After a bumpy rollout, the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid — colloquially known as the FAFSA — is open for business.
Due to a once-in-a-generation overhaul that the aid application underwent last year, the FAFSA, which typically opens annually in October, did not launch until Dec. 30, 2023.
“We’re excited that the process will be simpler and more streamlined for most students and families, but the significant overhaul of the process is proving challenging,” said Jennifer Cosens, Transylvania’s director of financial aid.
During the FAFSA’s “soft launch” period, the application was available periodically but frequently went down for maintenance and to address issues as they were identified. “After a rocky start, the 2024-25 FAFSA is now expected to be available 24/7, but it does still have a few issues that are being worked out, as any new process might,” Cosens said.
One of those issues is the transmission of FAFSA data from the Department of Education to colleges and universities. During the initial launch, Transylvania — like all other institutions of higher education — will not be able to access students’ FAFSAs or view summary data from the application. The Department of Education projects that colleges and universities will begin to receive 2024-25 FAFSA data near the end of the month.
For that reason, Cosens and her team recommend that students and their families wait until mid-January to complete the 2024-25 FAFSA.
“We encourage graduating high school seniors to complete it sometime in January 2024, but because colleges and universities are not expected to begin receiving students’ FAFSA data until sometime in February, there is no reason to rush to complete it immediately,” Cosens added.
Students who need FAFSA information for a scholarship application prior to late January should reach out to the organization sponsoring the scholarship for updated guidance.
While students wait for the new FAFSA to stabilize, Cosens recommends reviewing Federal Student Aid’s 2024-25 FAFSA Help page to answer any questions they might have about the updated process. She suggests paying special attention to the information about the FSA ID and who is considered a parent for the purposes of the FAFSA in situations involving marital separation and divorce.