What you need to know about changes to the FAFSA process

FAFSA offers funding for scholarships, grants, and work study programs

(InvestigateTV) — Typically, students and their families can begin filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in October, but changes in the application process has delayed its release until December.

Unfortunately, that means students who are applying to college right now won’t know what their financial aid award is until much later.

The College Investor founder Robert Farrington said the government reduced the amount of questions, with the goal of making it easier to apply. It also changes how the government calculates financial aid.

“Previously families used the expected family contribution or the EFC. But this year EFC is gone, and we are now having the Student Aid Index (SAI), which is another way to calculate what you’re going to, you know, supposed to pay for college,” Farrington explained. “But there are major changes in how this is calculated, specifically family size, multiple students are going to be treated differently.”

Farrington said it’s possible to have a negative SAI, which highlights the need for more financial aid.

He also said families who are applying for early admission or early decision might be flying blind.

“So, I really encourage you to choose non-binding college applications this year because you don’t want to be bound to an early decision school and then realize that your financial aid picture is much different because of this FAFSA change,” Farrington said.

To fill out the FAFSA once it opens, simply go to studentaid.gov.

Filling out the FAFSA is completely free and the only way to find out which types of federal and state aid is available.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates the form will take about an hour to fill out.

Rachel DePompa

Rachel DePompa

Rachel DePompa is Director of Investigations and a mid-day anchor for NBC12.