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Redesigned FAFSA can be filled out in about 10 minutes, Princeton aid levels won’t change

A stone building is illuminated with warm light. There's a bench outside.
The exterior of Morrison Hall in the evening.
Jean Shin / The Daily Princetonian

A redeveloped Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), slated for release by the end of the month, will significantly shorten the process for applicants, including those to Princeton. As reports speculate that this may lead to students receiving less aid than previous iterations, the University says its financial aid program will not be impacted.

The Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) claims that the newly reconfigured 2024–2025 FAFSA is “​​the most ambitious and significant redesign of the processes to apply for federal student aid” since it was introduced during the Reagan administration. The application has been significantly reduced in length, cutting back from over 100 questions to under 20 for the upcoming college admissions cycle. The new form is estimated to take about 10 minutes to fill out, as opposed to the previous iteration which sometimes took families over an hour.


The previous FAFSA application process typically called for the provision of 1040s, W2s, and multiple other types of tax forms, along with detailed personal and familial information. Now, the ED directly receives tax information already held by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), removing the “burdensome and confusing step of connecting to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.”

Evelyn Chen ’26 spoke to The Daily Princetonian in support of the new condensed version of the FAFSA application and expressed that the current version was “overly complicated” and often left her and her parents confused. 

Chen believes the revised FAFSA will make the process “so much simpler for families who need it, especially for families that are not as literate or familiar with English,” she said. 

In a statement to the ‘Prince,’ University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss expects this “IRS Direct Data Exchange with the FAFSA [to] reduce data entry errors and cut down on the number of corrections to FAFSA data necessary to process federal aid.”

There have been concerns from advocate groups that the revised FAFSA will also lead to lower financial aid due to a new model. The revised FAFSA form uses the Student Aid Index (SAI) model to replace the Expected Family Contribution model for determining student eligibility for aid. The SAI will be calculated using consumer prices from 2020 — numbers that do not reflect the rapid nationwide increase in inflation over the past three years.

Hotchkiss reaffirmed Princeton’s promise to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need. “The FAFSA Simplification Act does not impact Princeton’s commitment to meeting a student’s full demonstrated need,” he said.


Changes in awarded aid will have little impact on the total financial aid that accepted students receive because Princeton awards aid to students based on internal financial aid formulas, calculated from the Princeton Financial Aid Application (PFAA) that students fill out separately from the FAFSA application.

According to the Undergraduate Financial Aid Office, calculations are made by first “considering external funds awarded to you (such as federal, state, and other funds), and then filling the remaining gap with Princeton University Grant.”

Jesse Rothstein — a professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley — who was on the Council of Economic Advisers when these FAFSA reforms were introduced, told the ‘Prince’ in an email that this new, much shorter form nearly, but perhaps not perfectly, replicates the financial aid awards computed from the previous version.

“Of course, ‘nearly replicate’ isn’t exactly replicate, and some of the changes may lead to less calculated need for some students (but more for others),” Rothstein wrote in his email to the ‘Prince.’ 

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Rothstein added, “Princeton certainly has the resources to top up the aid calculation for the former group, so they are not harmed by the change if it chooses to do so.”

This redesign of the eligibility calculation model will also allow for the consideration of family size and federal poverty level so that “610,000 new students from low-income backgrounds” can be eligible for Pell Grants, monetary awards that do not require repayment for low-income students. 

The new FAFSA application will open for all U.S. students on Dec. 31, 2023, instead of Oct. 1 as in previous years.

Hotchkiss said that this altered release date “should have no impact on the aid decision timeline for returning students and students admitted through the regular decision and transfer programs at Princeton.” He added that students admitted with early action will receive tentative aid packages until their FAFSA application is able to be submitted.

The new FAFSA follows the University’s expansion of its financial aid program to eliminate all student contributions and provide full aid to all families with annual incomes up to $100,000, with tiered aid packages for higher-income families. Princeton’s improved financial aid program took effect starting this fall.

Claire Meng is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’

Sofia Arora is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’

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