That may be “small consolation” to families affected by the elimination of the sibling break, Mr. Draeger acknowledged. “I don’t want to be callous,” he said, yet the result of the policy change is a formula that “treats families in similar circumstances more equitably.”
Eliminating the sibling bump also makes it possible to create a simple chart that families can check to see if they qualify for Pell grants, according to a statement from the association. Factoring in the number of students in college would have made it “unworkable,” it said.
The Education Department had no immediate comment.
Here are some questions and answers about the new FAFSA:
When do the changes to the FAFSA take effect?
The changes affect the form for the 2023-24 academic year, which means students and families will see the changes reflected in the FAFSA available on Oct. 1, 2022.
What if having multiple children in college strains my budget?
The FAFSA will still ask how many children in the family are in college, even though the information won’t be factored into the aid formula, according to an online summary provided by the office of Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and a co-sponsor of the simplification bill.
Families can use the information to appeal to college financial aid officers for extra aid, although it’s unclear how that will occur, Mr. Kantrowitz said.
What about colleges that use a different form, the CSS Profile, to dole out financial aid?
In addition to the FAFSA, many private, higher-cost colleges require students to submit the CSS Profile, short for the College Scholarship Service Profile, which is administered by the College Board. It is a more detailed form used to allocate financial aid from colleges. The CSS Profile may offer more aid to families with multiple children in college, and it’s unclear if it will change its approach to stay in step with the FAFSA.
Jaslee Carayol, a spokeswoman for College Board, said it was “closely monitoring” the legislation’s impact on the financial aid application process and awaiting guidance from the Education Department.
“The CSS Profile will continue to allow families to share their entire financial story so that schools can equitably award their institutional aid using sound economic principles,” she said.
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