Changes to the FAFSA form and the formula for determining a family’s need for aid are changing, effective for the 2024-2025 school year. While all the changes are beyond the scope of this post, here we highlight two from a financial planning perspective.

Parent Income:

Contributions (pre-tax salary deferrals) to employer retirement accounts are no longer added back to parent income. This could be an additional incentive for parents with employer plans to max out contributions in years that the FAFSA looks at income. The FAFSA looks at the year two years prior to the beginning of the school year. For example, the 2024-2025 school year looks at 2022 income. Note that this change only applies to contributions that come straight from a salary reduction. Contributions to IRAs that are deductible on the tax return are still added back to parent income.

Grandparent Contributions:
Up until now, while grandparent (or other non-parent) owned 529 accounts did not count towards a parent or student’s assets, withdrawals from said account counted as income to the student which had to be reported on the FAFSA. This could reduce the student’s aid eligibility. With the changes, withdrawals from a third-party owned 529 account will no longer count as student income. Grandparents can now maintain a 529 account for their grandchildren and distribute funds without impacting aid eligibility.

Because of these changes, the 2024-2025 form will not be available until December this year. You can stay up to date on announcements at https://studentaid.gov/, or through college financial aid office websites.


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