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Ring in the New Year with the Better FAFSA, Updates and Resources for 2024

We are now less than one month away from the opening of the Better FAFSA!

Author: Alessandra Cipriani-Detres, Program Associate, National College Attainment Network (NCAN)

You may have seen Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) announcement that the FAFSA will open by December 31 this year. While this wasn’t necessarily new news and implies that the FAFSA could open before the end of the year, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) recommends practitioners use December 31 as the effective opening date for planning purposes.

See other important information that FSA released below:

  • NCAN estimates students will begin to hear about their financial aid offers from colleges and universities in mid- to late-February at the earliest. Institutions of higher education will not begin to receive Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) until late January which will then require several weeks to load the data, test systems, and generate aid offers.
  • Applicants in Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont will fill out the FAFSA and their state financial aid applications separately. Direct connections to state financial aid applications will not be available this FAFSA cycle but will return with the 2025-2026 FAFSA.
  • Institutional corrections and paper FAFSAs will begin to be processed in February.

laptops with fafsa webpages pulled upThere are still many unknowns related to this year’s FAFSA. For this reason, it is especially important that NCAN supports its members and the field with the tools and resources necessary to support students and families. Check out these NCAN resources available to you and your colleagues:

  • Better FAFSA Training Toolkit – This toolkit contains webinars, how-to articles, infographics, and fact sheets from NCAN, our partners, and FSA. Some examples include Better FAFSA training slide decks, resources and tools for practitioners and students/families, and a FAFSA prep checklist in Spanish.
  • Tools and Resources to Help You Prepare for the Better FAFSA – This page contains even more resources such as Frequently Asked Questions, FAFSA training opportunities, a state policy toolkit, and an awareness toolkit.
  • Getting Reading for the Better FAFSA Webinars (December 4 & January 5, 1-3pm ET) – Each webinar includes a line-by-line review of the new form, updates to the FSA ID process for those without Social Security Numbers, reviewing the FAFSA Submission Summary (formerly the Student Aid Report), and the status of tools and resources available from FSA and NCAN.
  • Monthly FAFSA Reminders – This monthly FAFSA reminder email highlights the FAFSA supports your team should be working on and offers resources based on the time of the school year. Sign up to get these reminders in your inbox here!

Given that this FAFSA cycle has been filled with unknowns, we want to hear from you! How is your FAFSA completion practice going to shift this year? Do you have approaches you want to share with the field? Are there strategies you’ve implemented that you would like to share with your peers? Let us know by reaching out to Bill DeBaun (debaunb@ncan.org) and Alessandra Cipriani-Detres (alessandra@ncan.org).