Your guide to 2023-2024 FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, opened at the beginning of the month. Elissa Aguayo | Sun News Daily

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is now open for the 2023-2024 school year. 

With smart-logic software used to help students complete the application process in a timely manner, any student can fill out this free online form in less than an hour. This year, students can also expect to see changes to the form along with reasons to apply sooner rather than later.

What is FAFSA?

The FAFSA form is an application used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal student aid. Student aid can come in the form of grants, work-study and loans. 

Eligibility is determined by students who have a financial need, are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, and are enrolled in an eligible degree or program offered by your school. 

Dustin Johnson, associate director of financial aid, said: “Many schools, including Utah Tech University, also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for other state and institution programs. For example, Utah Tech uses this information in determining eligibility for the Trailblazer Promise program as well as the Trailblazer Nation.”

In order to fill out FAFSA this year as a dependent student, students will need access to their 2021 tax information and a copy of their parent’s tax information. If filing as an independent student, parent’s tax information is not needed.  

Jonathan Morrell, director of student support services, said: “Filling out FAFSA is just that simple. It’s just a matter of going in and putting in biographical information and making sure they attach their tax transcript with their parents’ tax transcript.”

For those who have filled out the FAFSA form in the past, completing the application this year will take less time. Information already provided stays in the application, and unless it needs to be updated, students can add in the required documents and answer a few more questions before completing the application. 

What is new with FAFSA? 

As part of the planned phased updates mentioned in the FUTURE Act and FAFSA Simplification Act, changes were made to the 2023-2024 application form. 

For one, questions related to Selective Service registration and drug conviction will not be present on the application or affect student’s eligibility to receive financial aid. 

In addition to the removal of these questions, FAFSA now includes a demographic survey with questions related to gender, ethnicity and race. 

Morrell said another change students can expect to see will be the amount of financial aid available for students increase. 

Why should I fill out FAFSA?

Any and all students are encouraged to apply for FAFSA, even if they are unsure of their eligibility.

“Where the FAFSA is concerned, students have nothing to lose and much to be gained,” Johnson said.  

Because FAFSA can help students pay for college expenses, financial stress students may have can be relieved through the financial aid. There are also many other types of federal student aid and student aid within the state that rely heavily on the completion FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility.

Morrell said receiving a full Pell grant from FAFSA is better than receiving a presidential scholarship because the grant will cover an in-state resident’s tuition, fees and refund money left over. It can also be added on top of any scholarships a student receives. 

When should I fill out FAFSA?

Johnson said there are two major benefits for completing the FAFSA form sooner than later. First, completing it in a timely manner makes filling out the application one less thing to worry about. Second, both the SEOG and Trailblazer Promise are programs with limited funding. Because of this, Utah Tech uses the completion date as one of the determining factors in awarding these funds. 

Completing the FAFSA form early will only aid students in receiving all the possible aid they are eligible for. 

The deadline for completing the 2023-2024 application is June 30, 2023, by 11:59 p.m.

Although the deadline extends past the academic school year, students who wait until the deadline risk their chances of receiving any financial aid. 

Jazmin Jardon, a communications major from Cedar City who already filled out her FAFSA for the 2023-2024 academic school year, said: “FAFSA has been a huge financial help. It is pretty easy to fill out and takes so much weight off my shoulders. I’m really glad I have applied for it.”