Applying for Aid

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Information

Updated September 25, 2023

General Information

Every year students and families must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the appropriate aid year in order to be considered for federal (and some state) financial aid, including student loans.

2023-2024 - The 2023-2024 FAFSA is currently available. This is used for students attending fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024.

2024-2025 - Big changes are coming to the FAFSA in the 2024-2025 aid year. The FAFSA will not be available until sometime in December 2023. The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2020 and represents a significant overhaul of the process and systems. More information can be found below.

Priority Deadline - Most need-based aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner you file your FAFSA after it opens, the better. However, we anticipate the 24/25 FAFSA to have some technical glitches when it first opens so we recommend waiting until January to file the FAFSA. All students who file the FAFSA in January will be considered for awarding need-based aid. After January, the sooner you file the FAFSA the better as it can make a difference to any need-based awards.

What You Can Do Now to Prepare for 24/25 FAFSA

  • FSA ID - Student
    • If you already completed the 23/24 FAFSA you already have a FSA ID. Make sure you know the ID and password and nothing further needed.
  • FSA ID - Contributor
    • Make sure anyone who will be listed on FAFSA (parent, parent’s spouse, your spouse if married) has a FSA ID and password. If they don't, have them apply now so they will be ready.

What's Changing With the FAFSA

    • Normally the FAFSA becomes available October 1st each year, but the 24/25 FAFSA will be available sometime in December 2023. The 25/26 FAFSA will be open on October 1, 2025.
    • The FAFSA will reduce the maximum number of questions from 108 to 36. And because the FAFSA on the Web is dynamic, some students won’t even be presented with all questions. The streamlined format will simplify the application process and make it less daunting for students and their families.
    • Beginning with 24/25 FAFSA, all persons on the FAFSA must provide consent for the Department of Education to receive tax information or confirmation of non-filing status directly from the IRS. In a very small number of cases, students/families will have to enter their tax data manually. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions to be answered. Failure to provide consent will result in inability to complete FAFSA.
    • A contributor will be a new term for the 24/25 FAFSA. This refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s FAFSA (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student’s or parent’s answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.
      Contributors will receive an email informing them that they’ve been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID to provide the required information on the student’s FAFSA.
      Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student’s education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA or the application will be incomplete and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.
    • A notable terminology update within the 24/25 FASFA and beyond is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This new term more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.
    • For dependent students, financial information was previously needed from the parent(s) the student had lived with the most in the last 12 months. With the 24/25 FAFSA, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student in the last 12 months.
    • When required, families must now report the value of their small business or family farm. If the family farm includes the principal place of residence, applicants should determine the total net value of all farm assets and subtract the net value of their principal residence to determine the final value of their farm assets.
    • Beginning with the 24/25 FAFSA, the application will still ask how many household members are in college, but your answer will not be calculated into the SAI due to the new regulations.
    • Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will see their students receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Minimum Pell Grants will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.
    • Currently the FAFSA is only available in English and Spanish. The 24/25 FAFSA will be expended to include the 11 most common languages spoken.
    • These questions will have NO effect on financial aid eligibility and are asked for statistical purposes only. The answers to these questions will not be shared with any college.

What Isn't Changing With the FAFSA

  • The types of financial aid available are not changing.
  • The FAFSA will still be required to be completed every year.

Tips When Filing the FAFSA

    • 2023-2024 FAFSA for students attending fall 2023, spring 2024 or summer 2024
    • 2024-2025 FAFSA for students attending fall 2024, spring 2025, or summer 2025
    • 2023-2024 FAFSA uses the 2021 federal tax documents.
    • 2024-2025 FAFSA will use the 2022 federal tax documents.
    • Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243 or online for assistance with filing the FAFSA (technical issues with FAFSA or FAFSA website, making changes to your FAFSA, Signing your FAFSA, FSA ID and password).
    • Both student and parent/contributor need FSA ID.
    • Make sure to list your name on your FAFSA exactly as it appears on your Social Security Card. Do not use nicknames, abbreviations, etc.
    • The student must be a U.S. Citizen or documented, eligible non-citizen. Your parent does not need to be a citizen. You must be admitted to Winthrop University as a regular degree-seeking undergraduate student, a Winthrop Think College Student, or a graduate student seeking a degree or a certificate in Dietetic Internship or Counseling.
    • Make sure you add Winthrop as a college to receive your FAFSA. If needed, our school code is 003456.

What Happens Next

  • Submitting FAFSA to Winthrop University
    • The Office of Financial Aid will receive an electronic copy of your FAFSA approximately 2 weeks after you submit it.
  • Additional Information
    • Once we receive the FAFSA, you may be requested to provide additional documentation. The Department of Education selects approximately 30 percent of all applicants for a verification process. This means the Office of Financial Aid must collect certain documents to confirm the accuracy of the information you provided on your FAFSA. You will receive an e-mail from us if you need to provide any further information. Requests for information for 24/25 FAFSA will be sent by late February 2024 for those who file their FAFSA by February, and then on an ongoing basis as FAFSAs are received.
  • Financial Aid Offers
    • Once the FAFSA is complete and you are fully admitted to Winthrop, you will receive an e-mail notification directing you to Wingspan to view your financial aid award package (late March for incoming freshmen and transfer students and late June for returning students and graduate students). Spring 2024 admits will start seeing aid offers in Wingspan by early November. Summer 2024 admits will start seeing aid offers in Wingspan by late April (the Summer Aid Application is required before an aid offer can be made).


Due to the significant amount of changes that are occurring in real time to the 24/25 FAFSA, portions of our website may not yet be 100% accurate for the 24/25 academic year. We’ll continue to update this page as we receive updated information from the Department of Education. We appreciate your patience as we work to implement all the changes brought by the FAFSA Simplification Act.