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### Essential Information for Texans on the Latest FAFSA Updates for College Financial Aid

With the recent introduction of the updated federal application for college financial aid, financial aid advisors are recommending that Texas students complete the form promptly to increase their chances of receiving more financial assistance. However, the exact amount of aid they qualify for will only be revealed after a few months.

The revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) represents the most significant overhaul of the form in many years. Enacted by Congress in 2020, these modifications aim to simplify the application process, making higher education more accessible to a broader range of families. The new version features fewer inquiries and a revised methodology for allocating need-based aid.

In Texas, families have faced challenges in completing the application. Due to delays, the form was not available until December 30, with initial access limited during a tumultuous “soft launch.” As of January 8, the form has been accessible 247.

FAFSA serves as a crucial avenue for securing financial support for college education, unlocking opportunities for federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships. It is essential for the Texas high school class of 2022 to prioritize completing the FAFSA.

Here are the key changes with the updated FAFSA and their implications for Texas students and families:

Submit the FAFSA Early

Given the delayed release of the new form, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has extended its financial aid application deadline to March 15. Despite this, students are encouraged to submit their applications early to address any issues promptly and enhance their chances of receiving substantial financial aid packages.

Many institutions award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, early submission increases the likelihood of securing generous aid packages from schools.

Shorter FAFSA Form

The revised FAFSA aims to simplify the application process for families. The number of questions has been reduced from 108 to approximately 36, with the option to skip up to 26 questions. The Education Department estimates that most applicants can complete the form in under an hour.

These adjustments were prompted by concerns from lawmakers that the previous version was overly complex, acting as a barrier to higher education.

Potential Changes in Financial Aid Amounts

Updates to the funding formula, determining students’ eligibility for federal financial aid, may lead to varied outcomes. While some individuals may qualify for expanded benefits, others could receive reduced aid under the new formula.

In Texas, around 51,000 new students may now be eligible for the Pell Grant, with approximately 133,000 Pell recipients potentially receiving the maximum award of $7,395 annually. Additionally, aid calculations for students with divorced or separated parents will now consider the parent providing the most financial support.

Mandatory FAFSA Completion in Texas

High school seniors in Texas must complete the FAFSA, the Texas Application for State Financial Aid, or submit an opt-out form to graduate. This requirement aims to increase financial aid accessibility and college enrollment rates among students.

As the FAFSA completion deadline approaches, high school counselors in Texas are intensifying efforts to ensure all students fulfill this obligation. Despite the challenges posed by delays, counselors are committed to guiding students through the process efficiently.

Assistance for Parents without Social Security Numbers

A temporary issue in the online FAFSA form is preventing parents without Social Security numbers from entering their financial details. While the glitch is expected to be resolved in February, affected families can consider completing the paper form in the interim.

For additional support with the FAFSA, families can utilize the national FAFSA hotline or seek assistance from local high schools, college access centers, and financial aid offices. One-on-one guidance is typically available for graduating seniors and their families.

For further information and resources on FAFSA, individuals can access workshops organized by educational institutions and utilize online support services.

This article was originally published on [source].