Ask the Expert: What You Need to Know about the FAFSA

Posted Oct 03, 2022

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2023-2024 year opened on Oct. 1. There are many reasons to fill out the FAFSA every year.

The FAFSA may allow you to qualify for more financial aid. At Otterbein, all new first year students who apply to Otterbein and submit the FAFSA to Otterbein by Jan. 15 receive the FAFSA Completion Award, a $1,000 award that is renewable for four years as long as students continue to submit the FAFSA by Jan. 15 each year.

Additionally, the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program funds part-time employment for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses while gaining valuable experiences on campus. Students must complete the FAFSA to find out if they qualify for those jobs on campus funded by the FWS program.

There are a few changes to this year’s FAFSA. This year’s form no longer includes questions about gender, selective service, or drug convictions, but includes a new demographics survey at the end. Additionally, the automatic zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC) income threshold increased from $27,000 to $29,000.

We asked Aissata Barry, assistant director of financial aid data and systems and a 2022 graduate of Otterbein’s MBA Program, for tips families should know when filling out the FAFSA. Here’s what she told us:

  1. File your FAFSA early to get your awards faster. The FAFSA must be filed for every academic year. It is available starting on October 1st of each year.  
  1. The FAFSA relies on income information from 2 years ago. For example, for the 2023-2024, you will use your 2021 tax information, which means you do not have to wait for your new taxes to file a FAFSA.
  1. Use the Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA to transfer tax information. It makes filing the FAFSA easier, and much FASTER. All you will have to do is click on a few fields. It’s magical!
  1. If your family’s income on the FAFSA decreased, contact the financial aid office, and ask about the Special Circumstance Appeal Process. It may result in more Financial Aid.
  1. Ask for help! The Financial Aid Office can be reached at (614)823-1502 or e-mail: