FAFSA Simplification — Are You Ready?

Big changes are coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application for the upcoming 2024-2025 aid year! 

What can you do now?

  • The 2024-2025 FAFSA is available now, go to www.studentaid.gov/fafsa to get started.
  • The 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is available periodically as part of a soft launch. During the soft launch, the FAFSA form will be available for short periods of time while the Department of Education monitors site performance and form functionality. There may be pauses for site maintenance and technical updates as needed.
  • If you haven’t already, collect or create your FSA ID. New to 2024-2025, contributors who do not have a Social Security Number will be able to establish an electronic FSA ID.
  • Determine if or which parent is considered a Contributor for the FAFSA.
  • Collect 2022 federal tax information for the student and Contributor(s), including net business and/or farm values.

What does this mean for you?

  • Applicants will have ample time to fill out the 2024-25 FAFSA and should not rush to complete the form immediately. If you visit the site during a planned pause, check back later to access the form. Visit www.StudentAid.gov/announcements-events/fafsa-support  for more information on what to expect during the soft launch. 
  • Students who submit the FAFSA by our priority deadline of March 15, 2024 will be given equal consideration for need-based institutional aid and should continue to review www.studentaid.gov and complete the form as it becomes available to them.
  • Our preferential deadline remains March 15th.
  • Schools will not be sent FAFSA information until the end of January – schools will not be able to confirm receipt of FAFSA until February at the earliest.

What's Changing?

  • 2024-2025 FAFSA completion date
    • Normally the FAFSA becomes available October 1st each year, but the 2024-2025 FAFSA was made available through a soft launch beginning December 30, 2023.
  • The term “EFC"
    • With the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be replaced with the Student Aid Index (SAI) – this is a new need analysis formula that we will use when awarding need-based grants and scholarships.
  • Streamlined application
    • You’ll notice fewer questions when completing the 2024-2025 FAFSA and an easier way to transfer tax information directly from the IRS.
  • New terminology
    • You’ll notice a few new terms like contributor (anyone who is asked to provide information on the FAFSA, a parent or student spouse for example) and consent (each contributor will need to consent to their information being included on the FAFSA).


Frequently Asked Questions & Resources

The FAFSA Simplification Act passed by the US Congress in 2020 allows for the first major redesign of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process in over 40 years. It represents a significant overhaul of federal student aid, including changes to the FAFSA form, need analysis, storage of federal student aid application data, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in Title IV programs. Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college and experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid.
  • The number of questions will be reduced and the application will maximize the use of previously collected data.
  • Students will be able to list up to 20 schools on their FAFSA via the online application.
  • The Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  • The Cost of Attendance (COA) will be the starting point for calculating the SAI. COA includes direct costs (charges for which the university bills you directly) and estimated indirect costs (living expenses) to fund educational expenses for a year.
  • Foster, homeless, and unaccompanied youth—as well as applicants who cannot provide parental information—will be able to complete the form with a provisional independent student determination and receive a calculated SAI.
  • Anyone asked to provide information on the aid application—student, spouse, student’s parent(s) and/or stepparents(s)—is called a “contributor” to the application.
  • Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents (contributors) will now need to provide their consent to provide their Federal Tax Information (FTI) in the new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information section of the FAFSA for federal student aid eligibility.
  • A direct data share with the IRS will replace what is currently known as the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
  • If any contributor to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed. However, a Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated.
  • The Custodial Parent on your FAFSA will be the parent(s) who provided you with more financial support, instead of the parent(s) with whom you lived more during the past 12 months.
  • There will be two-step verification and all FAFSA contributors must have an FSA ID to log into the online form. There will be a new process to get an FSA ID for parents and spouses without a Social Security number.
  • Applicants will be asked to report their sex, race, and ethnicity on the FAFSA itself, but students will be offered a choice of “Prefer Not to Answer.” Schools and state agencies won’t see responses to these questions on the FAFSA.

Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, and they will experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid.

  • The formula for calculating the Student Aid Index (SAI) is: COA – SAI = financial need.
  • The new need-analysis formula:
    • removes the number of family members in college from the calculation,
    • allows a minimum SAI of -$1,500,
    • implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants based on federal poverty levels and family size.
  • Child support received will be included in assets and not as untaxed income.
  • Families who own a small business/farm that also serves as primary residence will now have assets of that business/farm considered in their need-analysis calculation
The Student Aid Index (SAI) is used by financial aid offices when determining student eligibility for need-based financial aid. The SAI can range from negative $1,500 (-$1,500) to $999,999. A lower SAI (including negative SAI) indicates a higher financial need.

The SAI is a number that determines each student’s eligibility for certain types of federal student aid and will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

  • SAI will determine eligibility for all aid except for determining minimum and maximum Pell Grants.
  • Pell Grant will be based on Dependency, Marital Status, adjusted gross income (AGI), Poverty Level, and Enrollment Status.
  • EFC could never go below 0, but the SAI can be as low as negative $1,500 (-$1,500).
  • SAI formula removes the state and other tax income exclusion.
  • SAI formula eliminates the family farm and small business asset exclusions–families have to report.
  • Income protection allowances are updated to higher amounts.
  • Number in college is eliminated so that SAI will not take into consideration the number of family members in college.
  • For FAFSA filers with divorced parents, the parent who should file the FAFSA is the one who provided a greater portion of student’s financial support and no longer who the student lived with the most.
To complete the FAFSA, you and your parent(s), if you are a dependent student, will be required to consent to the IRS to share your tax information with the FAFSA processor. Each person required to provide their information on the FAFSA will need an FSA ID. It will be helpful to have records of child support received, and a net worth of investments, businesses, and farms, if applicable. If the Federal processor is unable to retrieve your tax information from the IRS, you should also have the tax returns available (2022 tax returns for the 2024/25 academic year).
The FAFSA Submission Summary replaces the Student Aid Report (SAR) as the student’s output document providing a summary of data input on the FAFSA form.
Family Size replaces the term “household size” on the FAFSA form. It captures the appropriate number of family members and dependents in the applicant’s household.