Federal Student Aid, the agency that administers the FAFSA, announced yesterday that the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, will open by December 31st. This is the latest that the FAFSA is allowed to open this year under federal law.
While the language implies that the FAFSA could open sooner in December, national trade groups are recommending that counselors and families plan on an opening date of December 31st.
Read a full analysis of the announcement by the National College Attainment Network and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
FSA also announced other important delays:
1. While families will be able to submit their FAFSA in January, colleges will not receive the data from student applications until later in January. Colleges will need time to process this data once it arrives. This will likely cause heavy workloads for the colleges and possibly delays in getting financial aid award letters. The National College Attainment Network anticipates that “institutions of higher education will then need multiple weeks to load the data, test systems, and begin to generate financial aid offers, likely reaching students in mid- to late-February at the earliest.”
2. Direct connections to state financial aid applications will not be available this year. This affects applicants in Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. (These connections will return with the 2025-26 FAFSA.) For those who have filled out prior versions of the FAFSA, this means there will be no blue button at the end of the FAFSA taking the student directly to the state financial aid application. State applications will not be auto-filled with federal data for these states as in the past. This will be an inconvenience for families and could cause state aid processing delays.
3. There will also be a delay in the processing of institutional corrections and paper FAFSAs. This will affect families that need to work with colleges to make changes to their forms for any number of reasons. Families that wish to use the paper version of the FAFSA should anticipate delays in getting their application processed.
Read the Announcements and Analysis
Kim Nauer is the founder of UnderstandingFAFSA.org and a higher education expert at The New School. Her latest questions: How does anyone read a financial aid letter? And will this all-new FAFSA in the fall really be simpler?