How the 2024 FAFSA is Impacting Financial Aid Appeals

Why could this school year be the best year to lobby for more college financial aid?

As highlighted in recent reports in CNBC and Marketwatch, students may find more success with their financial aid appeals this school year. There were some significant changes to the form and the formula of the 2024-2025 FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

These changes can impact a student’s SAI (Student Aid Index), formerly known as the EFC (Expected Family Contribution).  Additionally, the Department of Education identified multiple issues shortly following the delayed soft-launch of the FAFSA. A necessary inflation adjustment then pushed FAFSA processing back to mid-March.

This brings good news: families may have more grounds for a financial aid appeal.

Below are some reasons a student would want to think about appealing their financial aid offer, or correct their FAFSA:

  • The family’s financial circumstances have significantly changed since 2022. For example: the student’s parent was laid-off or lost their job.
  • The changes to the 2024-2025 FAFSA increased the likelihood that families made a mistake on the FAFSA. For example, many rules changed around how to report 529 plans, small businesses, or family farms on the 2024-2025 FAFSA. Families who have these assets may have over-reported the value on the FAFSA!
  • The student experienced a glitch when attempting to file the 2024-2024 FAFSA.
  • The student has divorced or separated parents, and thinks they made an error in selecting the parent contributor.
  • The student has siblings concurrently enrolled in college.
  • The family has financial circumstances that the FAFSA doesn’t ask about.
  • The student receives a better offer from a comparable college.
  • The student has parents without a social security number. These parents are currently unable to make a FSA ID due to the known issue with the online FAFSA®. Due to this issue, the student is unable to complete their FAFSA.

If any of the above applies to a student, writing a financial aid appeal is a great option. However, it’s essential to approach appeals thoughtfully to avoid overwhelming college financial aid offices. All students should consider submitting a single, well-documented, and well-reasoned appeal.

Tip: For most colleges, students must file the FAFSA to have the option of a financial aid appeal. If you are struggling to file your FAFSA, check out these Top Tips To Manage 2024 FAFSA Issues.

How can someone prepare for a successful financial aid appeal/lobby for more aid this academic year? 

Each college has its own deadline and process for filing a financial aid appeal. If a student would like to file a financial aid appeal, they should call or email the financial aid office.

Students should ask questions like:

  • When is the priority deadline for a financial aid appeal?
  • Is the college moving the commitment date back from May 1, 2024?
  • Does the college need any specific documentation, like paystubs or medical bills?
  • What is the timeline for reviewing the appeal?
  • Should the financial aid appeal letter be addressed to a specific person?
  • Does the appeal need to be submitted through a specific medium, like a physical letter or a school portal?

After gathering all of the necessary information, the student should begin preparing their financial aid appeal letter now. Students should utilize tools like Going Merry‘s guided appeal letter template.

Lastly – be kind and respectful. Financial aid offices are very resource-strained, and they have likely thousands of families with similar questions and concerns. Even if the student doesn’t get the answer they were hoping for after appealing, it’s important to show appreciation!

What can a student do while they wait to receive award letters? And what should they do once they receive the letters? 

First, reach out for help if you need it. Students can receive free support from state financial aid agencies, financial aid offices, high school counselors, and Going Merry. We are all here to help! We will do everything we can to keep you up to date on the latest FAFSA news, deadlines, and resolutions.

Second, patience is key. Colleges should start to receive FAFSA® data by mid-March, and they will begin to calculate financial aid awards at that time. Students will likely begin to receive Financial aid award letters in April or May.

Third, students need to stay engaged. Students should continue to:

Above all else – students shouldn’t let cost be the roadblock that stops them from pursuing their education and their dreams!

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Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.

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