Filling out FAFSA made simple

Students talking Published February 28, 2024

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year can be a chore, but new changes have made the process faster and easier.

The Department of Education made the FAFSA application simpler by reducing the number of questions because they now work with the IRS directly. It also expands the Federal Pell Grant to more students and links eligibility to family size and federal poverty level.

“The Department of Education started this initiative called the FAFSA Simplification,” said College of Lake County (CLC) Financial Aid Director Rey Gonzalez. “Now you just plug in your data and then tax information gets imported, so you don't have to put in everything manually.”

FAFSA will no longer use estimated family income, replacing it with the Student Aid Index (SAI). The new formula removes the number of family members in college from the calculation and allows a minimum SAI of –1500.

To be eligible to complete a FAFSA, one must be eligible noncitizens or citizens of the United States, have graduated high school (including GED, high school diploma, or homeschool completion) and be attending an accredited institution in an eligible program of study.

Students of any age can fill out the FAFSA. Parent information is required for students who are under the age of 24, unmarried, have no kids or dependents and aren’t a veteran. However, there is a dependency override system where a student’s situation can be looked at individually.

CLC visits local high schools to host events that help ensure students and their parents understand the importance of filling out the FAFSA. Students are advised to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible as some financial aid, including the MAP grant in Illinois, have deadlines.

To hear more about FAFSA and student aid from the experts at CLC, listen to the “Financial Aid questions? We have answers” episode of the CLC Connects podcast on your preferred podcast streaming platform.

Current and prospective students can meet with CLC financial aid specialists for more information. There will also be a financial aid session at CLC’s Open House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.