After soft launch challenges, FAFSA 2024-25 form is now available 24/7, Dept of Ed says

The new and simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available 24/7 to everyone, officially ending the “soft launch” period that saw the form go offline for hours at a time, the Department of Education said.

The Department of Education met its legal obligation to release the new form by the end of 2023, about three months later than its usual Oct. 1 date, with a soft launch of the application. On Dec. 30 and Dec. 31, the application was only available for 30 minutes each day, frustrating students eager to complete the application as soon as possible to meet school deadlines, some as early as January 15. Each day, the form’s open hours got longer but the application remained inaccessible to many people.

Now, the Department of Education says the form is finally ready to be "continuously available except for routine maintenance, typical of any FAFSA cycle,” which should ease people’s fears of missing out on money for school.

“We recognize how important it is for students and families to get the information they need on to plan for the upcoming school year,” said Federal Student Aid Chief Richard Cordray in a statement.

How many people complete FAFSA?

About 18 million FAFSAs were submitted during the 2020-21 application cycle, according to Federal Student Aid data.


Even more applications are expected for the 2024-25 school year because FAFSA was simplified to encourage more people to apply for financial aid. The form was shortened to just 36 questions from 108, including detailed financial information, and it will be easier to import income data from IRS tax records.

“While the form is expected to take around an hour on average for applicants, some applicants could answer as few as 18 questions in less than 10 minutes,” the Department said.

Along with the pared-down form, the Department of Education changed its formulas so, among other things, more students would be awarded Pell Grants, which don't have to be repaid. It also will no longer include a sibling discount so families with more than one child in college may get less aid.

The Department estimates the new calculations will help an estimated 610,000 more students get Federal Pell Grants. Recipients will receive more aid, with nearly 1.5 million additional students receiving the maximum Pell Grant award, it said.

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How many people have completed 2024-24 FAFSA so far?

In the first 10 days of the soft launch, "over one million students and families and counting have successfully filled out the ‘Better FAFSA,’” said U.S. Secretary of Miguel Cardona in a press release.

That’s comparable to, or more, than the first 10 days of other years of FAFSA openings, including in October last year and earlier years like 2016 when the form launched on January 1, a Department spokesperson said. In 2016, the Department reached 1 million applications by January 12, she said.

Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: FAFSA 2024-25 application is (finally) open full time, Dep. of Ed says