The MEFA Institute: A Deep Dive into the FAFSA

This webinar for school counselors and college access professionals provides a detailed overview of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), including step-by-step instructions on completing the application, helpful tips on answering questions correctly, and important next steps.

Download the webinar slides to follow along.


Please note that this transcript was auto-generated. We apologize for any minor errors in spelling or grammar.

So we are going to jump right in. Um, if you don't know what the FAFSA is, it's the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Always stressing that, uh, it is free. There used to actually be a kind of fake FAFSA site that would charge, uh, people, uh, to complete that, uh, but the government at one point, uh, finally took that over.

So, um, it's, uh, fafsa. gov or you can get there through studentaid. gov. It is required by all colleges and universities for any sort of federal and state. Uh, and some institutions may require it, um, in order to be eligible for their institutional, um, aid. So it really is the form that, you know, if anyone's applying for aid of any sort, um, they're going to be completing this form.

As many of you know, it has typically opened on October 1st, but there is a delay. Uh, you know, we were waiting on dates. We knew it was December. We all speculated it would be December 31st. Um, the government has kind of confirmed it will open by December 31st. So we're still thinking it will be the 31st of December.

Um, and it does need to be completed, uh, each year. Um, if the student again is, is going to be, uh, applying for aid in each year. Uh, and then really important to remember that Institutions may have other forms, um, or other requirements in order to apply, uh, so even though there's all this stress, um, of the FAFSA form and completing that, uh, as we always say in our world, it depends, right?

Every institution, um, you know, is a little bit different in, and in what else they may be requiring, or it may just be the FAFSA at an institution.

So as far as changes to the form. Um, you know, when, when I've been doing presentations, uh, at local high school, I, high schools, I've kind of been asking, you know, who has completed a FAFSA before? Just to get a sense of that. Um, I'd say a good majority actually never have. So for them, um, there's no real difference.

Um, but, uh, for people who have completed it before, and for people, you know, like ourselves that have kind of been dealing with students in the past completing the form, uh, we do want to highlight some of the things that are a little bit different. And one of them is, is around language. Uh, and so, they're using this term contributor.

Uh, this is, Anyone who is having to contribute information to the form, and the federal government actually has put some clarifying language around, you know, being a contributor does not mean that you're responsible to contribute to the student's education. Uh, and and I think particularly when we, um, delve into, uh, a, a stepparent, um, who ends up having to be a contributor, uh, that language, uh, can be really helpful.

So contributor, anyone who needs to provide information, and each contributor has a section that they're completing, which is a little bit different than the previous iterations of the FAFSA form where it was kind of all one form as itself. But when, you know, say the student or the parent contributor goes in, they're really mostly completing information about themselves.

The student, if they're the first one to go in, they're inviting The, um, other contributors and those people go in and they're completing information specific, uh, you know, to themselves. All of the income questions are going to be pulled directly from federal tax returns, um, and only once consent, uh, is provided.

By each contributor. And if each contributor does not provide consent to say it's okay to pull that information, the student actually will be ineligible for any sort of federal or state aid, perhaps institutional, that would be an institutional decision. But, uh, but that consent and providing consent to something that is new.

And additionally, even if someone is a non filer. or files a foreign tax return, they still have to provide that consent. There is, you know, skip logic, which removes questions that aren't applicable, and that, you know, that's something that also, you know, happened in the past FAFSA form. Any questions have to be completed in order, you can't kind of skip ahead to questions.

If a question doesn't apply, or the answer is zero, you're just putting zero for any of those answers. Uh, and then this last, um, bullet point around the FAFSA is being deleted after 45 days, uh, reminder emails will be sent, um, to students, uh, letting them know that, you know, uh, you need to go back in and complete the FAFSA.

So, uh, that's really important that, um, that they pay attention to that. Hopefully, The student and any other contributors, um, are kind of getting it all done within the same day or a couple of days and they're not, um, having to wait. Um, but, uh, perhaps if the student kind of went in and then the parent, you know, delayed or, or didn't sign the FAFSA, uh, at that point, um, if 45 days passes that, uh, would end up being deleted and they would have to start again.

Items and information that is needed to complete the FAFSA. I would say that this hasn't really changed all that much, but, uh, the students and parents need, you know, the social security number, date of birth, current bank statements, um, value for a business farm, investment records. You want to have those, have the student, the parent understand that they should have those on hand because they're going to have to ask questions about that.

One thing that I will note, I always like to tell stories, um, when I am doing, you know, presentations around financial aid stories that relate to, hey, I had a student who did this, right? Uh, and, and here's why I'm letting, uh, people know that, uh, I was actually speaking with a school counselor last week, um, and when I was noting about, You know, we really are saying everyone should get their FSA ID as soon as possible.

Uh, and this school counselor said that a student went in to do that, um, and Someone else had transposed their own social security number and it ended up being the students. And so there was a bit of a delay in getting that so I bring that up here when we talk about social security number, like actually encouraging people to take that their actual card, so that they have that number.

Correct, and they're using the correct numbers so that there aren't any issues or they're not causing issues for another student by thinking they know what that number is, um, and and kind of getting it possibly incorrect. And then certain families, and we'll look at that, you know, may need information coming from their 2022 federal tax return, but for the most part, all of that information will will get pulled directly from the IRS.

This is just that information as far as If the student, um, or you're helping a student and they, uh, need some help that, you know, it's beyond, uh, you know, what they're able to, uh, to do, uh, this is the information with phone, email, chat, uh, for student aid that can be, uh, helping them with any difficult questions.

So again, just hitting on this FSA ID, um, this is, you know, they're kind of renaming this a little bit student aid, you know, uh, you know, uh, account, uh, information, but it's the FSA ID, which is federal student aid ID. Uh, it is a username and password. It. If a parent already had an FSA ID, they do not need to get a new one, so it hasn't changed in that way, um, but a little bit different, it, it, you actually need that in order to start the FAFSA, where in the past, you could begin the FAFSA, um, prior to fully, fully having that FSA ID finalized, which, um, it goes through a process, so it takes at least a day, but up to three days for that kind of verification process, and then you're able to use it You know, and sign, but now you need that FSA to even just start the FAFSA.

So again, the stress really is to get people to sign up and have that FSA ID now prior to the FAFSA opening so that they so that once it does open, they're able to just Go in, uh, and rather seamlessly, um, complete the FAFSA. So who needs an FSA ID? The student as a contributor needs an FSA ID. Um, the Department of Education is really encouraging that every parent, um, that would be listed on the FAFSA gets an FSA ID.

The reality is in a situation where Parents are married and they file jointly. Only one parent actually needs the FSA ID, um, but in this new FAFSA world with these contributors, um, and being able to draw the information from the IRS, um, out, if parents are married but they are filing separately, they will need their own FSA ID.

Those will be two contributors. To the FAFSA, um, completing their own section and consenting both of them, um, to have their information, uh, pulled. So, um, very different than the old, uh, FAFSA form. Must have an email address, it has to be distinct. So, um, and students obviously, you know, I'm sure you do the same encouragement that a student shouldn't be if they have a school email address.

It's one that they're going to have access to and be able to check, uh, once they have left, uh, high school. It requires some personal information, setting up challenge questions. Again, very new. Parents without an SSN will need to answer knowledge based questions based on credit history. So in the past, parents without an SSN were not able to access or receive an FSA ID because they needed to have a social security number.

They are working on and to have a new process in place that is supposed to open at the basically around the same time that the FAFSA will open that parents who do not have a social security number will now be able to get an FSA ID. In theory, it should be, you know, easy enough. They answer these kind of knowledge based questions based on credit history.

If they do not kind of pass that, um, it does go to a secondary process, um, you know, that will take, um, you know, some bit of time, but it hasn't fully opened, um, and so, uh, you know, we've heard about it, and we've seen, um, you know, what it will look like, but it hasn't fully opened, so I think, you know, that's an area where, um, you know, I myself have, you know, some concerns, even for my returning students, where Um, we've been able to, you know, collect paper signatures and help those families, um, they're, they're really going to have to take that extra step, uh, and get that FSA ID.

So again, uh, you know, getting it now, um, it hasn't yet opened for the parents without a social security number. Um, there is a how to create your FSA ID webinar, so that's certainly a good tool. Um, you can push out to students, uh, and parents if they're having, you know, uh, any concerns, uh, or what have you.

So the homepage of the FAFSA, um, you know, once it's opened and we have that 24 25, um, you know, you have help text just as you normally have had. I will say that, um, over the past, probably, I don't know, Nine years or so. I mean, they've they've done a lot of work to really make it as user friendly as possible and providing as much, um, helpful tips and tools within the form.

And so I think, you know, we continue to see that, um, as we move into this new form. So, um, Clicking on start a new form because once it opens, that's what everyone will be doing. Uh, there will be this login, and again, um, they need to use their FSA ID to log in. They can click here on create an account, um, but they're not going to be able to fully go in and complete that FAFSA form without the FSA ID.

Uh, and then it becomes, you know, choosing. Who it is that's actually, um, completing the form. So we're gonna first walk through as, um, the student. There are about four, um, onboarding screens, um, that I'm sure all of the students will probably just kind of press continue rather than, you know, watching, uh, these little videos.

They're very short, um, but they certainly can, uh, do that. And, you know, if, If you, um, I know I always sign up. I have an FSA ID that that I use and go in just so that I can see how things look, uh, for myself. And, you know, of course, um, you know, would probably watch the video for the first time, but I don't think it's anything, uh, earth shattering that you're probably not already hearing, uh, from me.

Because this is all new. I think it's really important that defining of the contributors and you know, hopefully students and parents, you know, maybe have already heard this, but perhaps not. And so it does explain the concept of the contributor, how to invite. Contributors, right? Uh, as well as, um, you know, I don't know if you guys can read this, but under that parents or spouses, uh, it really, um, talks about, um, but will not become financially responsible for your education.

So they've added language like that into, uh, into this, um, this kind of onboarding screen. And it also goes through, as I said, you know, documents, um, that you're going to need or may need. And then, um, explaining consent that you must provide consent in order to be eligible. I will say that in the prototype, um, which they released, which allowed us, um, to kind of go through, um, and Walk through what it looks like for different types of students.

Um, I wanted to not provide consent and see what would happen. It does. If you don't provide consent, it really does come up with a box telling you you're you're not eligible for federal aid. If you know, and you basically have to say, continue and kind of confirm. Yes, I don't want to provide consent. What I don't love is that it then allows the student to Um, To complete the form, um, and enter, hand enter, kind of, um, that tax information, uh, and so, and it, and it says to determine your eligibility even though you're not eligible, so I, I feel like that's a little bit conflicting, but it certainly comes with, up with a very large box telling you you are not eligible.

Um, I, I, I, I have to assume the reason they are letting, um, a student hand enter would be that that information perhaps would. Then trickle to an institution. I'm not really sure. Um, and, um, and they may use that for institutional funds. But, but, uh, you know, it does feel a little bit confusing and conflicting if they if they press no.

So this is kind of, um, just moving on understanding it tells you what's going to happen after, um, and then you really they're just going to then, okay, let's get started with the form. So, first is kind of identity information because the student has logged in with that FSA ID. It has all of that information.

And so the student is really just reviewing that you can see here on my left side of the screen. Um, you know, the information of name, date of birth, social security number, email address, phone. Those are kind of all locked in. If a student needed to change one of those, they can go into studentaid. gov into their account.

Settings and change those, but they are able to change mailing address information. The stuff that's on the right, you know where there's a box that looks like you can actually make a change so they could do that there.

So state of legal residence here really just highlighting. And again, I already noted this that over the years, they have done a lot of work. And I've always talked about the fact that these are really helpful tools. Those question mark in the circle. It will expand out a box really for every single question to give you further insight.

If you had a question, I used to always say that it was great for the tax questions because it would give you line items line numbers right on a tax return. All of those questions are removed, but perhaps a student or a family might have a question about, um, you know, what exactly does legal residence, you know, mean, uh, and that's going to provide that, uh, that help.

So, uh, those really are a helpful tool. This is the consent page. It certainly is significant, right? It's not just, oh, I provide consent. Um, there's a lot of information there. Uh, the IRS, um, you know, is. Really strict about what can be provided. Additionally, we as financial aid administrators are having to follow even more strict and stringent rules around what's now called FTI, which is federal tax information.

So not only are we bound by certain higher education rules, but now rules within the IRS that have been adjusted and and there's Restrictions on how we can, um, store that information and and share or really not share, uh, that information that federal tax information. Um, so again, um, everyone who's contributing to that FAFSA form has to provide consent.

No matter if they're a tax file or, or, or not. Um, it's, it's something I, I'm just kind of harping on because it's new. Um, and, uh, and it really is, uh, important that, that, that that consent is provided so that the student knows, uh, what they're eligible for.

So here is, um, a a bit to, we start to get into. Does a student need to provide basically parent information. So, um, looking at first kind of personal circumstances, um, here, uh, and we're going to walk through what those questions are. So, Either the students dependent and they have to provide parent information, or they're independent, and then there's no parent information that is required to be provided.

So, these dependency kind of questions haven't really changed, right, so If the student is married, they're automatically considered independent. Um, they're going to answer where they are entering in school. So graduate students are automatically independent. And so through this, this, um, set of questions as we're answering it, this is for an, uh, a dependent student.

We're answering for someone who's kind of coming out of high school as, uh, you would be dealing with, uh, and then other factors. So If a student is older than 23, um, if they have dependents that they are supporting, uh, and I think sometimes that can be, uh, a tricky one. Um, I've had conversations where, you know, the, the student maybe has a dependent, but really their parents are the ones that are supporting that, um, dependent, um, active duty military or veteran, um, since the age of 13, they are an orphan foster care or board of the court, um, an emancipated minor, or they're in an In a legal guardianship, uh, and sometimes that's one where I have, say, a grandparent who has been a legal guardian for, uh, for a child, and they're wanting to complete, you know, the information about themselves, uh, that student is considered independent, you know, a grandparent or someone other than parent, um, should never be a contributor, uh, on that form, unless it's a, a step parent, uh, obviously, uh, questions on homelessness.

So if a student, um, is, Homeless, um, or self supporting and at risk of being homeless, they're considered, uh, independent. And then we get into what, um, is termed unusual circumstances. So, um, if a student, um, has kind of unusual circumstances and they are defined here, I know that it's really small, um, but, but here they're saying, Um, a person experiencing unusual circumstances may have left home due to an abusive, um, or threatening environment, abandoned, estranged from parents, um, and have not been adopted, granted refugee, asylee, uh, status, uh, victim of human trafficking, and it goes on.

But these are really kind of what unusual circumstances are. Um, it's never just that. A parent has decided they don't want to contribute to education. That certainly is a situation that does come up. But if a student can kind of answer yes to any of these, they could be allowed to have this kind of provisional independent student status, where they're not having to then go through and complete parent information.

What I will tell you, because you may know of a student who might be in this situation, They're likely, um, and, uh, 99%, right, if not 100, going to have to provide information from the school. The school will likely be reaching out to the student, um, to receive further information, um, verification, documentation of that, those kind of unusual circumstances, as we're really required, uh, to do.

So that's kind of the independent side, but we're going to move through the form, um, as if the student is a dependent student and it will, and it will note that right. It looks like you are a dependent student and there will be collecting parent information. There is an option so if a parent does so they don't have unusual circumstances, but a parent doesn't want to provide information.

The student is eligible for an unsubsidized loan only. Oftentimes, that's kind of really difficult for. For the typical student that I've dealt with, uh, an unsubsidized loan for a first year student will be about 5, 500. So depending on where they are looking to go to school, um, that's, that's a, that's a pretty, uh, tough, uh, tough, um, you know, level of funding to be able to progress.

But it certainly is an option. So also new on this FAFSA form for 2425 is what's called a parent wizard. So, um, it's a set of questions to guide the student through to determine basically who should be a contributor on my FAFSA form. So that's where we're getting to.

What parents are on the FAFSA? And this has changed slightly. Um, biological adoptive parents. Right. You're going to include both parents. If the parents are married or not married, right, and they're the biological adoptive parents, but they live together. Married parents include same sex couples. If parents are separated, but they are still living together, you should be selecting married.

And both of those parents are contributing on that FAFSA form. And then here's where the change is coming into place. In the case of divorced or separated parents, right. They have changed it to say the parent that provided more financial support in the past 12 months, um, and if that parent is remarried, That step parents information, and I think it's actually nice that they have added that language around step parent, because it was, it's always been the case that if that parent who's on the FAFSA was remarried there to include that that new spouses information but the The kind of language on the form was not clear.

So they have added that that word step parent. But this financial support being kind of the front line of who is completing the FAFSA is a change from the past where it had been. you know, who did the child live with more in the past 12 months? And then if that was, you know, 50 50, it did go to who provides more financial support.

If financial support was equal, they are saying the Department of Education select the parent with the higher income and assets. If no financial support was given to the student in the past 12 months, select the parent who provided the most support in the year when the student Last received support from a parent.

So that has all been provided. Um, and, you know, is, is clarifying information on the FAFSA form. So once that student kind of walks through that parent wizard, uh, the student is then going to. Invite the parent to be contributor on the FAFSA form, um, it, it really probably would be a great suggestion to have students and parents sitting together if that's possible in filling out that form, because they're going to need the parent social security number, uh, email address, um, it doesn't have to be the same email address if the, if the parent already has an FSA ID, um, but, uh, you know, you want to have that information.

So the student is going to be asked some, um, kind of different questions, um, these next two slides. Student demographic, so asking about gender, um, you know, you can see here male, female, non binary, or prefer not to answer. What's really important in these two slides is this red circle that any of these answers will not affect the student's eligibility for federal student aid.

It's not going to be used in the calculation of determining what they're eligible for. And probably most important, particularly for the next slide, is it will not be shared with the school to which the student applies. And you'll see why I say that's most important for the next. So student race and ethnicity, you know, kind of with everything going on.

I think it's important to note that a they can prefer not to answer should they choose, but answering any of these questions is not going to affect anything with their aid and will not be shared. To any of the institutions.

So then we move into student citizenship status. I feel like that's a tongue twister a little bit, but I know that I first was talking about parents who do not have a social security number. So it's always been a thing that, you know, you could have a parent who's a non citizen. The student is a citizen, right?

And that is okay. Students are required to be Um, you know, a parent might have to have either a US citizen or an eligible non citizen in order to be eligible for federal student aid, but they don't have to have a parent who is a US citizen. And that's the scenario where, um, you know, a parent might not have that social security number.

So you can see the listing here on the left of the different eligible non citizen, um, statuses. Citizenship is verified by different departments. I have had scenarios because if, if, if a student answers, I'm a U. S. citizen, um, that actually will go to the Social Security Administration, um, as what they call a database check, and they're checking to see, okay, Is this student with the information they provided a U.

S. citizen? Sometimes the institutions have to follow up with the student because it wasn't confirmed. I have had some instances where someone said they were a U. S. citizen, but they were actually an eligible non citizen. And so that check that was done with Social Security wasn't coming back because eligible non citizens, that check is done with the Department of Homeland Security.

Um, so students should be aware of, you know, their, their status, uh, in answering that correctly. Asks about parent education status, whether or not a parent was killed in the line of duty, and that has to do with eligibility for, uh, for a particular Pell Grant. Uh, asking about the student high school completion status, um, some, so, uh, asking whether it's, you know, they're going to receive a high school diploma, uh, you know, GED, homeschooled.

Or none of the above. Um, hopefully they're not answering that. That's something that, you know, we as an institution would need to follow up with. I think the typical answer a student coming out of high school is that high school diploma, which then they answer that. It will further ask, you know, what high school is, uh, that the student, um, uh, graduated from.

And it will pull up the list. Um, you can search, um, by, uh, by state and city and it pulls up that information. And then. This is where I said in the beginning, you might need to have your tax form there, um, and ready. So on the student side, um, it's going to ask the amount of any college grants, scholarship, um, or AmeriCorps benefits reported as income to the IRS.

Now, any student coming out of high school likely does not have an answer to this. I would say that a significant population of, um, college students also are not answering this question, although it is something that my office and our staff, um, sometimes we have to, um, get clarification. We have to update that because a student thinks that they should be putting, um, you know, a grant that they received from us, um, in this line, but it's really only if they paid tax.

On grant and scholarship and the and the only point that a student would be doing that is if the grants and scholarships exceeded what they pay for tuition fees, qualified education expense or tuition fees and room and board if they're living on campus. So it's it's usually fairly rare that a student has an amount that they're that they're reporting on there.

And then any foreign income exclusion they reporting there. So I would yeah. Assume that most students this is going to be two zeros on this particular slide, and then all other data information is going to be pulled directly from the IRS and different than the previous FAFSA where it was called the data retrieval tool and the student put some information in, they exited the FAFSA form and went into the IRS.

Entered information to then draw that data into their form, and it was at certain data. This is a complete separate process, um, that directly connects with the IRS. And that data does not come back into this FAFSA form. It is sent separately, um, through through a separate process directly to an institution.

So that so student is not going to see that tax data that they would have seen previously, although it was always X out when it came back into the FAFSA. It's going to ask about student asset information, again, very similar to what has been asked before, although for, um, Uh, and typically, probably this would be on the parent side, but, um, they're adding back in, because I am old enough that I remember when we used to always ask, the FAFSA asked about, um, business and farm income, um, but all business farm, um, is, uh, is now being asked rather than where it used to be excluding, um, kind of a small business farm where It was 100 or fewer employees and, uh, owned, mostly owned by, uh, the, the parent or the student, and that would be the net value.

Another change, um, it used to be 10 institutions that the, uh, student could put, um, on, uh, the FAFSA form. Now the student can select up to 20 schools. When I do this presentation, I always say, but I'm not suggesting that students should, uh, be selecting 20 schools, but That option is there rather than having to go back in.

Very similar, they get to search by state, city, or the school name to enter the institution.

You can see here that they're kind of numbered and the student can actually reorder. So I know here in the state of Massachusetts, um, you know, the basically once a student decides where they're actually going, they should make sure that that institution is listed as the first school because that's where the state will be kind of, um, looking and sending information.

So they'll want to reorder that. I do want to note, though, uh, on that last slide, just because I know there have been many years ago concern that institutions were using that information of kind of where they were in that order. Um, I never thankfully worked at an institution that, uh, that did that. Um, but it is still the case that we as institutions can only see our own.

Um, code listed. I can't see other institutions. So I, I just want to kind of note that that that's still a thing that we can't see that. And so hopefully that isn't something that is of concern. So then it's a process of just kind of reviewing the student information. So again, different because this is the student contributor going in right.

All they're seeing is their own information. So when they're reviewing, it's their information that they provided, rather than in the old FAFSA where it was All of the information, um, and they're reviewing that. So, and again, um, that, uh, IRS data is not going to show up here, uh, because it, it goes directly to, uh, an institution.

So, contributor details. So, the student already kind of went through the wizard, uh, who they're, they're, um, asking as a contributor. So, those invitations were already sent. So, they can see, uh, that right there. And then the student will need to sign, right, so they are agreeing to terms conditions, uh, the kind of typical, uh, signature, uh, and confirmation, um, that, uh, that has been always done with the FAFSA form.

So now the students section is complete, right, but of course it's, you're almost there, uh, because there's still more, uh, that needs to happen. We need those contributors, uh, to share their information.

There's a parent email that will get sent. So this is kind of just an example of that. So the parent will get an email invitation to do the FAFSA parent clicks, they can click login right from that email. And, you know, there's, there's information that kind of stresses that the FAFSA by filling it out by contributing does not make the parent financially responsible.

And, um, Also, a parent can start the FAFSA, um, before the student, uh, and so we will, uh, kind of look at that process, uh, as well. So, parent enters their FSA ID just like the student did. Uh, again, if the parent doesn't have an FSA ID, they can click on create account here, but they are not able to then pop right back in and complete, um, uh, the FAFSA without first getting, um, that FSA ID.

They'll have an activity page. Um, you can see on this one that parent, um, you know, is, is having some other interactions with the Department of Education, right? So they have a borrower defense claim in and, um, a, uh, PSLF application. So, um, you know, that, that student account ID, that FSA ID is specific to, you know, to each person.

It isn't just for completing the FAFSA, so I think that's, you know, important to know. It tracks all of, you know, your history there with the Department of Education with, say, your own loans, if you as a parent have those, as well as, excuse me, any FAFSA applications and contributor applications. It goes through again that whole being a parent contributor.

I think there's a little bit more information here. Um, and so, uh, they're going to go through those also those same or onboarding slides that we looked at on the student side. Again, just like the student, their information is here to review. Um, they couldn't update the mailing address just like the student, but if there's anything else that needs to be, uh, updated, um, probably the only thing that might be updated is maybe mobile phone or, uh, or an email address.

Um, but otherwise, usually those are pretty locked in. And then the parent is going to need to provide consent. It's, it's the same as what the student did and went through. Um, again, if they don't provide consent, the student is, uh, ineligible, which you can see, you know, up here, it listed at the top, uh, even though that doesn't seem all that large, um, you know, If they press, uh, no, uh, a screen will pop right up and let them know.

Um, you know, basically, are you sure that you want to decline consent because the student will be ineligible. So it goes through the parent marital status. Um, so we're answering this. This particular student was the parent is married, not separated. It goes through questions of, did the parent household in 22 or 23, uh, receive any of these kind of means benefit tests?

Um, if none of them apply, they click none apply. Um, but by answering some of these, it may mean that, um, they're not having to answer some, uh, questions of some asset questions. It will ask, um, whether or not, um, the parent, you know, filed, uh, with their current spouse. So again, this is determining is it really just one contributor or in a married, um, you know, parent situation.

And if they answered no, uh, we filed separately. That's going to, um, let the, the form know like, okay, we're going to need then another contributor to the form family size. So this is, um, different than in past years. You can see here, this first bullet point, the FAFSA will automatically assume the family size based on the tax return.

Um, we do know, and I've seen this, uh, time and again in reviewing, um, you know, tax returns, uh, that. You know, sometimes in the case of, uh, divorced families that, um, kind of claiming a child, maybe something that bumps from year to year. So there is the option here on the slide to, um, where, where they're asking has the family size changed, right, from that 2022, uh, tax return.

So the, um, the family could, uh, update and change what the family size was, uh, from the tax return. So number in college, um, It's still something that's reported, uh, but I'm sure, uh, you have all heard, uh, because I feel like that was something that was, was a leading headline for, uh, many months, uh, that that is no longer, um, you know, part of the calculation of determining a student's financial aid eligibility.

I will, um, just kind of note on that topic of, uh, the change in, uh, numbering college. The. The two real reasons for the significant right this is the most significant changes in 40 years to this forum, and it was for two reasons to make it easier to apply right so rather than about 108 questions were down to a maximum of 36.

That are being asked. And then on the other side is to increase eligibility. So even though there is that number in college that has been removed, there are a lot of allowances that are more generous. We're seeing that there's across the board and increase And the number of students that are eligible to receive a Pell Grant.

Uh, and so I just, I just like to highlight that because I, I do feel like there were so many headlines that led with, you know, aid being kind of pulled, pulled back potentially because of this, uh, number in college. So even when I would look at using, um, you know, tools that, that, that look at the new formula with our current students.

And zoning in on that number in college, I wasn't seeing that for all of those students, um, that it was going to be, you know, this, this drastic, uh, increase, um, or the same sort of increase that I would have seen when they no longer have, um, say two or three in school, certainly at the much higher incomes, you're going to see that, um, but, but I do just like to point that out.

So parent, um, tax return information, very similar to on the student side, asking about the grant scholarship, um, foreign income exclusion, also asking about the earned income credit, um, as well, uh, so that is where, you know, it, the parent should have that tax return with them. Again, it may be that they're answering no and zero.

For all of these questions. Um, but it's always good to have that, uh, have that in hand, uh, when they are completing the form so that they know, um, uh, you know, that they're answering it 100 percent correct parent assets. So, as I noted through the presentation that They can only ask income questions. This is written into law that are coming off of the tax return.

So for child support received, this is now being reported as an asset, which at the end of the day, the difference between it being reported as income and asset is a benefit because it's an income driven formula. So this in some ways kind of I don't know if this is the right way to say it, but waters down, I guess, you know, what that, what reporting that, uh, actually goes, how it goes into the formula.

Um, just as normal kind of current balance of cash, savings, checking account, uh, real estate, um, Again, if it's not your primary home residence, um, and, um, or let's say if a family has a, a two family or a three family, you know, you're reporting, you know, uh, one half or, uh, two thirds, uh, of that, whatever you're living in would not be reported.

Um, 529 accounts, um, have always been. If the parent is the owner of that asset and the student, the beneficiary, it is being reported as a parent asset, but a change is that it's only the 529 account for the student whose FAFSA you are contributing to, um, which is very different than in the past where it was reporting 529 for all students, um, that, you know, were in your household.

And then it excludes primary home life insurance retirement accounts. I should also note on the side, usually the largest amount of untaxed income I would see with families was, um, uh, retirement, you know, coming out of income that would be reported on a W 2. So contributions were 401k or 403b. Because those are not on the tax return itself.

Those are not Information that's being pulled out from the I. R. S. and not being asked about as I kind of alluded to net value of all business and farm in the in the past that kind of 100 employees or less kind of a small business farm. Um, they did not have to report on if parent income is less than 60, 000.

Um, they're not going to have to be answering, uh, asset questions. It's a little bit of a higher income threshold than in the past. So, um, the parent is going to provide information about the other parents. That's if they're married or living together. Um, and then similar to the student review page, there's a parent review page, a little bit smaller, because they're answering less questions.

They're not putting those, um, school questions as one example. So they can expand all of these and take a look. I usually always say to review, um, I have seen instances in the past and, you know, let's say on assets, you know, someone kind of hits an extra zero, uh, and, uh, you just want to make sure that all of that information is correct.

Again, anything transferred, um, from the IRS is not coming into the FAFSA form itself. It's going to get hooked up, um, outside Uh, and sent directly to the institution. There's the parent signature page, just the same as the student signature page. Uh, and then, you know, they, they get to the congratulations, uh, page.

Uh, if the parent completed, um, you know, if they're the, they're the kind of last one and the last contributor, um, then it gets fully, um, submitted and congratulations. Everything is all set. So in this instance, where we had parents married and they filed jointly. It was just that one parent contributor that needed to get to the point of completion, along with that student who already completed and the student is going to get, um, you know, a detailed confirmation email.

So if the parent wants to be the one to start. They can do that. So when we first started, we started as the student, and then they invited the parent contributors. So now we're going to pop in as the parent starting the form, they're going to click on start new form, put in their FSA ID, and then they will answer that they are the parent as the role.

They can begin to provide student information. since the student has not started a FAFSA, their student will end up receiving an email notification that a FAFSA has been started on their behalf. So then the student can log in, provide their consent for IRS data transfer, and sign the FAFSA. The parent can't answer, the parent can answer student questions, um, but, um, The parent can't like manually enter tax information, the student still has to go in with that FSA ID, FSA ID, they have to provide consent, and they have to sign the FAFSA.

I, this is just my own kind of, I guess, plug because I've heard different situations where, you know, Oh, you know, I'm just going to take the students FSA ID and I'll provide consent and I'll sign for them. Um, On the other end, you know, as an administrator at an institution where things drastically change once a student is in college, um, we have, uh, you know, with certain privacy laws with FERPA, we can only really be talking with the student unless certain consent is given, but Everything goes to the student, the bill, uh, any communications having to sign for their loans.

So it's really important in my personal opinion that the student really becomes, uh, comfortable with, um, taking some ownership in this process and that they are the one, um, and, you know, honestly, they're providing consent and agreeing to, um, and signing a form which says, I've, I've completed this. I am, you know, providing accurate information to the best of my knowledge.

So they're signing off on that really should be the students on the student section that is doing that. So, um, it used to be called a student aid report. I do think that this name makes a lot more sense, but the kind of. Output or the summary of FAFSA is going is called the FAFSA submission summary, another tongue twister for us, but calling it the FSS.

The student will receive that. I will note, you can see here on the bottom that for, um, For anyone who's completing it, basically in the month of January, um, the FAFSA submission summaries are not going to be ready until basically the end of January. But let's say a student, you know, in February, uh, completes the, the FAFSA.

They should be receiving that FAFSA submission summary within one to three days, which was kind of the normal timeframe that, uh, in the past iteration of the FAFSA form, the student aid report. Same item, you know, was received. Um, we as institutions, you should know this, um, are also not going to receive our output.

So there's the FAFSA submission summary that the student gets. We as institutions receive something called an institutional student information report, ICER. We're also not going to get those until about the end of January. And so, um, we're not going to be able to calculate, uh, and determine a student's, you know, full eligibility until that point.

So I would, um, expect that institutions, particularly if they're only using the FAFSA, but then to do any sort of, um, Uh, finalized. We'll not be getting those out until at least, uh, February.

On the, um, FAFSA submission summary, there is kind of this, uh, eligibility. Uh, it lists the Student Aid Index. Um, you likely have heard this term, that it is replacing, uh, the EFC. I did have an interesting conversation yesterday with someone who has been involved in conversations, but they said, Oh, but the EFC is like totally gone.

It's like it is, but it's really just replaced with this new figure. So When you, when you complete the FAFSA and you're collecting information, there's, there's a formula to get down to what was the EFC and is now the SAI. So it is, um, it looks different, the number, it can go to a negative where an EFC could only go to zero, but it works in the same way and is kind of determined in the same way, but there are changes to The formula itself, as I noted, some allowances are larger, uh, and so you will see a difference between perhaps a student's EFC in a past year and that SAI, the Student Aid Index, which is the new figure, um, that helps determine what a student is eligible for.

Some of the changes, um, that, that went into place, um, now allow A more accurate figure to display as far as a Pell grant and what a student is going to be eligible for up to a certain amount, really depending on them cost information about direct loan. I really hope that it stays this way where it says federal work study, you may be eligible because in in the kind of student aid index calculator that's on the Department of Education.

Education's page that I've used for a few different people. It gives an amount for work study which, um, based on me trying to use very different situations, it wasn't accurate. So I hope it does say you may be eligible and remains that way.

And the student's going to see all of the information again that was on the form. And one more note again that the data transferred from the IRS is not going to display on the page. This is something, uh, new that is added in where, um, for each of the institutions, it's going to be drawing information from, uh, the scorecard, uh, and so be presenting the student with, um, you know, graduation rate, retention rate, transfer default, uh, average annual cost, um, I will say I did reach out to, um, uh, the Department of Ed and got an answer saying that they couldn't just update the information, but that average annual cost, um, right now, that data is still looking back, um, into, um, like the most recent year that they had on file, I think was 21.

Um, our institution was actually fully remote. Uh, and so our average annual cost looks lower. Then what it should be because that year really no one was living on campus, which meant that their cost of attendance was lower, which means that their financial aid eligibility was lower. So I do just like to note that it's not going to be for every institution, but just noting it since they're pulling that right into the FAFSA form.

It's going to provide next steps, um, and, um, there'll be comments based on how the student, um, you know, answered, uh, answered the form. And then what happens after, so colleges, uh, the states will receive information electronically. Again, for anyone kind of jumping 31st, January 1st, it's not going to be until the end of January.

Um, colleges may request additional documentation. Just as we have in the past, I will say that I was hoping that verification would just go away because we'll be getting the data directly from the I. R. S. But, uh, the Department of Ed, you know, kind of said, Well, you know, it'll still be there. Look different.

Um, so, uh, so there may be things that we still need to, uh, do a little bit of verification and collect on. And then, you know, colleges are going to be sending out financial aid offers, I would say, you know, anywhere from, you know, February through April. So we're about at the end here. Here are some kind of resources that can be tapped into by families, FAFSA day.

Massachusetts is free assistance completing the FAFSA. There will be events, um, you know, kind of throughout the time frame when, uh, families are typically completing the FAFSA, and this has been, uh, going on for many years, uh, and we keep kind of reinventing how we do it as, uh, the world changed to be more remote, as the FAFSA change, uh, you know, we're still, kind of, uh, figuring all of that out.

The, uh, educa Educational opportunity centers, a great resource for free financial aid help. Um, so, you know, the, the websites are here. So certainly something to, uh, to note, uh, and to look into and share with students and families. Um, Things to do register for other MIFA webinars. Um, you know, I have been volunteering probably for 25 years, I think, uh, doing MIFA, uh, presentations at local high schools.

I believe in, um, what they do. Um, they're a great organization. Uh, I've always signed up for their emails to ensure if I'm telling, you know, counselors or families to do that, that Bye. Bye. That I know that the information is is good. That's being shared on and I'm not getting, you know, a lot of junk. It's great information.

These are great people that provide wonderful resources tell students and parents to get the FSA ID. You know, as soon as possible really kind of stress that maybe providing help, particularly if you happen to work at a school that may have a higher population of Students who have parents. who don't have a social security number.

So perhaps, um, you know, once, uh, you know, back, uh, in January, that might be something to look into. Um, and then just always, you know, advising families to look at deadlines, required application, uh, you know, what's available at an institution as far as financial aid, uh, and, you know, encouraging them to complain.

The FAFSA as soon as possible. I think a lot of people are thinking like, Oh my goodness, the FAFSA is going to crash on December 31st. So, um, you know, I, I think hopefully that's not the case, but you know what? I think even if you, you do it on January 2nd, that's still, uh, nice and early. And, uh, and maybe if there is a crash, you don't get caught up in that.

Here are some upcoming NIFA Institute webinars, so, um, I will, um, just leave that there for one moment, uh, so that you can note that, but I'm sure, um, you know, you can, you can, again, find more information. I still, when I'm doing, uh, virtual presentations, as if I'm in person, I am pointing at the screen, but you can't see my hand, uh, down there, but at the bottom of the screen, uh, the NIFA.

org, uh, NIFA Institute, uh, website, NIFA. org website. Has more events there where you can find these and register for those connect with MIFA in a whole host of ways at that wonderful MIFA podcast. Hopefully people tune into that. And I think that perhaps we are at questions now. So I will stop sharing my screen and I'm not sure if there's any lingering questions.

Um, that you guys. Thank you, Amy. Oh, so, so wonderful. So much information. Thank you all. Um, I'm going to give it a minute to see if people have questions that you feel weren't covered. Um, and just to have a shout out for another event that you can tell your, or actually multiple events that you can tell your students and your families about, which is, um, the first one coming up, we're calling it our FAFSA festival, and it's going to be January 24th, As a drop in zoom meeting from 4 to 6 p.

m. where a student or a family can can join and we can pair them up with an expert financial aid person like someone like Amy or people on her staff and help with any of their questions on the FAFSA. Maybe someone starts a FAFSA and gets a little unsure about something. Um, or, you know, whatever questions, whatever part of Where they are in the process, we will help them complete the FAFSA and that's planned already.

And you can send your families the link to MIFA. org slash events, and they'll be able to see FAFSA festival and register right there. And after that, I know the other great organization here in Massachusetts that Amy showed you, FAFSA Day Massachusetts is going to have similar events, February, March.

Right into April. So, um, you can also direct your students and your families to FAFSAdayMA. org. And that's another place where people can get that one on one FAFSA help. So, I don't, I don't see any questions, um. That means you didn't, you, you answered everything, Amy. Well, thank you. And again, as Amy just said, please just stay in touch with all of us.

This, um, this is an unusual year and things are a little bit delayed. So anything that comes up for you, um, please stay in touch with us. And, um, please. Oh, one, one question. Just thank you is very thorough, Amy and thank you and thank you all very much. And Sean, thank you. I know you answered a huge number of questions behind the scenes and everyone have have a great a great day.

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