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New FAFSA projected to expand SC Pell Grant awards by 9,100 in 2024-25, form opens Dec. 31

Tue, 11/28/2023

The U.S. Department of Education projects changes in the simplified and redesigned 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form will help award federal Pell Grants to more than 9,100 new students in South Carolina from low-income backgrounds.

More than 71,000 of South Carolina’s 230,000 college students receive the Pell Grant each year.

U.S. Department of Education projections also indicate the new FAFSA will also help more than 19,000 students in the state receive the maximum Pell Grant amount ($7,395 for the 2023-24 award year). The average South Carolina Pell award amount in 2020-2021 was $4,828, according to the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

The changes are the most significant redesign of the application process and the formulas used to determine aid eligibility since the Common Financial Aid Form (the FAFSA form’s predecessor) was introduced in the Reagan era. In addition to unlocking federal aid such as Pell Grants, the FAFSA is also used to determine student eligibility for various state-funded financial aid programs.

“The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education looks forward to collaborating with students, families and schools across the state to ensure a smooth transition to the new form,” said Dr. Gerrick Hampton, CHE Associate Director of Student Affairs. “As the better FAFSA form becomes a reality, we anticipate a positive impact in our state as higher education becomes accessible to more students from low-income families who gain Pell Grant eligibility for the first time.”

The opening of the FAFSA form was delayed from the traditional October 1 opening date as changes have been finalized for the 2024-25 award year. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the FAFSA form will open by Dec. 31, 2023.

Each year the CHE partners with the South Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SCASFAA) to facilitate the College Goal SC FAFSA completion campaign from January-March for high schoolers across the state. To date, 46 high schools have registered to participate in College Goal SC events for the 2024 season. High schools can register to host a College Goal SC event through the SCCANGO website.

The CHE also encourages students and their families who are new to the FAFSA to set up their Federal Student Aid Identification (FSAID) credentials in the coming weeks to remove one step from the process once the FAFSA opens. The CHE will continue to post information to the agency website and social media accounts to help students, families and counselors complete the better FAFSA.

Additional information on FAFSA changes is available from the U.S. Department of Education.

(South Carolina Commission on Higher Education Press Release)