FAFSA awards delayed: What you need to know

February 5, 2024

High school seniors won’t find out how much federal financial aid they will receive for the 2024-25 school year until at least mid-March, according to a recent news release from the U.S. Department of Education.

Today, we wanted to explain more about this news and what it means to you and the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund.

Why is FAFSA important?

FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid for college based on a student’s family income. The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, and receiving the Federal Pell Grant is one of the requirements for the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund.

When were FAFSA awards supposed to be provided to families?

Previously, the estimate was that FAFSA awards would be provided starting in late January.

Why are FAFSA awards being delayed?

The U.S. Department of Education needs to update the formula used to determine need-base federal student aid to account for inflation. This will result in an estimated 610,000 new students from low-income backgrounds to now be eligible for federal financial aid.

What does this mean for the financial aid packages that colleges give to students?

Colleges use FAFSA data to create individualized student aid packages for students. Those likely will not be available until early to mid-April, which is about four months later than usual.

What does this delay mean for the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund?

One of the criteria to receiving the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund is submitting the FAFSA and receiving a Federal Pell Grant. Applicants for the Scholarship are required to share their FAFSA Submission Summary as proof of eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant.

The Meeting Street Scholarship Team recognizes that all Scholarship fund applicants are in the same position and that no one will have FAFSA Submission Summaries for another few months. The team plans to adjust deadlines accordingly.

What should applicants for the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund do right now?

We encourage families to log into our system and begin to apply for the Scholarship. Applications can be finalized and submitted whenever you receive your FAFSA Submission Summary.

We also encourage families to begin the FAFSA application process as soon as they’re able.

How many students have been named finalists for the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund thus far?

None. We require the official FAFSA Submission Summary as part of our application, and that will not be available until March.

How can I get started with FAFSA?

Here are two things you should do to prepare to complete the FAFSA application.

  1. Create a FSA ID account: The FSA ID is a username and password that will be used to complete the FAFSA. It usually takes one to three days for a FSA ID to be confirmed by the Social Security Administration. Here’s a guide on how to create a FSA ID account.
    • All eligible students need FSA IDs. We do not recommend undocumented students create FSA IDs because they are not eligible for federal financial aid. Those students should contact the colleges to which they were accepted for more information.
    • Parents need FSA IDs, too. For most students, at least one biological or adoptive parent will need to complete a portion of the FAFSA. Undocumented parents will need to create FSA IDs but the process isn’t available yet.
  2. Be ready with six pieces of information. The FSA ID requires a full legal name, date of birth, Social Security Number, personal email address, cell phone number and permanent address. Students and parents without Social Security Numbers will complete a knowledge-based verification process, which will be based largely on credit and financial history. Here’s a guide on how to complete the FAFSA.

What are the requirements for the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund?

There are five requirements to be eligible for the Scholarship. Any students who meet these criteria will receive an award. The criteria are:

  • Live in one of 12 eligible counties
  • Graduate from a public high school in an eligible county
  • Earn a LIFE or Palmetto Fellows Scholarship
  • Fill out the FAFSA and qualify for a Federal Pell Grant
  • Attend one of 17 in-state colleges with graduation rates higher than 50 percent.