What’s New and Noteworthy in Aid
Launch of the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form
The U.S. Department of Education has announced that the newly overhauled 2024-2024 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will open to students and families by December 31, 2023. At this time, the exact date of FAFSA availability for academic year 2024-2025 is unkown.
Unexpectedly, institutions of higher education were recently advised that the delivery of processed FAFSA data to schools will be delayed, possibly until the end of January 2024. This means that even though students and families will be able to complete the FAFSA in December, the results of their FAFSA data will not be available to schools and state aid programs until later in January.
With this said, there are major changes and improvements coming to the 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Changes include:
- expanded eligibility for federal student aid and
- a more streamlined application process.
Stay informed about the changes and receive up-to-date notifications and information:
- Did you fill out a FAFSA form for 2023–24? Log in to your StudentAid.gov account to confirm that your email address is current. Once the launch date of the 2024-2025 is announced, the U.S. Department of Education will send email notification to students (and parents of dependent students) if they completed a 2023-2024 FAFSA form. That is why is it important to update your email if it has changed since completing the 2023-2024 FAFSA form.
- If you did not submit a 2023–24 FAFSA form please make sure to create your StudentAid.gov account—and remember your username and password so you can access and submit the 2024–25 FAFSA form when it is available.
- You can also follow Federal Student Aid on social media for announcements and resources.
Repayment of Student Loans:
As a result of the debt ceiling agreement, the current student loan repayment pause is going to end at the end of August 2023. The debt ceiling bill codifies the end of the repayment pause and does not allow for additional extensions of the repayment pause.
Student loan interest will resume starting on Sept. 1, 2023, and payments will be due starting in October.
The Biden administration is working towards a smooth transition to ensure student loan payments are reasonable and manageable. However, we recommend that you prepare now. Here are some tips to get started:
- Locate your student loan servicer. The company that manages your student loans may have changed since the repayment pause began. Find your student loan servicer by logging into StudenAid.gov.
- Contact your servicer. Log in to your servicer’s website or call them. Make sure your contact information is up to date. Ask what payment plans are available and set up auto pay.
- Consider an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. We suggest you complete the paperwork now if you plan to sign up for an IDR plan.
The repayment pause is separate from the Biden’s Administration debt relief proposal which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Borrowers should contact their student loan servicer with questions.
One-Time Student Loan Debt Relief -Blocked:
The Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.
WATCH OUT FOR STUDENT LOAN SCAMMERS:
Link to the web page below for important information on how to identify a student loan scam:
Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB):
The Affordable Connectivity Program replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit on December 31, 2021. Learn more about the Affordable Connectivity Program by visiting fcc.gov/ACP.
FAFSA Updates to the Selective Service Requirement and Drug-Related Convictions:
On December 27, 2020, the FAFSA Simplification Act (Act) was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The Act makes many important changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Two significant changes are listed below:
- The requirement that male students register with the Selective Service before the age of 26 to be eligible for federal student aid under Title IV of the HEA (Title IV); and
- Suspension of eligibility for Title IV aid for drug-related convictions that occurred while receiving Title IV aid.
2021-2022 Award Year
Beginning with the 2021-2022 award year, the Selective Service and drug conviction questions (as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA) will remain on the FAFSA. However, failing to register with the Selective Service or having a drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid will no longer impact a student’s Title IV aid eligibility.
2022-2023 Award Year
Similar to the 2021-2022 award year:
- The Selective Service and drug conviction questions (as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA) will remain on the FAFSA. However, failing to register with the Selective Service or having a drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid will no longer affect a student’s Title IV aid eligibility.
2023-2024 Award Year
For the 2023-2024 award year, the U. S. Department of Education plans to completely remove both the Selective Service and drug conviction questions from the FAFSA, as well as the option to register with the Selective Service via the FAFSA.
Repeal of the 150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit (SULA):
The Department of Education (ED) recently announced that the 150% Direct Subsidized Loan limit, or “SULA” is being repealed. What exactly does this mean for students? Here is a brief summary:
- For students who receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans first disbursed on July 1, 2021 or later, SULA restrictions do not apply, regardless of the award year associated with the loan.
- For students whose interest subsidy benefits were lost due to having a remaining eligibility period of zero or less, subsidy benefits will be restored for all subsidized loans with outstanding balances on July 1, 2021. The interest subsidies will be retroactively applied for all subsidized loans issued since the 2013-2014 award year.
- Direct loan entrance counseling will no longer be required to include information on the eligibility limitation of subsidized loans based on a borrower’s subsidized usage period.
- Direct loan exit counseling will no longer need to include SULA information, including:
- How a borrower’s maximum eligibility period, remaining eligibility period, and subsidized usage period are determined;
- The sum of a borrower’s subsidized usage periods at the time of exit counseling;
- The consequences of continued borrowing or enrollment;
- The impact of the borrower becoming responsible for accruing interest on total student debt;
- That the Secretary will inform the student borrower of whether he or she is responsible for accruing interest on his or her Direct Subsidized Loans; and
- That the borrower can access the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to determine whether he or she is responsible for accruing interest on any Direct Subsidized Loans.
The repeal of SULA has many benefits for students. As an example, students who had outstanding loan balances and had lost their interest subsidy will benefit from the retroactive restoration of their interest subsidy, and future students will no longer need to make decisions based on the potential loss of their interest subsidy.
State law, enacted by the Connecticut General Assembly, allows undocumented students to apply for institutional financial aid. These students must meet certain age, residency, and criminal history requirements along with an affidavit provided to Charter Oak about their intent to legalize their immigration status when they are eligible to do so. This new law does not apply to non-immigrant visa holders.
Tax Return Transcripts
Moving to better protect taxpayer data, the Internal Revenue Service has implemented a new format for tax return transcripts that will redact personally identifiable information (PII). Identifying information, including names, addresses, SSN’s, will now be partially redacted from the tax return transcript, but all money amounts will be visible.
Based on the limited information that will now be displayed on the tax return transcript, students are required to reference their name and student id on their tax return transcript before sending it to the Office of Financial Aid. This is the only way that our office will be able to match the tax transcript to the student’s financial aid record.
Students who do not want their financial aid delayed are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer their tax data onto their FAFSA application. Students who cannot use the IRS DRT, or choose not to use the IRS DRT, will be responsible for providing their full name and student id on all transcripts (student/spouse/parent) submitted.
IRS DATA RETRIEVAL TOOL (IRS DRT) - UPDATE
The IRS DRT is available for students to use when completing their FAFSA application. Additional security and privacy protections have been added to address identity theft concerns. Due to these concerns, tax information transferred from the IRS onto the FAFSA application won't be visible to applicants.
Federal Pell Grant Program - Duration of Eligibility
Once you have received a Pell Grant for 12 semesters (full-time), or the equivalent, you are no longer eligible for additional Pell Grants.
- You are eligible to receive a Pell Grant for up to 12 semesters or the equivalent. If you have exceeded the 12-semester maximum, you lose eligibility for additional Pell Grants. Equivalency is calculated by adding together the percentage of your Pell eligibility that you received each year to determine whether the total amount exceeds 600%.
- For example, if your maximum Pell Grant award amount for the school year was $5,550, but you only receive $2,775 because you were only enrolled for one semester, you would have used 50% of your maximum award for the year. If in the following school year, you were enrolled only three-quarter time, you would have used 75% of your maximum award for that year. Together, you would have received 125% out of the total 600% lifetime limit.