Jack Reed

12/01/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/01/2023 19:47

Reed Says New Streamlined FAFSA Will Mean Less Paperwork & More Aid for RI Students

December 01, 2023

Reed Says New Streamlined FAFSA Will Mean Less Paperwork & More Aid for RI Students

Changes Reed successfully advocated for will go into effect by Dec. 31 - increasing RI Pell recipients by 2,859 RI students and helping over 6,000 RI students get the maximum Pell Grant

WASHINGTON, DC - Applying for college financial aid is about to get a little bit easier.

Later this month, college financial aid applicants can expect the release of the new, streamlined Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). And U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who worked for over a decade to successfully simplify the key FAFSA form, says it should mean less paperwork and reach more students across Rhode Island for the 2024-25 school year.

By December 31, the U.S. Department of Education plans to go live with the new, simplified FAFSA form. Nationwide, the changes will help an estimated 610,000 more students from low-income backgrounds receive Pell Grants and 1.5 million more students access the maximum Pell Grant -- including 2,859 new students in Rhode Island who are set to receive Pell Grants and 6,096 more set to receive the maximum Pell Grant, which now stands at $7,395 per year. Pell Grant eligibility will be linked to family size and the federal poverty level.

The new law also mandates that the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid use federal tax information received directly from the IRS to calculate Pell Grant eligibility.

The FAFSA is used to help determine a family's ability to pay for college and the amount of need-based federal aid, such as Pell Grants they can receive. It is also the form Rhode Island residents complete to determine eligibility for the Rhode Island Promise and Hope Scholarships, programs that are available to Rhode Island residents attending the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) or Rhode Island College.

"A better, simpler FAFSA is on its way and it should help thousands of families save time and money. I've worked for years to try to make the FAFSA application process more user-friendly so more families can access the financial aid they are qualified for," said Senator Reed, who helped pass the FAFSA Simplification Act as part of the FY 2021 Consolidated Appropriations law (P.L. 116-260). "With fewer questions and enhanced eligibility, this represents a much needed overhaul. I will continue working to make college more affordable and the financial aid process easier for students and families. The recent reforms we made to FAFSA helped remove one of the main barriers to aid, but we still need to spread the word and help more students access critical federal grants and loans."

Reed, who hosts an annual college financial aid workshop for Rhode Island families, says the new FAFSA is being reduced from a cumbersome and complicated 108-question application down to fewer than 20 questions for many applicants. It also offers larger Income Protection Allowances (IPA). An applicant's IPA covers a family's basic daily living expenses, and is excluded from FAFSA's financial aid eligibility formula. Larger IPAs will lower the income students and parents can contribute to college expenses. As a result, it will increase their financial aid eligibility.

Senator Reed says the overhauled FAFSA will also mean that schools must start making more information about their costs of attendance publicly available to students and their families, including fees and other expenses that students may directly or indirectly pay to complete their program of study.

The new FAFSA will be available for students to complete by December 31. The form, along with a summary of FAFSA changes, can be found at www.studentaid.gov. In the meantime, new applicants can create an account and get their FSA ID at https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch to be ready to apply as soon as the FAFSA is available.

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