Institutions to help students navigate new FAFSA application

Woman working on laptop. (Credit_Josefa Diaz / Unsplash)
Woman working on laptop. (Credit: Josefa Diaz / Unsplash)



Applications for federal student financial aid are open from now through June.

FAFSA recently launched its form 2024-25, which expands the eligibility criteria for federal student aid. 

According to the Federal Student Aid website, more than 600,000 low-income students will be eligible for Federal Pell Grants due to updates to student aid calculations.

Students and families can get some help understanding the process at several different places in Central Washington. Financial aid professionals will help students complete the FAFSA form. They also will help those who want to apply for state financial aid in Washington, better known as WASFA.

Free workshops in Spanish and English are scheduled in the Yakima Valley and the Tri-Cities.

“Our purpose focuses on supporting students and parents as they work through the financial aid process, regardless of what institution they plan on attending,” said Oscar Verduzco, the financial aid director at Yakima Valley College.

Changes in this year form

FAFSA has reported several changes in its new form that applicants should be aware of.

Contributor is a new term that applicants will find. It is defined as anyone “who’s asked to provide their information, consent and approval to have their federal tax information transferred automatically from the IRS into the FAFSA form, and signature on your FAFSA form,” according to the website.

There are family members who are not necessarily considered contributors, unless they have legally adopted the applicant.

Verduzco said this year’s form has the most significant in the last four years.

“The applicants now have to consent to a direct transfer of information from the IRS to their financial aid application,” explained Verduzco.

Contributors must establish their own Federal Student Aid account and they complete it separately from the students’ portion of the application, said Verduzco.

There is also a difference in the signing process, he explained.

“Contributors or parents without social security numbers, they no longer have the option of printing a signature page. They now have to verify their identity with the Department of Education via the use of one of the federal credit bureaus in order to sign and submit their contributor portion,” said Verduzco.

FAFSA is working to solve the issues by including data from contributors who do not have a social security number, FAFSA included specific instructions on its website.

In Yakima and Grandview, Yakima Valley College is offering workshops both virtually and in-person. A virtual session is scheduled for Feb. 29 via Zoom, and the next in-person sessions are scheduled for March 5 on the Grandview campus and March 6 on the Yakima campus.

Students who participate should bring their Social Security number and/or card, DACA work authorization number and/or card, and driver’s license or state identification card (all, if applicable).

A valid email address is also needed for establishing Federal Student Aid ID.

In the Tri-Cities, Columbia Basin College is hosting financial aid nights with workshops in Richland, Kennewick and Pasco.

It is recommended to attendees to bring their Social Security Number or permanent resident number (if they have one), 2022 federal income tax return, and W-2 earning statements.

Columbia Basin College has a registration form to participate in the events. The next Financial Aid Night will be Feb. 27. 

Yakima Valley Community College Workshop Sessions

Yakima Campus 
March 6, April 17, and May 22
2 – 6 p.m. 
Deccio Higher Education Center, Building #8, Room 210 

Grandview Campus 
March 5, April 16, and May 21
1:30 – 4:30 p.m. 
Grandview Main, Building #56, Room 123 

Virtual Sessions
Feb. 29, 2024
2 – 6 p.m. 

Columbia Basin College Financial Aid nights

Feb. 27, March 12, March 16, April 9, April 23, May 7, and May 21
3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
SWL Building