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Newscast 12:27:2023: Big changes on way for federal college financial aid filing system, with aim towards FAFSA simplification

Western Iowa Tech Community College
Western Iowa Tech Community College

About 18 million families across the nation in recent years have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to determine their child’s eligibility for student financial aid.

By this time of the year as the fall semester ends in many colleges, a lot of motivated families would have already filled out the form by now, as it usually becomes available on October 1. But this year that whole timeline has been thrown out of whack, as the FAFSA application process is delayed as federal workers have sought to simplify the form, as required by a congressional measure in 2020.

College administrators have sought to get a specific date for when the new FAFSA form would be available to families to fill out, but there is nothing more definitive than it will be by Dec. 31. That could make it launching during the time that some college financial aid departments are closed down for holiday breaks.

Karen Wiese, an official from Morningside University, this week said there is still no precise clarity on when the FAFSA will go live. Wiese said the streamlining can be shown in the number of FAFSA questions dropping from about 100 to 46.

Additionally, Merlyn Kathol of Western Iowa Tech Community College, said the Free Application for Federal Student Aid can it be intimidating to people who are filling it out, so he welcomes the streamlined version that’s on the way.

Kathol has some concern the three-month delay could cause FAFSA completion rates to drop, and said there will be a delay from the normal time that colleges send out award letters that explain the financial aid that's coming to individual students.

Still, Kathol said the financial aid department workers in nationwide colleges stand ready to help people navigate the FAFSA completion process.

Click the audio link above to hear the full FAFSA news report.