The Federal Student Aid office recently announced FAFSA changes that will go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year. Other news and media outlets, such as Forbes, have covered these changes – and reported incorrect information. This is not only poor journalism, but it’s vastly unhelpful to so many that are desperately trying to find answers to their questions. That’s why we’re here to help clarify a few things. 

We know this can be a stressful time, and we want to ensure that you and your college-bound family are armed with information to make the best possible decisions about filling out their FAFSA in the coming year. Here’s everything you need to know about the FAFSA changes, including the timeline for changes to take effect.

7 FAFSA Changes

FAFSA Change 1: Removal of Drug Conviction Questions

Past FAFSA forms have asked questions about drug convictions. These questions will be removed from the 2023–24 FAFSA® form to open the need up to additional applicants and not ask unnecessary or off-putting questions. 


FAFSA Change 2: myStudentAid Application Is Retired

In previous years, the FAFSA could be submitted via a mobile application – myStudentAid. The application is being retired and you will no longer be able to file with the mobile app.  

Applicants can either submit their FAFSA online using a desktop computer or laptop, or they can go to to submit their FAFSA application using a mobile device browser (Safari, Google Chrome, etc.). 

Tips to Securely Complete the FAFSA Online

Before you submit any personal or financial information, here are a few things to remember: 

  1.  Please always double check if the website you’re on to complete the FAFSA is a .gov web address. These addresses are verified and secured. If it’s a .com, .net, etc, it is not an official financial aid website.
  2. Verify that the address has https:// in the url, proving it’s the secure website 
  3. Ensure you’re on a personal device or have a secure connection on the device you’re using, be it mobile or otherwise. If you are using a public computer, use an incognito browser so your information cannot be tracked and doesn’t save. We always suggest using a trusted, personal device when applying for, approving, or verifying financial aid. 

We will only share the correct, secure site to access the FAFSA, so feel free to use our links in full faith that they are accurate and not fraudulent or predatory posers. 


FAFSA Change 3: FAFSA Simplification Act Changes

The FAFSA Simplification Act was recently passed by Congress to expand access to Federal Aid and streamline the application form. 

This includes:

  1. Overhaul of the FAFSA form (for example – going from over 100 questions to closer to 36) to simplify the process and save time for applicants by eliminating unnecessary steps.
  2. Changes in how need is assessed to allow expanded access to federal aid.
  3. Procedure changes for schools to participate in Title IV programs.

Learn more about the FAFSA application: Applying for Financial Aid: FAFSA and CSS Profile


FAFSA Change 4: Gender Identification Questions

To keep with a more modern and applicable application for every applicant, questions asking specifically whether the applicant is male or female have been removed across all platforms. A big step in making federal aid more accessible to all. 

Learn more about how to answer gender identification questions for your transgender student: College Applications and Financial Aid for Transgender Students


FAFSA Change 5: Selective Service Eligibility is no longer requiring Selective Service match. Previously, students were required to have a Select Service Match or produce a qualified exemption to receive financial aid. Now, questions asking applicants to indicate that they were interested in registering for the Selective Service have been removed across all platforms. 


FAFSA Change 6: Incarcerated Students

Per the FAFSA Simplification Act, incarcerated students will regain eligibility to access federal Pell Grants. 

How do you know if your student would classify as incarcerated? Students are identified as incarcerated if:

  1. Address on the FAFSA forms matches an address in the FAFSA program’s correctional facility file.
  2. An applicant submits a paper FAFSA form specifically developed for incarcerated applicants.
  3. The FAA submits an application for incarcerated students and sets the “incarcerated applicant” flag.


FAFSA Change 7: Need Analysis Income Threshold

Each year, there is an income threshold that equals an “automatic zero” when the FAFSA helps to calculate a family’s expected family contribution (EFC). Your ECF is calculated based on your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (i.e. unemployment or Social Security). Schools use this calculation to determine eligibility and financial aid rewards. 

The more ECF calculated, unfortunately, the less your student qualifies for. But the good news is, for the 2023-2024 school year, this threshold has been increased from $27,000 to $29,000. 

Learn more: When Your Expected Family Contribution is Too High


Key Takeaways

Truth be told, the FAFSA change rollout for the 2023-2024 school year doesn’t look as though it’s going to have a dramatic impact on applicants or their families – but that’s actually a win! The FAFSA changes made are positive ones to help get more aid to students which is a major plus in our books. You can look forward to a simpler application and fewer restrictions as you fill out the 2023-2024 forms. 

However, the significant changes that were passed in the FAFSA Simplification Act are going to be effective on the 10/1/23 FAFSA that affects the 2024-2025 school year. For example, if you have multiple kids in college at the same time or you are divorced/separated, there are going to be big changes coming that could dramatically affect your financial aid eligibility. We encourage all college-bound families to join the MyCAP community to stay informed on these upcoming changes.

Joining our community gives you first-hand access to thousands of resources, including being the first to know about FAFSA changes. Not only will you get access to a free software application to help you organize your college funding journey, but you’ll also have access to regular educational webinars and events hosted by our team of experts. We stay on top of FAFSA changes so you don’t have to! Register for your free account by clicking here.