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Media Release: Financial Aid Applications Delayed

2024-25 financial aid applications to open in December, with positive changes for students and families

October 4, 2023

Olympia—Improvements to the financial aid application process have led to a delayed timeline for students and families. High school seniors and others planning to attend college or career training during the 2024-25 school year can begin applying for aid in December 2023. Applications typically open October 1 for people wanting to start college the next fall.

In Washington, there are two ways to apply for financial aid. U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens apply for federal and state aid with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). People who can't file the FAFSA due to immigration status can apply only for state aid with the WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid). Most people should submit a FAFSA to maximize financial aid.

The FAFSA Simplification Act significantly changes how eligibility for federal student aid is determined. FAFSA’s new Student Aid Index (SAI) is intended to reflect students’ costs and financial need more accurately. The U.S. Dept. of Education (DOE) predicts that more people will be eligible for Pell Grants and that the average Pell award amount will increase. Pell Grants provide low-income undergraduate students with money for college that, unlike student loans, doesn’t have to be paid back.

The Act also aims to make the FAFSA application shorter and less complex. Fewer questions will be on the form, and people filling out the form will only see and respond to questions relevant to their specific role—for example as a student or as a parent. With a direct connection to the IRS, families won’t need to enter income information manually; but tax filing isn’t required, so non-filers can still apply.

All of these improvements have led to a delay in the FAFSA’s launch this fall. The DOE has said that applications will become available in December, but no specific date has been announced. This year’s WASFA will open when the FAFSA does, and because it’s based on the FAFSA, it will also be shorter and simpler.

So what can students and families do in the meantime? Each individual who will contribute to completing the FAFSA will need to create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID), with separate FSA IDs for students and their parent(s) or guardian(s). Similarly, WASFA applicants must register for a WASFA account. People should also check with any colleges or training programs they’re interested in to see whether admissions timelines or other deadlines are affected by the FAFSA delay.

Applying for financial aid is a crucial first step toward college and career training. Completing a financial aid application opens up more options for the future. This year, a family of four making up to $112,500 can qualify for grant aid in Washington. Visit the Washington Student Achievement Council’s Plan Your Future page for more information on financial aid and college and career planning.