The launch date for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, has been delayed.

It typically opens on October 1 each year, but a report from Federal Student Aid says that a redesigned form will be available by the end of December.

The new FAFSA form will expand eligibility for federal student aid and will offer a new simplified user experience for students and their families. The changes include updated eligibility for over 600,000 low-income students to be eligible to receive federal Pell Grants due to student aid calculation updates.

Paula Clay with the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development does not think the delay means fewer students will apply for financial aid to go to college.

“The FAFSA is delayed due to what’s called the FAFSA Simplification Act,” said Clay. “There were some changes as part of that act of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. It’s bringing significant changes to the financial aid application process.”

Depending on individual circumstances, applicants will be able to skip as many as 26 FAFSA questions.

“Students will still have an opportunity to utilize the FAFSA and complete it,” she said. “It does give probably some people a little bit of heartburn.”

If you did not submit a form for this current school year, create an account on Student Aid.gov and remember your password, so you can access and submit the FAFSA form when it is available. Make sure it is created and updated – for both the student, the parent, or the spouse.

“Students and parents/contributors must provide consent to retrieve and disclose federal tax information, the IRS, from students to be eligible for student aid,” Clay said. “So they will have to consent to having the IRS exchange their data with the Department of Education to be eligible for financial aid.”

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