FREE Application for federal student aid (FAFSA)
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form you need to complete to receive any financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college. Students must complete the FAFSA each year to be considered for grants, work-study funds, federal student loans, and certain state-based aid. The FAFSA also helps West Chester University's Financial Aid Office determine how much additional financial aid students may receive.
Apply for federal and state financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). West Chester University’s School Code is: 003328.
The 2023-2024 FAFSA is available now for fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024. WCU FAFSA priority deadline is March 1, 2024, however, it is recommended to file your FAFSA as early as possible.
Due to the U.S. Department of Education’s delay in releasing 2024-25 FAFSA information, West Chester University has extended our FAFSA Filing Priority Deadline to May 1.
The Financial Aid Office will be working diligently to prepare financial aid offers as soon as the FAFSA information becomes available.
We know how difficult the wait can be, so in the meantime we encourage you to:
- File your FAFSA if you haven’t done so already. Both student and parent contributors should establish their account information at http://studentaid.gov before starting the FAFSA.
- Attend the virtual WCU FAFSA Info Session on Wednesday, February 28. Register for the FAFSA Info Session
- Make an appointment to discuss financial aid options and FAFSA filing assistance.
- Watch our webinar about the financial aid process and changes to the FAFSA form.
- Review WCU costs on our WCU Cost Calculator.
- Get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the FAFSA delays.
The 2024–2025 FAFSA form will offer a new, streamlined user experience for students and their families. The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed by Congress in 2020 and represents a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid. There are big changes coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-25 aid year including:
- The FAFSA Application Opens Later
The 2024-2025 FAFSA will be available by December 31, 2023. Historically, the FAFSA has been available beginning October 1 each year. However, because of significant changes to the application and the rebuild of the FAFSA processing system, the 2024-25 FAFSA will be available sometime in December 2023.
- The FAFSA will be shorter and more user-friendly
Applicants will be able to skip as many as 26 FAFSA questions, depending on their individual circumstances. Some applicants will need to complete as few as 18 questions, taking less than 10 minutes. The 2024-25 application will be expanded to include the 11 most common languages spoken in the U.S.
- Everyone needs an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA Application
For the 2024-25 academic year, anyone required to fill out part of a student’s FAFSA—including a spouse, parent or step-parent—must create their own FSA ID and password. The FSA ID provides a digital signature on your application for security reasons.
- Consent is required for tax data transfers – IRS Direct Data Exchange
Previously, users had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning with 2024-25, 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 and families will have to enter their tax data manually, but for most, that data will be automatically transferred into the application. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions to be answered.
- The Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.
- All “contributors” must provide financial information
A contributor—a new term being introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA—refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student's form (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.
- Students may automatically qualify for the maximum Pell Grant
Pell Grant eligibility is tied to how household income and family size compares to poverty guidelines. Pell Grants are a type of aid that doesn’t have to be repaid; grants are awarded to students with an “exceptional financial need”.
Questions? The WCU Financial Aid Office is here to help:
FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions
No, we can accept your FAFSA and hold it in a suspense file which will help us expedite the processing of aid once accepted.
Yes. All students should be filing the FAFSA each year to be reviewed for aid for the next year.
Pennsylvania residents please make sure you complete a state grant form, you can verify this by setting up an account at https://pheaa.org. Please review your FAFSA Submission summary flags to address any errors on your FAFSA which may include;
- Being selected for verification
- Missing a signature (FSA ID can be used to sign electronically for both parent and student).
- Being flagged by Social Security Administration for Citizenship
Yes, Pennsylvania's FAFSA deadline is May 1st and Delaware's state grant deadline is April 1st. Unfortunately, New Jersey does not transfer state funds to Pennsylvania for a full list of states that offer out of state grants please see the "Grants" page on our website.
Technically, no you do not have to include rollover amounts that are coded with a G on a 1099R. However, if you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool this will automatically populate. Please contact our office at email@example.com for instructions if you believe this is improperly reported.
No, you do not have to list your social security benefits on the FAFSA.
Cash, net worth of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, second property (not the home your living in). The value of 529 accounts should be reported under parents (if the parent is the owner of the account), but if it is owned by another relative it is not an asset, will be reported as income by the student on a future FAFSA after the contribution received.
Do NOT include:
- Value of your retirement
- Life Insurance
- Small business unless you have 100 or more employees
- Value of your car
No. If you do not intend to apply for financial aid, you do not have to file the FAFSA. The Bursar's Office accepts payments in full and through payment plans. However, to be considered for any need-based scholarships and grants, federal loans, or federal student employment funds (work study) a FAFSA should be filed each year. The 2024-25 FAFSA (for fall 2024 and spring 2025) is available online at https://studentaid.gov.
FAFSA information will not be available to colleges and universities until March this year.
To be considered for maximum financial aid, our Priority Deadline is May 1. WCU awards financial aid on a rolling basis and reviews FAFSA forms as they are received.
I already filed my FAFSA and received a submission summary with a Student Aid Index (SAI). Can WCU use that information to estimate my financial aid?
Although our office cannot send out a financial aid offer with the use of student summary information, our financial aid counseling team can discuss an estimated award based on the information families have received from the FAFSA. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at (610) 436-2627 to schedule an appointment.
We anticipate that initial financial aid offers will go out in April for incoming first year students.
Similar to previous years, we expect to send financial aid offers to returning students after spring grades are finalized (late May- early June).
Due to FAFSA delays, the application for the PA State Grant will not be open until FAFSA information is processed. For more information, please see PHEAA’s website at: https://www.pheaa.org/StudentAid/
Yes. WCU Scholarship Applications will be available in March at https://wcupa.edu/scholarships However, many scholarships at WCU require that a FAFSA be on file. To be considered for all scholarships, we still recommend you file a FAFSA each year.
Does WCU require the CSS profile? If I already completed a CSS profile, can WCU use it in place of the FAFSA?
WCU does not use the CSS profile and cannot accept it in place of the FAFSA.
I filed my FAFSA but did NOT receive a submission summary. Does this mean I am not receiving any financial aid for next year?
We are aware of some issues with the 2024-25 FAFSA that have resulted in forms being submitted as incomplete or being rejected. If your FAFSA falls into this group, you can make corrections to your FAFSA when the functionality goes live in March.
The FAFSA delays are partially due to a re-calculation to account for inflation. The U.S. Department of Education has estimated these updates to the Student Aid Index (SAI) will result in an increase of $1.8 billion of federal Pell grant eligibility for the nation. This should lead to increased eligibility for students using the new formula for Pell grant consideration.