2024-25 FAFSA is Now Available: Here’s What You Should Know

As of Dec. 31, the much-anticipated new 2024-25 FAFSA is now available online for students and families to complete. Although the form has been released, it is important to note that that the U.S. Department of Education shared that the release is a “soft launch” and that the form may be unavailable periodically as they work through any potential issues.

Group of happy teen high school students studying outdoors, preparing for lectures together, free space

So, what does this mean for students and families? This means that there may be glitches or interruptions during the soft launch period that families should consider. The U.S. Department of Education has indicated that the soft launch will allow the department to monitor site performance, conduct planned pauses for maintenance, and make updates to improve the user experience. In addition, they have advised that Federal Student Aid (FSA) will not transmit results to schools until later in January.

As a reminder, there are things you can do now to prepare for the updated FAFSA if you would prefer to wait to file until after the soft launch. You can review our November blog post for more details. Here are a few other helpful things to keep in mind should you choose to fill out the FAFSA during the soft launch period:

  • If a student completes their form during the soft launch, information will be stored for processing and they do not need to return to resubmit their application once the soft launch concludes.
  • FSA will initiate planned pauses for site maintenance. During these pauses, students who are already online will be able to complete their work, but other users may not be able to begin or resume work on their 2024-25 FAFSA form. If you are unable to fill out the form, you should come back later and try again.Students with modern devices studying online indoors
  • Students may experience a waiting room feature to help control website volumes for those trying to fill out the form.
  • If a contributor is unable to access the site during maintenance, they should try again later and fill out their section as soon as the site becomes available again.
  • Once your 2024-25 FAFSA form is completed and submitted, students will receive a confirmation email that includes their submission date, their Student Aid Index, and their estimated Federal Pell Grant eligibility. Students will not receive an official FAFSA submission summary until their FAFSA is processed, beginning in late January.

Deadline Reminders

In Missouri, the deadline to file the FAFSA to be eligible for the Missouri Access Grant Program is April 1. Applications received before that date will receive an Access Missouri award, although the final award amount will not be determined until later in the year.

It is also important to note that some colleges and universities may have their own FAFSA deadlines for the financial aid they offer. Please check with each school you are interested in to make sure you are meeting important deadlines.

4 Ways to Prepare for the 2024-25 FAFSA

With the announcement that the 2024-25 FAFSA is delayed until December, many students and families are left wondering if there is anything they can do now to help prepare. The answer to this is yes! In fact, there are many steps you can take to help you prepare to file your FAFSA once it is released. Taking a little time to prepare now will help make sure you are able to file your FAFSA on time and be considered for all of the financial aid opportunities available. 

The following information and resources are available to help you prepare in the next few weeks.

1. Determine Your Classification

Student sitting on floor using laptopDepending on your circumstances, you are classified as an independent or dependent student. It is important to know what type of student you are before you file your FAFSA. If you are an independent student, you will only need to provide personal information for yourself and, if married, your spouse. If you are considered a dependent student, you will need to provide information for yourself and your legal parent(s). 

If you are not sure which type of student you are, review this helpful checklist

2. Create an FSA ID

Anyone who needs to fill out the FAFSA (or portions of the FAFSA) will need to create an FSA ID if they do not already have one. If you are a dependent student, at least one of your parents will need to create an FSA ID as well. It will take up to 3 business days for your FSA ID to be processed and approved, so you will want to create your ID before you need to file your FAFSA. To create your FSA ID, please visit studentaid.gov. You will need your:

Young student talking on phone, holding a piece of paper and looking at a computer screen.

    • Social Security number (or alternative identity verification)
    • Full name as it appears on your birth certificate
    • Date of Birth
    • Contact Information (physical address, phone number, and email address)

More detailed information and helpful tips can be found on our FSA ID infographic. You may also consider attending a FAFSA Frenzy: FSA ID Event  for free assistance with setting up your FSA ID. 

3. Collect Important Information

The FAFSA will ask many questions that will require you to provide information about your taxes, wages, and certain assets. If you are a dependent students, you will also need this information for your parent(s). This FAFSA Checklist may be helpful to you as you consider what information you should have available when it is time to fill out the FAFSA. 

4. Identify your Parent/Contributor

mother using a laptop in kitchen with teenagerIf you are a dependent student, you must include information about your parent(s) when you fill out  your FAFSA application. We understand all families are unique – some parents may be divorced, remarried, or you may live with someone other than your parent. So, how do you know whose information you should report? The information offered in this flowchart may help you determine whose information you need. You may also consider reviewing this flowchart developed by Federal Student Aid

For more general information and helpful resources, please visit the 2024-2025 FAFSA Information webpage. You may also review our FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions for detailed information about common questions related to the FAFSA and FSA ID. Finally if you are not already we encourage you to follow Journey to College on social media for helpful tips, reminders, and the latest updates. 

FAFSA Delayed in 2023: What to Do Now?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will not be available until sometime in December this year instead of the typical October 1 release. This delay is due to the form undergoing many revisions aimed at making the FAFSA easier to complete and to provide more students with money to attend college.

There are steps you can take now to help you prepare to file your 2024-25 FAFSA this winter. We strongly encourage students and families to use this extra time to learn about the changes and make sure you are ready to fill out the new form when it opens. 

The easiest way to learn about the 2024-25 FAFSA is to take advantage of the resources on our 2024-25 FAFSA information page. There you’ll find easy-to-follow steps and important FAFSA information.

Before the FAFSA opens you first have to create an FSA ID on studentaid.gov if you don’t already have one. Anyone who needs to fill out the FAFSA or portions of the FAFSA will need to create an account. This account will allow you to fill out a FAFSA, sign it, and have it processed in the quickest way possible. It will also allow you to correct any information or prefill your FAFSA form with information from a previous year.

Help with creating an account and preparing for the FAFSA is available during free FAFSA Frenzy: FSA ID events in November and December. Check out the FAFSA Frenzy calendar to find an event near you.

Look ahead to the FAFSA Frenzy events in January, February, and March, when you can get assistance filing the FAFSA and enter to win a $500 Journey to College Scholarship. FAFSA Frenzy events are hosted at high schools, colleges, Missouri Job Centers, and libraries across the state.

When the 2024-25 FAFSA opens, it is important to fill it out the FAFSA as soon as possible because it could earn you more money. In Missouri, there are some deadlines to remember. To be eligible for the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program, you must file your 2024-25 FAFSA by April 1, 2024. Students who qualify for Access Missouri and file before February 1, 2024, are guaranteed to receive an Access Missouri Award. 

Other deadlines to remember are June 30, 2024, the final day to file a FAFSA, and September 14, 2024, the last day to file corrections or updates to your FAFSA. Some colleges and universities have their own deadlines, so make sure you are meeting those as well.

We will continue to post updates and announce the official date the FAFSA will open once it is available. Follow MDHEWD’s social media pages for the latest helpful information and updates.

5 Reasons to File a FAFSA

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education gives roughly $120 billion in federal loans, grants, and work-study funds to more than 13 million college students. These funds are awarded only to those who file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

By not submitting a FAFSA, students are leaving billions of dollars on the table, and are missing out on a pretty great deal. Federal loans have low interest rates, federal grants don’t need to be repaid, and work-study programs are a great way to pay for college while building your resume. And about 90 percent of high school seniors who submit a FAFSA enroll in college the following fall semester, whereas only about half of the high school seniors who do not submit the form end up enrolling in the fall. Filing a FAFSA to see what financial aid you qualify for could be the deciding factor.

The point is, there is NO reason you shouldn’t submit a FAFSA, and countless good reasons why you SHOULD. Here are five:  

More than just a loan

While most students submit a FAFSA as a way of securing a low-interest loan from the federal government, filing a FAFSA is also the only way to become eligible for certain types of aid that don’t need to be paid back. Every year, millions of dollars in grants and scholarships from states and universities are distributed based on financial need, and the only way to qualify for this aid is by submitting a FAFSA.

Most students qualify

You may qualify for free aid, like the Pell grant, or Access Missouri grant, but you won’t know unless you file. Anyone with a household income below $250,000 is eligible to receive some form of federal aid, as long as they submit a FAFSA. While only 5 percent of U.S. households make too much money to qualify for federal aid, more than 40 percent of high school seniors fail to file a FAFSA.

Federal loans are easier to pay off than private loans

Some students, instead of filing a FAFSA, choose to borrow money from private lenders such as banks, credit unions, state agencies, and even schools. However, there are many benefits to choosing a federal student loan over a private student loan.

The first is interest rates. In most cases, the interest rate on Federal loans is lower than those of private loans. The federal interest rate is also fixed and won’t change, whereas private loans can have variable interest rates, which are harder to predict.

Payments on Federal loans aren’t due until six months after you graduate or leave college, so you’ll have a grace period to land on your feet before your first payment is due. However, many private lenders require students to start making payments while they are still finishing school. Federal loans can also be deferred or put in a forbearance period if you are experiencing certain hardships, like a job loss or medical issue.  

It’s free to submit

It costs nothing to file a FAFSA, and you won’t be required to accept any aid you are offered. High schools across Missouri host FAFSA Frenzy events, where students can receive free help filling out their FAFSA. The FAFSA is easier now than it has ever been, with more simplified questions coming in the next few years.

Your financial situation could change

Unexpected crises, such as a global pandemic, create financial difficulties. One day, you could have a complex spreadsheet, mapping out exactly how you plan to pay for every one of your expenses; the next day, something bad happens – your income level changes, your employer goes out of business, a family member has a medical emergency, etc. – and your entire plan is sent into a tailspin. When special circumstances arise, you can appeal to your college’s financial aid office for additional assistance. Filing the FAFSA gives them a starting point to understand your financial situation. If things have changed, colleges can often use what’s called “professional judgment” to help you overcome new financial challenges and help get you back on your feet.