New Guides Available from Federal Student Aid

Melissa Maichle .

Last month Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced the availability of two updated guides that are must-reads for financial aid professionals — the2024-25 Application and Verification Guide (AVG) and the 2023-24 FSA Assessments.

The AVG contains all the information you need to navigate the application process from filing the FAFSA® to making professional judgement (PJ) determinations and that’s a lot of stuff! If you don’t have time to read the entire guide before you begin processing, we recommend at least reviewing the following sections:

  • All the sections before Chapter 1. As is the case every year, these sections will breakdown anything that has changed since the previous award year and for 2024-2025 that’s a ton!
  • Chapter 2: Filling Out the FAFSA. This section provides insight into what your students are seeing as they file. It also defines the new lingo used in the form so you can be on the same page with your students and their families.
  • Chapter 3: Student Aid Index (SAI) and Pell Grant Eligibility. This is all new for the 2024-2025 award year, so definitely worth a read if you haven’t committed it all to memory yet. Also, there’s a link to the Draft 2024-2025 Student Aid Index (SAI) and Pell Grant Eligibility Guide where you will find the worksheets and tables related to the new need analysis calculations. Doing hand calculations is very helpful for testing the accuracy of your Financial Aid Management System (FAMS) and for staff training. As we’ve said before, you can’t effectively counsel students without having a full understanding of how eligibility is calculated.
  • Chapter 4: Verification, Updates and Corrections. Read the Required Policies and Procedures section and if you are confident in your institution’s compliance, the rest of the section is good for later reference. However, if you don’t have a Policy and Procedure manual or aren’t sure when yours was last updated, it will be worthwhile to review the information in this chapter in more detail. And read our November blog to understand how verification is changing for the new award year.
  • Chapter 5: Special Cases. The FAFSA Simplification Act included changes to and more guidance for PJ, so we recommend reviewing the following sections of this chapter to ensure you’re up to date…
  • Professional Judgement
  • The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and PJ
  • Refusing or Reducing a Loan
  • Unusual Circumstances

The 2023-2024 Assessments guide is your road map to creating and maintaining a complete and compliant policy and procedure manual for your office. And to make it is as easy as possible for financial aid administrators each topic links to a Word document that can serve as a customizable template for your manual. In addition, if your institution has been cited for non-compliance in a particular area, you can use the Word document provided in each section as a template for your corrective action plan.

Maintaining an up-to-date policy and procedure manual is a lot of work, but totally worth it in these days of change and more change. It is the only way you can ensure that everyone on your team understands how to process under new regulations or other external changes. Plus, your P&P can be the basis of all training you provide to your staff. For newbies, it clearly defines responsibilities and how to complete them. For your more experienced team members, it is a crucial link to ensure consistency and a refresher for those tasks that are required only at certain times of year.

Are you struggling to keep up with the new regulations, never mind updating your P&P manual? Contact the Higher Education Group at to speak with one of our regulatory experts. We’ll help you to be ready (and compliant!) for new award year!