News: Financial Aid

U.S. Department of Education Announces 2021-22 FAFSA Updates

Monday, August 24, 2020  
Posted by: MorraLee Keller, Director of Technical Assistance
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The U.S. Department of Education recently released the document that summarizes the changes to the 2021-22 FAFSA. We can consider it good news that there are very few changes to the next iteration of the form.

The challenge this year will be helping our students and families get the form completed via virtual assistance.

Here are the changes coming to the FAFSA:

  • The income threshold for an automatic zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC) increased from $26,000 to $27,000 for the 2021-22 award year.
  • Schedule 1 Question: If the applicant is using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), it will now automatically answer the question about whether or not they filed a Schedule 1. The answer will be based on all current exceptions for filing a Schedule 1. The transferred data for the Schedule 1 fields will be handled the same (encrypted) as other data transferred using the DRT.
  • Schedule 1 Question: For those who do not use the DRT, the help topics connected to the “Student Filed Schedule 1?” and “Parent Filed Schedule 1?” questions have been updated to include all current exceptions for filing a Schedule 1. “Capital Gains” has been removed as an exception, and “Virtual Currency” has been added. These help text updates are in effect for the 2021-22 cycle, but “Capital Gains” is still considered an exception for the 2020-21 cycle. The removal of “Capital Gains” and addition of “Virtual Currency” also apply to questions 35 and 82 on the 2021-22 version of the paper FAFSA form.
  • New functionalities in the MyStudentAid mobile app will include:
    • Dashboard – Access various types of popular tasks and a personalized page to help you determine what actions to take.
    • Settings – Edit/manage your account, using your username and password (FSA ID).
    • Aid Summary – View your federal student loan and grant history.
    • Notification Center – View and manage notifications regarding your student aid; household member and enrolled in college calculation assistance.

The paper FAFSA PDF will become available in October, and the color rotation for the paper form is green for 2021-22. FAFSA worksheets in English and Spanish will also be available.

Perhaps the best news we have heard is that Federal Student Aid intends to have the FAFSA preview slides (for the web and mobile versions) available in early September. This means programs should have the most current materials to conduct FAFSA trainings.

Let the FAFSA fun begin!


Check out the #FAFSABrightSpots series highlighting NCAN members who, through quick and creative thinking, were able to shift and support students virtually with FAFSA completion in the early months of the pandemic:

Explore NCAN FAFSA completion resources: