The New FAFSA® Opens Soon: Is Your Family Ready?

By Emily Brehe-Gunter

For decades, the FAFSA® has reliably opened at the beginning of October—that is, until this year. In early 2023, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the form would be delayed this year by two months. The delayed open date for the 2024-2025 aid year is by December 31, 2023.

Keep in mind that this delay could potentially cause problems for 12th grade families navigating this significant change to the college admissions process. If there’s anything we’ve learned from being in the college prep sector for 30+ years, it’s that the college admissions landscape is ever-changing. In this post, we go over five tips for how families can best adapt to this delay in the admissions process.

Navigate through this article:

What Is the FAFSA and Why Is It Changing?

The FAFSA is a form provided by the U.S. Department of Education that determines a student’s eligibility for government-sponsored financial aid for attending college. This year, the form has undergone significant changes to help simplify the process of applying for financial aid.

As we noted in the introduction above, the FAFSA traditionally has opened on October 1st of a student’s 12th grade year. However, this year we expect the form to open by December 31st. Forbes reports that a shorter application window could pose some challenges, such as less time for families who need additional guidance when completing the form. With early decision deadlines already coming out, there is a likelihood that an increased number of families may make decisions without knowing the full cost of attendance.

Despite the obstacles a delayed date may create this year, the U.S. Department of Education hopes the changes will help simplify the FAFSA process for families.

FAFSA changes include:

  • Terminology updates:
    • “Contributor” is a new term used to describe family members who have to consent to send their tax information from the IRS to the FAFSA form. This process may now require a spouse or stepparent to fill out the form. Each contributor must have their own StudentAid.gov account (contributors without Social Security numbers can still create an account).
    • “Student Aid Index” (SAI) is the new term for Expect Family Contribution (EFC).
  • Integrated process: Contributors can now consent and approve to have their tax information directly transferred from the IRS to the FAFSA.
  • Status updates: Now students have the ability to view the status of the form after hitting submit, as well as check on the status of contributor tasks.
  • Less questions: Inside Higher Ed reported that a preview draft of the new FAFSA consisted of 46 maximum questions instead of the previous 108.
  • Widened access to Pell Grants: The Department of Education estimates that the new FAFSA form will help 1.2 million more students receive the maximum Pell Grant amount.
  • Additional changes: There may be changes to required information for unique situations, such as a student with divorced/separated parents, homeless students or students in the foster care system, or families who own farms or small businesses.

Filling Out The New FAFSA – 5 Tips For 12th Grade Families

1. Register for Your FSA ID Beforehand

The FAFSA website expects an uptick in user activity on the day that the application opens, so we recommend families register for their FSA ID in advance. If possible, try to create these accounts as soon as possible to ensure that an application is submitted in a timely fashion.

All contributors will need to create their own FSA ID account. Families should watch this video and determine all necessary contributors in advance of the application deadline. Students will need to communicate a contributor’s role in helping them obtain financial aid for college.

2. Gather Required Information

Try and gather all needed information in advance to the expected application open date. While the form process has been simplified, some personal information may be required to enter manually when submitting the application. Having this information on hand ahead of time will ensure accuracy and prevent potential delays.

Information needed when completing the form:

  • Student Social Security Number (if you have one)
  • Parents’ Social Security Number (if you’re a dependent)
  • Tax returns (2022)
  • Records of child support received
  • Current balances of cash, savings, and checking accounts
  • Net worth of investments, businesses, and farms
  • Contributor personal information: Name, date of birth, email addresses, and social security number

3. Take Advantage of Resources

The U.S. Department of Education has provided a wealth of information regarding the changes to the FAFSA. We encourage families to check out the resources available in the digital Toolkit, as well as on the Federal Student Aid YouTube page.

4. Fill Out the Form Promptly

Some families don’t realize how important it is to complete the FAFSA in a timely manner. This is even more crucial this year since there’s already a delay in college financial aid offices receiving the information needed to distribute awards.

There is only so much financial aid available to students at each college, and it’s distributed on a first come first serve basis. In other words, the sooner you submit the FAFSA, the more likely you’ll be to secure the full amount of financial aid for which you qualify.

This process can be confusing, and keep in mind that there are multiple deadlines to consider when filling out the form. In general, it’s best to submit your form as soon as possible, which is why we recommend planning ahead.

  • College deadlines: Many colleges have their own deadlines by which they need you to submit the FAFSA. Find it on the websites for the colleges on your list. If you’re having trouble finding this information online, we recommend reaching out to the college’s admissions or financial aid offices. Keep in mind that there may be different deadlines depending on when you applied (Early Decision, Regular Decision, etc.)
  • State deadlines: Each state will publish a priority deadline by which they recommend that students fill out the form. For example, the priority deadline for Texas is March 15, 2024.
  • Federal deadline: This deadline actually takes place after a student has already attended classes for the academic year. Consider it a last resort for unique situations such as technical errors or other extenuating circumstances. We highly recommend that you don’t wait this long to submit the FAFSA, if possible. The federal deadline for aid year 2024-2025 is June 30,2025.

5. Understand What To Expect

While you wait for colleges to determine your financial aid eligibility, become familiar with the type of financial award options typically offered. There will be additional steps required to accept your financial aid awards, and we also recommend accepting these in a timely fashion. Understanding the difference between grants, loans, etc. can help speed up the decision process. We wrote a Financial Aid Guide that goes over each of these options and answers frequently asked questions.

Need help preparing for college?

Since 1992, KD College Prep has helped 80,000+ students across 40 states navigate the college admissions process through test prep and college counseling programs. Let us be a resource for your family as well. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about our programs.

Emily Brehe-Gunter is the digital marketing director at KD College Prep.

Disclaimer: FAFSA® is a registered trademark owned by the U.S. Department of Education. KD College Prep has no affiliation with this institution and KD College Prep is not approved or endorsed by it. Furthermore, KD College Prep is not a financial advisor. We cover only some very basic information in our 12th grade planning and guidance seminar, but we can recommend ethical, seasoned professionals to help you in more detail.

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Ananya A. – Class of 2023

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Neha C. – Class of 2022

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“Obviously SAT® test prep was NOT fun. The experience was difficult and exhausting, but learning through KD definitely made the experience much less stressful and definitely easier. It's a great system with tons of resources all aimed to give you what you need and more to reach whatever score range you set as your goal (I was able to get a 1540). My favorite part though, specifically with the Coppell campus, was the people! Everyone was so incredibly nice and always in impossibly good moods. It was a great environment to learn and improve in!”
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“I want to thank KD College Prep for helping me get the score I needed to receive over $464,000 in scholarships, including two full rides. I started the program the summer going into my junior year. I had an excellent GPA but struggled on standardized tests. Taking the test prep classes throughout junior year and taking practice tests got me more prepared each time I took the test. I achieved my best score the summer going into my senior year. That score allowed me to apply to my top schools as soon as early decision opened. I am so grateful to Karen Dillard and the extra practice and proctored exams! My parents are grateful too—for the small investment they got a great return.”
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My feedback can only be positive, given how much you helped me get ahead with my application process. I really appreciated how much work both of you put into helping me write the best essay possible, especially reviewing my essays twice to polish them completely. In addition, I have noticed that writing my resume has released a lot of stress off my shoulder when it comes to making sure I have all the things necessary to apply to schools.
My feedback can only be positive, given how much you helped me get ahead with my application process. I really appreciated how much work both of you put into... Read more...

Claudia A. – Class of 2020

“My favorite things about KD were the mirroring it had to actual test questions, the availability, and the relationships you built with all the teachers and advisors who made the process of learning easier. I think that after you started going to a good amount of classes and the workshops, you knew every teacher, and they were always available to answer any questions that you had...Everyone was just so welcoming and made learning more engaging for the students, especially with the workshops. All of had their own unique style of teaching which never made a class boring.”
“My favorite things about KD were the mirroring it had to actual test questions, the availability, and the relationships you built with all the teachers and advisors who made the process of... Read more...

Rishab P. – Class of 2021

“I want to thank both of you so very much for making this dream come true. When I first came to KD, I wanted to get a score of 1520 or above... So many people told me it would be impossible to reach my desired score. After months of using KD's methods my scores definitely improved but hovered around 1350—still not near the score I needed but closer. After finally working with both of you during one on ones, my scores started to see heavy improvement and while I didn't get a score of 1520 or above as a single score, I got it as a superscore... Read more...
“I want to thank both of you so very much for making this dream come true. When I first came to KD, I wanted to get a score of 1520 or... Read more...

David P. – Class of 2022

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Gloria D. – Daughter, Class of 2021

“I attended KD for the last 3 years, and I was blessed with the opportunity to take the SAT® test one last time last month. I got a 1430 on the test. I wanted to take the time to say I have finished college applications, and I would love to thank all the teachers and aides at KD for giving me the score that I got on the test. Without the extra practice, I wouldn't have been able to get through to the score I got. These past 3 years went by so fast, and it is so fun to look back at where I started and how much I have come out with flying colors. Thank you so much!”
“I attended KD for the last 3 years, and I was blessed with the opportunity to take the SAT® test one last time last month. I got a 1430 on the test. I wanted to take the time to say I... Read more...

Kareena A. – Class of 2021

“I just wanted to say thank you to KD for all the help and support you’ve given over the past couple years! I was able to get the scores I wanted for the PSAT, SAT®, and ACT® tests. The resources were very helpful, and the individualized assistance I received from teachers were what really supported my learning. Special thanks to Ms. Barwick and Mr. Hoffman!”
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Advika R. – Class of 2022

“I shifted toward taking practice tests and going to workshops because I felt those were the best ways to apply the concepts (I was) learning in class. I started applying the tips and tricks that the teachers were showing me in class. In conjunction, those two things helped me raise my score a lot because I was not a math kid before KD or high school. The repetition and being able to practice in a non-stressful environment and simulating that testing experience is something that was very beneficial for me... “The college counseling team was super patient and honest about the work I was submitting. I know for a lot of kids, it’s hard to articulate who you are through 250-300 words. It was definitely... Read more...
“I shifted toward taking practice tests and going to workshops because I felt those were the best ways to apply the concepts (I was) learning in class. I started applying the tips and tricks that the teachers were showing me in... Read more...

Blaine W. – Class of 2021

“Both of my sons have been guided by KD College Prep counselor Steve Peifer on their journey to finding the right college for them, and we could not have had a better experience and outcome. My oldest son is now a rising junior at the University of Miami, and my youngest son is an incoming freshman at Vanderbilt University. Steve’s help in navigating the complicated college landscape and finding the BEST FIT for my two sons is what has made this resource invaluable. “What made the biggest difference for my two sons was the depth and breadth of knowledge Steve has of the many universities and colleges in the U.S. First, by getting to know my kids on a one-on-one basis, he was able to... Read more...
“Both of my sons have been guided by KD College Prep counselor Steve Peifer on their journey to finding the right college for them, and we could not have had a better experience and outcome. My oldest son is now a... Read more...

Julio M. – Parent

“My daughter loved the program—the program materials and the teachers both online and in person. She participated in a year of online and a year of in person. It was incredible enrichment and helped her keep her skills sharp over the summer. She liked being challenged academically, and she loved taking classes with high school students who were focused on their college goals. These students were also excellent role models! The lessons were especially important during the pandemic when it wasn’t a typical middle school experience.”
“My daughter loved the program—the program materials and the teachers both online and in person. She participated in a year of online and a year of in person. It was incredible enrichment and helped her keep her skills sharp over the... Read more...

Beth L. – Advanced Start™ Parent

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“I wanted to say thank you to all of the teachers and directors at KD for helping me get a great score on the SAT® test. I started with a 1250 on the first KD test I took, and I got a 1530 on the December 5th SAT test. KD played a huge role in this, and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone there for helping me achieve this.”
“I wanted to say thank you to all of the teachers and directors at KD for helping me get a great score on the SAT® test. I started with a 1250 on the first KD test I took, and I got... Read more...

Vyom S. – Class of 2022

"Our twin 16-year-old boys used KD College Prep to study/practice for the PSAT test, and we believe the classes and coaching were invaluable. Very professional and concise. Worth every penny!"
"Our twin 16-year-old boys used KD College Prep to study/practice for the PSAT test, and we believe the classes and coaching were invaluable. Very professional and concise. Worth every penny!"

Jerry – Sons, Class of 2022

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“I'm writing to thank the KD team for all the help and guidance over the last couple of years! All the resources provided were very useful to me and helped me achieve the scores I was aiming for on the PSAT, SAT®, and ACT® tests (1520, 1580, and 34). I really appreciate everyone's willingness to be flexible and accommodate my requests!”
“I'm writing to thank the KD team for all the help and guidance over the last couple of years! All the resources provided were very useful to me and helped me achieve the scores I was aiming for on the PSAT,... Read more...

Mithra A. – Class of 2022

"The resources that KD offers have greatly prepared me for the college admissions process. Without KD, I would not have been this prepared and confident... I am a rising senior, and I ended up receiving a 1570 on my SAT® test (third time) and a 35 on my ACT® test (first time). I remember the first ever practice test I took for the SAT test was a 1230 (about 1.5 yrs ago) and the first ever practice test I took for the ACT test was a 31 or 32 (about 6 months ago)."
"The resources that KD offers have greatly prepared me for the college admissions process. Without KD, I would not have been this prepared and confident... I am a rising senior, and I ended up receiving a 1570 on my SAT® test... Read more...

Elise P. – Class of 2022

“I want to thank KD College Prep for helping both of my kids over the last years reach successful outcomes on their SAT® and ACT® scores, which helped them get into great colleges. I found the college prep class for parents very informative and helpful during the process as well.  My son (Jacob) graduated in 2018 and got a 32 on the ACT test. got accepted into Texas A&M but chose Baylor for Health Sciences.  My daughter (Morgan) graduated in 2020 and got a 1450 on the SAT test and a 32 on the ACT test. got into an Ivy League school (Cornell) for Engineering.  Both my kids say that they apply the test taking skills they learned at KD Prep to... Read more...
“I want to thank KD College Prep for helping both of my kids over the last years reach successful outcomes on their SAT® and ACT® scores, which helped them get into great colleges. I found the college prep class for parents... Read more...

Jon D. – Parent

“Coming into this whole process, I had absolutely no idea what anything was, and your help was invaluable—your encouraging words, strategic advice, and wholesome stories and jokes really got me through a stressful time! I'm still on the waitlist at Harvard and other schools, but I've really started to immerse into the Emory culture, especially their debate team. Not having to pay for college and still attend a private institution is really a dream come true, and it wouldn't be possible if it were not for you.”
“Coming into this whole process, I had absolutely no idea what anything was, and your help was invaluable—your encouraging words, strategic advice, and wholesome stories and jokes really got me through a stressful time! I'm still on the waitlist at Harvard... Read more...

Shreyas R. – Class of 2020

“The most beneficial guidance I received during my College Counseling experience was being taught that it's completely ok to not know what I want to do with the rest of my life at 17/18 years old. Steve told me that a good school will help me find my path. Also, Steve's knowledge about what colleges were wanting to see in potential admissions candidates was a huge help... “There was not one specific beneficial moment or turning point in my time working with Steve, there were many. He encouraged me during the entire application process and brought to my attention many colleges I wouldn't have considered or heard about without his help.”
“The most beneficial guidance I received during my College Counseling experience was being taught that it's completely ok to not know what I want to do with the rest of my life at 17/18 years old. Steve told me that a... Read more...

Jake W. – Class of 2020

"I'm very happy my daughter chose KD as her learning partner to achieve her goals. All the experiences with KD and the Directors there are fabulous. My daughter has improved significantly."
"I'm very happy my daughter chose KD as her learning partner to achieve her goals. All the experiences with KD and the Directors there are fabulous. My daughter has improved significantly."

Zarni, Daughter – Class of 2021

"I took KD classes the summer before my junior year, and I was finished with my SAT® test by December...The test prep classes also helped me earn the award of National Merit® Finalist."
"I took KD classes the summer before my junior year, and I was finished with my SAT® test by December...The test prep classes also helped me earn the award of National Merit® Finalist."

Claire I. – Class of 2020

"It's been super helpful, and I've noticed my scores go up both on my SAT®/ACT® scores as well as test scores in school... Overall, I believe this to be the best college prep that money can buy."
"It's been super helpful, and I've noticed my scores go up both on my SAT®/ACT® scores as well as test scores in school... Overall, I believe this to be the best college prep that money can buy."

Gopi C. – Class of 2021

"KD helped me come up with a game plan for the colleges I wanted to attend, as well as any backups, and how to manage my time during this stressful period. They helped to ease the stress and made sure that I would be successful in whichever college I picked, and I am eternally grateful for all their help and hard work!"
"KD helped me come up with a game plan for the colleges I wanted to attend, as well as any backups, and how to manage my time during this stressful period. They helped to ease the stress and made... Read more...

Omar S. – Class of 2020

"My initial goals when I first started working with the KD Counseling crew was to compile a list of colleges that I would be somewhat interested in attending and fit my career goals. I think that this step I was by far the most concerned about. I didn’t know how exactly I should go about choosing which places to apply to and if I were to be accepted, if they would fit me. The team did a wonderful job considering my likes and dislikes and helped me compile a list of colleges that suited my tastes and would further my academic career. "After this integral first step, my focus turned towards time management and writing quality essays that would stand out to colleges. I got... Read more...
"My initial goals when I first started working with the KD Counseling crew was to compile a list of colleges that I would be somewhat interested in attending and fit my career goals. I think that this step I was by... Read more...

Nina H. – Class of 2020

"I was thankful for all the help I received from KD in preparing for my SAT® and ACT® exams. The workshops they offered, as well as the practice exams, gave me the tools I needed to do my very best."
"I was thankful for all the help I received from KD in preparing for my SAT® and ACT® exams. The workshops they offered, as well as the practice exams, gave me the tools I needed to do my very best."

Morgan D. – Class of 2020

"KDCP is a must for students wanting to stay a step ahead of the game for getting into college. My son has gained huge insight from the ACT®/SAT® practice workshops, practice tests, and essay class."
"KDCP is a must for students wanting to stay a step ahead of the game for getting into college. My son has gained huge insight from the ACT®/SAT® practice workshops, practice tests, and essay class."

Tiffany – Son, Class of 2021

"KD helped to increase the efficiencies of how I took the national exams. I was also able to implement these efficiencies in my daily school studies within the IB program at PESH. I would (and have) recommend KD to those students wanting an edge on their national test scores!"
"KD helped to increase the efficiencies of how I took the national exams. I was also able to implement these efficiencies in my daily school studies within the IB program at PESH. I would (and have) recommend KD to those students... Read more...

Daniel J. – Class of 2020

"Not only have I been able to significantly improve my test scores, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about the college application process due to complimentary events that KD offers."
"Not only have I been able to significantly improve my test scores, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about the college application process due to complimentary events that KD offers."

Sam H. – Class of 2020

"I came to KD the summer before my senior year with only my determination and big goals! KD provided me with the resources necessary to improve my test score to increase my chances at my dream school, Notre Dame, with the help from amazing teachers and staff. I am so grateful for KD!"
"I came to KD the summer before my senior year with only my determination and big goals! KD provided me with the resources necessary to improve my test score to increase my chances at my dream school, Notre Dame, with the... Read more...

Matt K. – Class of 2020

"I started classes at KD the summer before 9th grade. I...made a perfect score on the PSAT (earning the National Merit® scholarship) and, after taking the SAT® test only once (a relief!), scored a 1590/1600."
"I started classes at KD the summer before 9th grade. I...made a perfect score on the PSAT (earning the National Merit® scholarship) and, after taking the SAT® test only once (a relief!), scored a 1590/1600."

Thomas D. – Class of 2019

"In just one year, I was able to raise my score by 300 points and get into my dream school."
"In just one year, I was able to raise my score by 300 points and get into my dream school."

Piper F. – Class of 2020

"Having our recent GHS graduate attend KD was life changing. It provided our son with choices and opportunities that he might not have had otherwise."
"Having our recent GHS graduate attend KD was life changing. It provided our son with choices and opportunities that he might not have had otherwise."

Kathy – Son attends Mizzou

test prep testimonial grace
“I came to KD College Prep after already using another tutoring service which we were not seeing results with. Due to time constraints, the traditional classes were not going to be feasible for my daughter. They took the time to figure out a personal plan that would work for her and were always available for our questions and helping her reach her goals. Every employee from the managers to the students working at their locations are top notch.”
“I came to KD College Prep after already using another tutoring service which we were not seeing results with. Due to time constraints, the traditional classes were not going to be feasible for my daughter. They took the time to figure... Read more...

Tracy – Daughter, Class of 2020

"The KD College Prep course not only provided test practice but also motivated her to work hard for her college applications. It gave her the confidence to dream big!"

"The KD College Prep course not only provided test practice but also motivated her to work hard for her college applications. It gave her the confidence to dream big!"

Prema – Daughter attends Rice

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*Restrictions apply. See discount page for details. Offer ends March 27, 2024.