Buffalo, NY – As the U.S. Department of Education launches its broad overhaul of the federal financial aid system and more specifically the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Canisius University is taking a proactive approach to ensure the changes have a minimal impact on both current and prospective students. The new 2024-2025 FAFSA opened with a 'soft launch' on December 31, 2023 and is "a more streamlined application process,” explains James Nowak, associate director of enrollment and financial aid at Canisius University. “But there are also significant changes to the application process and how aid is calculated that may have substantial effects on students’ eligibility for financial aid.”
Nowak is raising awareness and educating students, parents, guardians and guidance counselors about the important changes to the federal aid process. To date, he has presented at more than 20 local high schools and hosted a Buffalo Public School Counselor Professional Development and Information Session.
Among the most helpful changes to the FAFSA process: a shorter form, more straightforward questions and its availability in more languages. Prospective students can list up to 20 colleges on their FAFSA (up from 10), and students and parents now have their income verified through Direct Data Exchange with the Internal Revenue Service. Moreover, “the new FAFSA formula makes an additional 600,000-plus students from low-income backgrounds eligible for Pell Grants,” notes Nowak. The Federal Pell Grant program is the largest of its kind, designed to help low-income students. The intention behind the FAFSA simplification is to get Pell dollars into the hands of the families who need them the most.
There are other key changes, however, that may hinder the FAFSA process for students, delay delivery of their financial aid packages or eliminate them all together. Included among them are:
1. Students need to apply for TAP directly - The application programming interface (API), which allows students who have submitted a FAFSA online to electronically transfer data they provided on their application to their New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), will NOT be available for the entirety of the 2024-2025 academic year. Instead, students need to apply for TAP directly. The Canisius University TAP school code is 0090.
2. Elimination of Multiple Household Benefit – Beginning with the 2024-2025 academic year, the longstanding FAFSA accommodation available to families with multiple children enrolled in college disappears.
Under the old FAFSA formula, a family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) was divided equally by the number of children they have in college simultaneously. For the 2024-25 FAFSA and beyond, the multiple household benefit no longer factors into the needs-analysis calculations. This change may negatively impact financial aid eligibility for families with more than one student enrolled in college at the same time.
Canisius University is committed to assisting those affected by the policy change:
Prospective Students who apply for admission for the 2024-25 academic year and indicate that they have additional family members in college automatically qualify for an annual $1,000 Sibling Grant.
To help offset the anticipated financial burden for Enrolled Students, Canisius University is working closely with those impacted to help fill any financial gaps resulting from the elimination of the multiple household benefit.
3. A Disrupted Application Cycle - The new 2024-25 FAFSA opened on December 31, 2023, a three-month delay from the traditional October 1 release date. This means that colleges and universities will not receive FAFSA information from prospective students until late January 2024. In turn, that will push back the delivery of financial aid packages to prospective students to the end of February or early March.
“The delay in delivery of financial aid packages equates to a shorter window for potential students to consider offers from their chosen colleges and decide which to accept,” says Nowak, who notes that many higher education institutions require commitments by May 1. “This shrunken timeline makes it all the more essential that students submit their FAFSA as soon as it opens.”
To assist students and families work through the new financial aid timeline, Canisius University has made available a step-by-step guide on its website.
“A university education is one of the most important and valuable investments students and their families will make, as it involves a significant financial commitment,” states Nowak. “Our financial aid team is dedicated to helping make Canisius University an affordable option and will work closely with all families to provide as much support as possible to close any gaps created by the federal policy changes and FAFSA.”
Canisius was founded in 1870 in Buffalo, NY, and is one of 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. Consistently ranked among the top institutions in the Northeast, Canisius offers undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional programs distinguished by close student-faculty collaboration, mentoring and an emphasis on ethical, purpose-driven leadership.