Early Implementation of FAFSA Simplification Act
The FAFSA Simplification Act (enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021) makes many important changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). To make Title IV aid accessible to as many students as soon as possible, the Department of Education (ED) is implementing changes in three phases across the 2021-22, 2022-23, and 2023-24 award years.
The following pertains to the 2023-24 award year.
- Confined or incarcerated students
- As the result of early implementation of specific aspects of the FAFSA Simplification Act, confined or incarcerated students may be eligible for Pell Grant funds if they are enrolled in a prison education program as defined under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).
- Comment codes 405 and 406 have been added to indicate an applicant was determined to be incarcerated.
- For additional information, refer to Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN-22-09.
- Selective Service registration
- Selective Service comment codes (026, 028, 030, 031, 033, and 057) have been deleted.
- As the result of early implementation of specific aspects of the FAFSA Simplification Act during the 2022-23 academic year, failing to register with the Selective Service does not affect a student’s Title IV aid eligibility (refer to DCL GEN-21-04, published on June 11, 2021, for further details).
- Drug-related and conviction information with the Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Drug Convictions Affecting Eligibility comment codes (052, 053, 054, 056, and 058) have been deleted.
- As the result of early implementation of specific aspects of the FAFSA Simplification Act during the 2022-23 academic year, having a drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid does not affect a student’s Title IV aid eligibility (refer to DCL GEN-21-04, published on June 11, 2021, for further details).
In addition, DCL GEN-22-15 (published on November 4, 2022) supplements Federal Register notice 87 FR 66683 (also published on November 4, 2022), which discusses new policies from the FAFSA Simplification Act that become effective for the 2023-24 award year. Topics covered in DCL GEN-22-15 include:
- revisions to cost of attendance (COA) components and consumer information.
- distinctions between the professional judgment elements of “special circumstances” (for financial situations) and “unusual circumstances” (for adjustments to a student’s dependency status).
- additional guidance regarding the timing of determinations of independence for certain unaccompanied homeless youth or at-risk homeless youth, foster care youth, orphans, wards of the court, and students with unusual circumstances.
- updates to the types of adequate documentation that a school may request for special circumstances, unusual circumstances, unaccompanied homeless youth, and foster care youth.
- codification of previous guidance related to exercising professional judgment during a disaster, emergency, or economic downturn.
- restoration of Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU).
- Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students (as explained above).
- FAFSA form changes.
A “Questions and Answers” section is also included in DCL GEN-22-15.