Everything You Need To Know About FAFSA 2023-24

Paying for college is one of the most important aspects of any family’s decision on higher education. Many students rely on financial aid to fund their education, and it all starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

Students and families need to complete the FAFSA each year to receive aid for the following school year. It helps to know all of the deadlines and updates for each new year, and there are some significant changes to the FAFSA 2023-24. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about FAFSA 2023-24 deadlines and changes.

When Does FAFSA Open for 2023-24?

The FAFSA 2023-24 application open date is October 1, 2022. It’s best to file as soon as possible, and since the FAFSA 2023-24 application release date falls on a Saturday, it could be a busy opening day. Be patient when loading forms because it may take longer.

When Does FAFSA Close for 2023-24?

Though it’s best to file as early as possible, the federal FAFSA 2023-24 deadline is not until June 30, 2024. Students and families have ample time to complete the forms and make any necessary financial updates along the way.

State Deadlines

June 30, 2024, is the federal deadline for receiving the 2023-24 FAFSA, but some states adopt different application dates. For example, in Arkansas, the FAFSA 2023-24 opens in July 2022 and closes in January 2023. 

Families should check with the school’s financial aid office and their advisors to find out if there are separate FAFSA 2023-2024 application dates.

For more information, check out this FAFSA state deadline guide for the 2023-24 academic year.

College Deadlines

Each college can set individual deadlines for receiving the processed FAFSA. It’s a good idea to contact your chosen college to find out when they need to receive the processed FAFSA 2023-24 application.

How Does FAFSA Work?

The FAFSA is the primary tool for determining a student’s financial aid. Students can qualify for need-based and non-need-based that cover various aid types.

Students must provide information about their income, their family’s income, assets, and family size. This information helps determine the expected family contribution and what aid the student could receive. 

Need-Based Aid

The United States Department of Education reports the need-based aid as being the cost of attendance minus the expected family contribution. Students that qualify for need-based aid might receive the following: 

  • Federal Pell Grant 
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
  • Federal work-study
  • Subsidized loans

For example, if your college education costs $22,000 for the 2023-2024 school year and your expected family contribution is $11,000, your financial need would be $11,000. You would not be eligible for more than $11,000 of need-based financial aid.

Non-Need-Based Aid

Colleges and universities determine the amount of non-need-based aid a student receives based on a slightly different formula. It subtracts all financial aid, including scholarships and grants, from the cost of attendance to determine how much non-need-based financial aid the student qualifies for each year. 

  • Federal PLUS loans
  • Unsubsidized loans
  • Teacher Education Access for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants

Students may also receive state-specific funding if available in their area.

What Tax Year Does FAFSA Use for 2023-2024?

The FAFSA 2023-24 application considers the taxes from 2021.

What Are the Changes to FAFSA 2023-24?

Congress passed legislation in December 2021 that will impact the FAFSA for 2023-24 as the government tries to overhaul and improve the system. Many components take effect July 1, 2023, making them part of the 2023-24 FAFSA application.

  • Instead of a grueling 108-question application, the FAFSA 2023-24 application cannot have more than 36 questions.
  • The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is now the Student Aid Index (SAI). This name change aims to better reflect the calculation’s intention.
  • The “income protection allowance” excludes a portion of parent and student income from the calculation to increase the chances of receiving aid.
  • Male students no longer have to register for Selective Service to receive federal aid.
  • Institutions must provide a breakdown of the entire cost of attendance on their websites.
  • There is no longer a limitation on subsidized loan eligibility. The Subsidized Usage Limit Applies (SULA) requirement is used to prevent students from receiving Direct Loans over 150% of their program’s length.

Another massive change provides foresight for students and families by allowing them to look up their eligibility sooner. You can now find out if you’re eligible before submitting your FAFSA application.

Finally, the changes offer opportunities to many students who previously didn’t qualify for funding or had an overly challenging process. 

  • Incarcerated students can once again receive Pell Grants.
  • Students with past drug-related convictions can now receive federal financial aid.
  • Opens the door to some students who were disqualified from Pell Grant eligibility due to specific issues. For example, those students whose schools closed before they could complete their programs or whose loans were discharged due to illegal conduct by their institutions would now qualify.
  • Those students who lived in foster care or experienced periods of homelessness can expect an easier application process.

These changes should open the door for more students and families to receive financial aid for higher education. Additionally, the bill aims to make the cost of college more transparent starting with the 2023-24 FAFSA application.

What Is the Student Aid Index?

One of the many FAFSA 2023-24 changes is the Student Aid Index (SAI). The new acronym, SAI replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in the student financial aid world. Of note, the EFC could be as low as $0, but the SAI can be even lower down to -$1500.

What Are the Pell Grant Eligibility Changes for 2023-24?

One of the most important FAFSA 2023-24 changes could be the Pell Grant eligibility. Students do not repay Federal Pell Grants, so award increases can have a massive impact on low-income families. 

Last year’s awards saw changes to the award size and family income limits. The maximum award increased to $6,895 for the 2022-23 year.

Following the recent student loan forgiveness announcement, it’s likely that Pell Grant recipients will see another bump for the 2023-24 school year.

Do you apply for FAFSA every year?

FAFSA opens each October and is available for the next academic year. The form is valid for up to one school year. So yes, you need to apply for FAFSA every year.

Is FAFSA first come, first served?

The FAFSA application opens the way to receiving different types of student financial aid like federal grants, student loans, and work-study. Some types of aid have fixed allocations and are first come, first served. That’s why, it’s in your best interest to keep your tax information and income documents ready, and apply as soon as possible.

Which calendar year income and tax information is needed for FAFSA?

The Federal Application for Federal Student Aid uses income and tax information from two years earlier. For example, the income and tax information from 2022 will be used to apply for FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year.

Is FAFSA a loan?

While FAFSA is not a loan, the form is used for applying to different types of student financial aid including federal student loans.

Do you have to pay back the FAFSA?

The FAFSA form allows students to receive different types of student aid. Repayment for grants, scholarships, and work-study money is not required but student loans need to be paid back.

Upon graduation, leaving school, or dropping credits, federal student loans go into repayment. Some students may be eligible for a grace period.


  • Hussain Shoaib

    Hussain Shoaib is an author and digital marketer with expertise in financial aid and education. He has extensive knowledge of the Pell grant and FAFSA, and has published numerous articles on these topics.

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3 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know About FAFSA 2023-24”

  1. Hello,
    I believe your information stating the SAI cannot be less than $1500 is incorrect. If I recall correclty, the SAI can be as low as -$1500 in order for schools to better identify students that truly need additional funding such as FSEOG.


    “Replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI)
    Not only will students and families see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, they will also experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid. The new need analysis formula removes the number of family members in college from the calculation, allows a minimum SAI of -$1,500, and implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants.”


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