for the 2024-2025 FAFSA release. 
  • Create a FSA ID now if you (or your contributor/parent) do not already have one at  Use this form to keep track of your FSA ID information.
  • Watch what the federal government has to say about FAFSA Simplification in their YouTube Video.
  • See how the FAFSA Simplification changes impact what you may qualify for. Use the Federal Student Aid Estimator to see what you may now be eligible for.

Check back here for the most recent updates!

Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA)

The WASFA is for people who do not file a FAFSA.  In general, a person should complete the WASFA if they are a Washington resident and undocumented or do not qualify for federal financial aid because of their immigration status 

How Is the WASFA Impacted?

  • Create a WASFA account if you do not already have one at  Use this form to keep track of your WASFA account information.
  • Check back here for any changes to the WASFA and state aid. 
  • Follow Washington Student Achievement Council’s WASFA website as well for additional resources. 


Content of website adapted from Spokane Community College and Shoreline Community College (December 2023)