OHIO — The U.S. Department of Education made changes to this year's FAFSA application. Mike Collins, the director of financial aid at Case Western Reserve University, explained that it will hopefully make the process easier.

What You Need To Know

  • FAFSA application is now open

  • It typically opens in October, but there was a delay because there were changes made to the application 

  • The goal of the changes was to make the application process overall easier 

  • The delay is causing challenges for students and financial aid offices

“It’s basically a goal of making the FAFSA simpler for students and families to fill out and making it a little bit easier,” he said.

One change, Collins explained, is that FAFSA and the IRS are going to work together.

“It’s going to look and see okay, this set of people they qualify we have their information, let’s just load that in from the IRS instead of having you go find your taxes, having you put in a bunch of other information and try to remember this thing or that thing,” he said.

The changes have caused challenges. The application didn’t open until Dec. 2023, when in the past it opened in October. Collins expressed the impact that the delays could have on students.

“October 1st is generally when it comes out they had to delay it because they were still making changes, still making updates to try to get everything ready, so there are going to be some students where they may not receive there financial aid information until after they’ve already been admitted and maybe even have decided what school they want to go to,” he said.

Collins explained that this will also make it harder for financial aid offices across the country.

“With the FAFSA only now becoming available and the department of education has said they won’t start sending information to schools until around the end of January at the earliest, that’s really going to shrink that time frame for us to take a look at everything,” he said.

The website has still experienced hiccups, despite being soft launched on Sunday. Collins said there are some tools for students for them to get a better understanding of how much money they might receive.

“Schools that receive federal money are supposed to have a net price calculator somewhere on their website, which gives students an idea, an estimate, of what type of aid they might be eligible for,” he said.

Collins said that Case Western Reserve has hopes to send out their FAFSA information around the same time they send out admissions, which is typically mid-March.