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FAFSA 2024 Requirements: Who Qualifies

FAFSA requirements

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updated: June 27, 2024

If you’re in college or planning to go soon, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a smart move. The FAFSA collects financial and personal information to assess federal and state financial aid eligibility, and the U.S. Department of Education recently revamped it for the 2024-2025 school year.

Applicants must meet specific FAFSA requirements to qualify for government financial aid to pay for college. These requirements include citizenship, education level, enrollment status, financial need, academic performance, and other criteria. Understanding these requirements and the information needed to complete the form can streamline the process.

What do you need for the FAFSA?

To complete the FAFSA, you must provide specific personal and financial information. The process starts by creating a federal student aid (FSA) ID. Your FSA ID includes a username and password that you'll use to log into the Federal Student Aid website to fill out the FAFSA.

Here’s the information required by the Department of Education to fill out the 2024-2025 FAFSA form:

  • Social Security number or, if you’re not a U.S. citizen, Alien Registration number (A-number).
  • Federal income tax returns (consent is required).
  • Records of child support received.
  • Current savings and checking account balances, as well as any amount of cash on hand.
  • Bank statements.
  • Investment account statements.
  • Net worth of investments, businesses, and farms (if applicable).
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable).

Dependent students must also provide additional information for their parents or legal guardian. Parents must consent to share their personal and financial information and will report similar information as student applicants.

To save time, gather the necessary information and documents before you sit down to fill out the form.

FAFSA 2024-2025 eligibility requirements

Students must meet certain requirements to qualify for financial aid through the federal government. These include:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security number (some exceptions apply).
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Have proof that you qualify to obtain a college or career school education.

In addition, if you’re applying for financial aid from July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025, you must consent to have federal tax information transferred to your FAFSA form. You must also certify by signature that you will only use aid for educational purposes and aren’t in default on a federal student loan or owe money on a federal student grant.

One recent change to the eligibility requirements relates to Selective Service registration. According to the Federal Student Aid website, an applicant’s registration status with Selective Service no longer affects their eligibility for federal student aid.

Depending on your situation and status, you may also need to meet other requirements. The Department of Education has additional eligibility guidelines and restrictions for special circumstances, including non-U.S. citizens, students with intellectual disabilities, and those with criminal convictions.

How much do you have to make to qualify for the FAFSA?

There is no FAFSA income limit; anyone who meets the above basic requirements can fill out the FAFSA. In general, the Department of Education uses a range of factors, including income, to determine eligibility for federal aid.

Certain federal aid programs have income-related requirements, such as Pell Grants and Direct Subsidized Loans. The income-related requirements for both federal aid programs for 2024-2025 are as follows:

Pell Grants

Eligibility and award amounts for Pell Grants are based on your Student Aid Index, cost of attendance, whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, and whether you’re attending school for a full academic year.

Direct Subsidized Loans

Students in financial need may qualify for Direct Subsidized Loans. The Department of Education pays the interest on Direct Subsidized Loans for eligible students while they’re in school at least half time, during the six-month grace period after leaving school, and during periods of deferment. Eligibility and award amounts are based on demonstrated financial need, your cost of attendance, and other financial aid received.

FAFSA Winners and Losers

The recent changes to the FAFSA for the 2024-2025 academic year have altered the financial aid landscape for select borrowers. While some individuals and groups benefit from these changes, others may have difficulty qualifying for as much aid as in the past.

FAFSA winners

  • Students with non-parent contributors. The updated FAFSA form no longer inquires about whether students received money to pay for college from grandparents and other individuals. These contributions were previously treated as untaxed income for the student.
  • Parents with low income but high assets. Changes to the Federal Methodology (FM) formula, the tool used to determine aid eligibility, have allowed more recipients to qualify for Pell Grants.
  • Pell Grant recipients. In addition to more students qualifying for Pell Grants, funding has increased by $3 billion. The maximum Pell Grant award has also increased.

FAFSA losers

  • Families with multiple college students. The new FAFSA no longer offers a significant break in calculated family contribution for families with multiple children in college simultaneously. This change could result in reduced financial aid for such families.
  • Families of divorce. When a student’s parents are divorced, the parent with the highest income must fill out the FAFSA even if the other parent is the one with whom the student lives or who will be supporting them through college.

Why consider the FAFSA?

Filling out the FAFSA is required if you want to be eligible for federal financial aid support. There’s no cost to apply, and, depending on your situation, you could qualify for grants or student loans to help cover the cost of attending college.

Federal student loans come with additional benefits for borrowers not available through private loan providers like Sallie Mae or Earnest. These include loan forgiveness programs, deferment and forbearance options, and several payment plans to help make loan repayment more affordable.

Can you lose FAFSA eligibility?

It’s possible to lose eligibility to fill out the FAFSA and receive federal student aid. Here are some of the reasons you may lose eligibility.

  • You no longer meet the basic eligibility requirements mentioned earlier.
  • You’re currently defaulted on a student loan.
  • You’re not meeting academic progress requirements.
  • The status that qualified you as an eligible noncitizen expired or was revoked.
  • You were incarcerated.
  • You received more federal aid than you were allowed to receive.

In many cases, you can regain eligibility through specific actions and guidelines set forth by the Department of Education.

Common mistakes to avoid when filling out the FAFSA

Your chances of receiving federal student aid improve by avoiding some of these common mistakes applicants make.

Not creating an FSA ID beforehand

Using your FSA ID can take up to three days after creating an account. Waiting to create your FSA until you want to fill out the FAFSA could lead to delays.

Not submitting the FAFSA by the application deadline

The Department of Education sets annual deadlines for submitting the FAFSA, and each state has its own deadline. The best strategy is to fill out your form as soon as it’s available.

Filling in the incorrect information

Even with a simplified form, it’s possible to input incorrect information. Personal information must match the information provided when you created an FSA ID. Because students and parents fill out the FAFSA, it’s easy to mix up the forms or information if you’re not careful.

Listing only one college

Only schools listed on your FAFSA will receive your information. You’re allowed to add up to 10 schools at a time. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. Unless you are 100% certain where you’re going and have been accepted, you should add other schools you’re considering.

Not signing your FAFSA form

Your FAFSA form isn’t complete until it’s signed. Both the student and parent must sign the FAFSA to submit the form and be eligible for financial aid.

TIME Stamp: Pay attention to FAFSA deadlines if you want to be eligible for federal aid

The deadline to submit the FAFSA form for the 2024-2025 academic year is June 30, 2025. However, waiting until the last minute could mean missing out on financial aid opportunities.

Delays in the release of the updated form have caused potential concerns about receiving aid packages in enough time to make informed decisions about school. If you plan to attend school this upcoming academic year, fill out your FAFSA form immediately.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the highest income to qualify for financial aid?

There aren’t specific income requirements needed to qualify for federal student aid. The Department of Education considers various factors based on personal and financial information provided on your FAFSA form.

What disqualifies you from getting financial aid?

You can be disqualified from receiving federal financial aid if you do not meet basic eligibility requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, having a valid Social Security number, being enrolled in an eligible program, and maintaining satisfactory academic progress. Additionally, being in default on federal student loans can also disqualify you.

Is it hard to get approved for federal student aid by using the FAFSA?

Approval for federal student aid via the FAFSA is generally straightforward if you meet the eligibility criteria. However, qualifying for need-based financial aid requires meeting additional requirements.

How do you correct mistakes on the FAFSA form?

Once your FAFSA has been processed, you’ll receive a FAFSA Submission Summary. Review your information looking for any mistakes. If you find any errors, you can correct your FAFSA form online or through a paper form.

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