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Frequently Asked Questions About the FAFSA Changes

Beginning with the 2024-2025 academic year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has undergone significant changes due to the FAFSA Simplification Act, marking the first major overhaul of the application in over 40 years. These changes aim to bring about a more streamlined process for students and parents and reduce barriers to accessing federal financial aid for their education.

There are some more notable changes to the FAFSA application and process that you may encounter:

1. Will the FAFSA be available when I apply for financial aid for fall early decision (deadline November 15)?
For students applying to Fall Early Decision,  the 2024-2025 FAFSA will not be available until late December 2023. This means that students applying for Fall Early Decision will not be able to submit this piece of their financial aid application by the early decision deadline. This will not impact your ability or eligibility to apply for financial aid at Swarthmore College. Note: The FAFSA deadline has been moved back from January 4, 2024 to January 15, 2024.

2. How will I know if I qualify for federal financial aid? 
Financial Aid will provide you with an initial financial aid award upon completion and submission of all other application requirements. Domestic financial aid applicants will be required to submit the FAFSA as soon as it becomes available. Students will receive a final financial aid award in the spring that includes any federal aid eligibility. A student's total amount of financial aid will not decrease, and the amount that a family may owe will not increase, but the sources of aid may be adjusted to account for any federal financial aid funding a student is eligible to receive based on their FAFSA, as long as there is no conflicting information on the FAFSA.

3. What is different about completing the FAFSA in 2024-25?
The introduction of a new term: contributor. Contributor refers to anyone who is required to provide information as part of a student's FAFSA, such as a parent/stepparent or spouse. Previously, these contributors were referred to as Parent 1 and Parent 2. The way in which a student answers questions in the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information. Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student's education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA or the application will be considered incomplete. If the student is required to included information from contributors in their FAFSA, and does not, the FAFSA will remain incomplete and a calculation for federal aid eligibility cannot occur.

4. What if I have siblings attending college at the same time as I am? 
I understand that the FAFSA no longer considers siblings in college. The FAFSA will no longer take into consideration siblings attending other colleges or universities. This will only impact a student's eligibility for federal financial aid. Swarthmore will continue to include your siblings enrolled in other colleges/universities as part our calculation of your demonstrated need. We use the FAFSA to understand your eligibility for federal aid, but it will not impact our ability to meet 100% of your demonstrated need.

5. I completed my 2024-25 FAFSA when it became available in December.  Why don’t I see it noted as received on my Financial Aid checklist?  
The software patch for this update will arrive soon after the FAFSA changes. We are working with our software provider to be able to update your checklist as quickly as possible. Please be sure you have selected Swarthmore College to receive your FAFSA.