There is a constant in the world of college applications: change. In pandemic times we have seen many higher education institutions move to test-optional status—forgoing the once almighty SATs and ACTs. We have also witnessed the move to many online learning options and scenarios. And as we look ahead to the 2022-2023 school year and beyond, even the way we apply for financial aid has changed.

College Ready encourages all of its clients to apply—no matter their financial situation—for FAFSA. FAFSA is the fun-to-say acronym for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The application, which opens on October 1, collects financial data from students and families to assess need for aid. The FAFSA can also serve as a gateway to grants for college.

College Ready’s founder Shellee Howard, offers this advice about FAFSA: “A popular question from families is often, ‘What if I don’t want to share my financial information?’ The truth is: The government already has your taxes. Your financial information is available to them. If you do not fill out the FAFSA, you’re leaving potential money on the table.” Here are some real numbers from College Ready clients: Our students have earned more than $10.7 million in scholarships; FAFSA is the first step to earning that kind of money for college.

College Ready is unique in that as a company, we consider the return on investment for our clients. In order to find the best fit schools, we carefully examine the academic fit, social fit, AND financial fit before the student applies.

When it comes to applying, note that most new changes to the FAFSA won’t actually go into effect until the form for the 2023-2024 school year is in place. However, these are changes worth noting:

• SIMPLIFIED. While financial forms like FAFSA are often especially complex, the number of questions on the current FAFSA has been reduced by two-thirds. Rather than 100 questions, there are only a few dozen to fill out.

• RECALCULATED. Coming in 2023-2024 is another major change: no more EFC or Expected Family Contribution (the dollar-amount of education costs families are expected to cover). Instead, the form will feature a (hopefully) simplified and easier-to-follow Student Aid Index (SAI). Since FAFSA has to be completed each year, it will be key to note upcoming changes like this one.

• ACCESS GRANTED. Ideally, the new/future financial formulas will expand access to federal Pell grants for many students.

College Ready recommends some great resources for more FAFSA information including:

Be sure to mark October 1, 2021 on your calendar for FAFSA’s submission period. Financial aid applications ought to be submitted as soon as possible after the opening date.

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