We recognize that the delays in this year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) have created uncertainty for students and their families. As your partner in the financial aid process, HWS is committed to providing you with available resources.

What we know

  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is live. Students should complete their FAFSA as soon as they are able.
  • Release of FAFSA information to colleges by the Department of Education has been delayed for some students and families. Our financial aid team will begin assembling financial aid award packages for admitted students as soon as information becomes available. Returning students will receive aid packages in early summer.

What this means for prospective students

To provide additional time for your family to make an informed decision regarding admissions and aid applications, HWS will continue to accept Regular Decision applications beyond our posted deadline.

  • Admissions decisions for Regular Decision applicants will be sent on schedule, regardless of FAFSA status.
  • All applicants will be considered for merit scholarships, and recipients will be notified of the scholarship amount upon acceptance.
  • Admitted students will receive their full financial aid package (including both federal awards and previously awarded scholarship) shortly after FAFSA information is provided to HWS.

Jan. 25 FAFSA Q&A

2024-25 FAFSA FAQS

Q: How do I ensure that my FAFSA is sent to all the schools I've selected? 
A: When you input the school code while selecting the schools in your FAFSA application, the Department of Education will automatically send it to those schools. You will receive a confirmation email from the Department of Education verifying the distribution. 

Q: Is the IRS link working with the 2024-25 version of the FAFSA? 
A: Yes, the IRS link is functional in the 2024-25 version. While some individuals may have concerns, it generally works. Previously known as IRS data retrieval, it's now called data exchange. This process is more robust, and entering information manually is no longer an option in most cases.  

Q: Can I enter my information manually in the FAFSA application? 
A: The option to enter information manually is limited. The new system, called data exchange, mandates the use of the automated process. Manual entry is only considered in exceptional cases where filing status or unique circumstances prevent the use of the automated process. The FAFSA interface will guide you if this applies to your situation. 

Q: What changes have occurred with the IRS data retrieval process? 
A: The IRS data retrieval process, now called data exchange, is more robust and mandatory in most cases. Unlike the previous option of IRS data retrieval, the new process does not allow manual entry except in specific circumstances. The interface will guide you through the steps, and it is essential to follow the instructions provided during the FAFSA application. 

Q: I entered an incorrect Social Security number on the FAFSA and am getting an error. How can I resolve this issue? 
A: If you're encountering difficulty updating your Social Security number on the FAFSA due to an error, persistence is key. The Department of Education is currently overwhelmed, and assistance may be limited.  Patience and persistence are advised at this stage. 

Q: What if the Department of Education is not responding to my FAFSA correction request?
A: Understandably, the Department of Education is currently facing challenges, and response times may be delayed. High school counselors and financial aid administrators are also experiencing similar issues. We recommend patience and persistence, as this is a common frustration. Once we have the necessary data, we can better assist in solving any problems related to the FAFSA. 

Q: Can I use the FAFSA sign-in from my older child's entries for my younger child?
A: Yes, if you have previously created a FAFSA account for an older child, you can use the same account as a parent for a younger child. Creating your own account without an invitation is not a problem, and it allows for a smoother process. 

Q: My student didn't receive an email, but the FAFSA portal says it's in review. Should I be concerned? 
A: If the FAFSA portal indicates that the application is in review, and you see the relevant information, such as a DRN number and SAI amount, you should not worry. If there are any additional requirements or issues, financial aid administrators will reach out to you. Ensure that the contributing parent signs off when necessary. 

Q: My student received an email confirming FAFSA application receipt. Are they all set, or is there more to be done? 
A: If you receive an email that contains a DRN number and a SAI value, you should be fine.  Financial aid administrators will communicate with you if more information is needed or if any issues arise during the processing of the application. 

Q: My FAFSA has been in a pending status since the 12th. Is this normal? 
A: The pending status might be due to various reasons. It's advisable to log in and check if there are any unanswered questions or incomplete sections. Sometimes, pending status can be resolved by ensuring all required information is filled out. If you've added schools and signed off, and the status persists, it's recommended to follow up through the chat function at www.studentaid.gov. 

Q: Can I print out the information submitted through the FAFSA platform? 
A: The FAFSA platform, operating as a data exchange, may not offer an option to print out the submitted data. However, once the data is received by the colleges, they can verify the information and discuss it with you if needed. Consider reaching out to the financial aid office for assistance in reviewing the details. 

Q: Are there tricky questions on the FAFSA, and how can they be addressed? 
A: While the FAFSA questions are generally straightforward, some might need clarification. Questions about parent definitions, inclusion/exclusion of assets, and understanding the treatment of certain accounts can be challenging. If you have specific concerns, financial aid administrators can provide assistance. It is essential to read the directions carefully and seek help if needed. 

Q: What grants are available from the FAFSA, besides Pell and TAP? 
A: TAP is a NY state program, not a federal program. You can start your application for TAP at the end of the FAFSA, but eligibility for TAP is not determined by the FAFSA data. In addition to Pell, the FAFSA considers the SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) for exceptionally needy students. Financial aid offices may also offer need-based grants on top of merit aid based on the FAFSA information. 

Q: My FAFSA application status has been in review since early January. Is this normal? 
A: As of now, there is no indication from the Department of Education that a review status is problematic. It seems to be a common theme, and if there are any issues, the authorities will communicate. Keep an eye on your communications and, if necessary, follow up with the relevant entities. 

Q: Is early submission of the FAFSA advantageous in receiving financial aid? 
A: Early submission may be advantageous for planning and comparing aid packages from different schools. While some funds like work-study or SEOG might have limited availability, HWS strives for fairness in distribution to eligible students. At HWS, submitting the FAFSA later won't negatively impact your eligibility for financial aid. 

Q: Where can I find information about SAI scores and their ranges?
A: If you want a breakdown of SAI scores, you can log into your FAFSA account to view the calculated Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI is determined based on parents' income and assets, students' income and assets, and family size. 

Q: What is the lowest and highest possible SAI score?
A: The lowest SAI score is -1500. There isn't a specified maximum score, but it is essential to ensure accuracy in entering information. 

Q: I wasn't allowed to sign off on the form, and it's locked as being under review. Will it be kicked back once reviewed, or will it be released to the school?
A: If your FAFSA is locked under review, it may be due to processing issues. Contact financial aid officers once schools start releasing aid, and they can assist in resolving any issues. 

Q: What date should be used for the current market value of assets and investments on the FAFSA?
A: Use the date you file the FAFSA as the reference date for the current market value of assets and investments. 

Q: If I receive an estimated SAI index number, does that mean the form was completed correctly?
A: Generally, yes. An estimated SAI index suggests that the form was completed correctly, unless there were errors in entering family size or other information. 

Q: What if the email states it cannot calculate the SAI for the student?
A: If you receive an email stating that the SAI cannot be calculated, log into your FAFSA account to investigate and make sure all required information is completed. If issues persist, contact the financial aid office. 

Q: Does HWS have a commitment to a maximum amount of student loans a student would need to take to meet the cost of attendance?
A: HWS typically packages federal student loans, and if additional loans are needed, they would be either parent or private loans. There isn't a set maximum, but it's a decision to be made by the family. 

Q: Is there an SAI number where you're over the threshold for financial aid?
A: There isn't a specific SAI number that disqualifies you from financial aid. Even if your SAI is over the threshold for the Pell grant, you may still qualify for need-based aid from the school. 

Q: If I completed the CSS profile, can that expedite the financial aid process at HWS?
A: HWS primarily relies on the FAFSA for domestic students. While the CSS profile provides additional financial information, it may not expedite the process, and the FAFSA remains essential for federal aid determination.