Five Ways Local Leaders Can Support Their Residents with a Better FAFSA


  • Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman
  • Patrick Hain
April 16, 2024 - (3 min read)

The U.S. Department of Education recently made transformational changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, an application that students and families need to complete to apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study funds, and loans. These changes implement provisions of the FUTURE Act and the FAFSA Simplification Act.

The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, known as the Better FAFSA, will provide a more streamlined application process, expanded eligibility for federal student aid, and a new user experience for the FAFSA form. Full implementation of these changes will occur for the 2024–25 award year, so now is the time to encourage all residents who will continue their education beyond high school to complete their applications. 

Completing and submitting the Better FAFSA form is free, takes many students under 30 minutes, and gives students access to the largest source of federal financial aid to help pay for higher education.

The Better FAFSA ensures that 665,000 more students will receive Federal Pell Grants to pay for college and that more than 1.7 million additional students will receive the maximum Pell Grant of $7,395.

As a local elected official, here are five ways that you can support this week’s FAFSA Week of Action to raise awareness about the Better FAFSA and its benefit to your residents:

1. Sponsor a citywide FAFSA Fast Break challenge among your community’s schools to see who can get the most high school seniors to submit the Better FAFSA. Post these rankings on social media and celebrate citywide efforts. If you have one high school in your town, consider a competition with neighboring communities.

2. Share Better FAFSA resources, including “How To” Videos, FAFSA Pro-Tips, and FAFSA Toolkit for Students & Families via newsletters, across social media, and in waiting areas of public places or city-owned properties.

3. Promote FAFSA on social media, including uplifting local success stories of residents who have leveraged federal student aid to support their educational journey.

4. Invite schools and local education organizations to come together to host a large FAFSA Fast Break night.

5. Incorporate information on submitting the Better FAFSA during events with students and parents/families and on your website.

As you work with your local school districts and residents, make sure to leverage FAFSA guidance from the U.S. Department of Education in your efforts. Remind your residents completing the form early is best, as states, schools, and the federal government have their own FAFSA deadlines. Be sure to check those deadlines and remind residents to submit their FAFSA forms on time.

About the Authors

Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman

About the Authors

Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman is the Legislative Director of Human Development at the National League of Cities.

Patrick Hain

Patrick Hain is a Program Director, Economic Opportunity and Financial Empowerment, and Municipal Practice team at the National League of Cities.