KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If you’ve filled out a FAFSA form before, you know how difficult and confusing the process can be. In an attempt to make higher education more accessible, changes were made to make the form easier to complete.
The FAFSA Simplification Act, championed by former Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, makes the FAFSA shorter, faster and more precise. These changes will first appear in the 2024-25 FAFSA form.
Previously, the form had 100 questions, but now only has 36. Students will also no longer have to manually add their tax data as it will be directly linked.
“This is one of the most transformational changes that we’ve seen in the last three decades,” University of Tennessee Executive Director of Enrollment Management Operations and Financial Initiatives Jeff Gerkin said.
The University of Tennessee is expecting around 40,000 FAFSA forms this year. About 28,000 students receive some form of financial aid.
“The FAFSA can be a very challenging application, particularly for students who are coming from first-generation families. They do not have that experience of filling out complex federal forms,” Gerkin said.
Typically, the FAFSA is available in October. However, the 2024-25 FAFSA form was delayed. The U.S. Department of Education said it will open by Dec. 31. Although there are hopes that the changes will improve accessibility, it’s unknown if a delayed start date will impact other financial aid factors.
“That’s still kind of unknown at this time,” Maryville College Director of Finacial Aid Brie Kalivas said when asked if a delay will affect other financial aid factors. “What is known is that the goal is to provide more grant eligibility.”
Although the form is not available yet, students can still create a FAFSA ID. All parents and all students must have their own.