Big Changes are coming to the FAFSA for the 2024-2025 Award Year! The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed by Congress in 2020 and includes the first major redesign of the FAFSA system in over 40 years.
A better FAFSA means a better future and will offer families an improved interface and a more seamless filing experience. Updates to the FAFSA will reduce errors, remove barriers, and expand student eligibility for federal aid.
What is Changing:
- The 2024-25 FAFSA opened in December 2023 (instead of October 1).
- Streamlined application process with fewer questions, and an easier way to transfer tax information directly from the IRS
- Consent will be required from all contributors on the FAFSA annually
- The Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that includes how federal student aid eligibility is calculated
- New terminology will be added to the FAFSA
What hasn’t Changed:
- Students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually if applying for federal financial aid
- The FAFSA is the application that helps institutions determine financial aid eligibility for a student. By completing the FAFSA, the student may be eligible for various grants, loans or campus employment opportunities.
- Reported income will still be prior-prior (example: 2024-25 FAFSA will require 2022 income)
- Contributor: anyone who is required to provide their information on the FAFSA, including the student; the student’s spouse; a biological or adoptive parent; or the parent’s spouse (stepparent).
- Consent: each contributor will now need to provide consent to release their Federal Tax Information (FTI) to the FAFSA through the Direct Data Exchange (DDX), even if they did not file a U.S. Tax Return.
- Direct Data Exchange (DDX):an improved system that is replacing the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer an individual’s FTI to the Department within the FAFSA.
- Federal Tax Information (FTI): information that is transferred directly from the IRS to the FAFSA.
- Primary or Custodial Parent: for a dependent student whose parents are divorced or separated, the primary or custodial parent (contributor) for the FAFSA is the parent who provides the greater portion of the student’s financial support. This parent is required to provide their information (and if applicable their spouse’s information) on the FAFSA form.
- Student Aid Index (SAI): replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which brings changes to how the SAI is calculated and financial aid eligibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
A contributor is anyone who is asked to provide information on an applicant’s FAFSA including:
- The student;
- The student's spouse (if applicable);
- A biological or adoptive parent; and/or
- The spouse of the married/remarried parent who is on the FAFSA
A Contributor is NOT a grandparent, foster parent, legal guardian, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, even if they helped provide for or raise the student, unless they have legally adopted the student.
Starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA, students will determine which parent to report based on which parent provided the most financial support during the past 12 months prior to submitting the FAFSA even if the reported parent does not claim the student on their taxes.
Example: Stephen lives with his biological mother who is divorced and not remarried. His father provides child support and claimed Stephen on his taxes but overall, his mother provided most of his financial support during the past 12 months before he submits the FAFSA. Stephen will invite his mother to be a contributor on his FAFSA.
If Stephen's mother had remarried, he would include both his mother and stepfather on the FAFSA as contributors.
If neither parent provided support in the 12-month period, the parent of record is the parent who provided the greater portion of support during the most recent year that the student received financial support from a parent.
This is a change from previous years as the parent with whom the student lived with most in the past 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA is no longer a criterion for divorced or separated parents.
How do students invite contributors to their FAFSA?
Students will need the following contributor information to invite them to complete their required portion of the FAFSA:
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number (SSN), if applicable
- and Email Address
Contributors will need to provide personal and financial information on their section of the FAFSA.
Contributors will be invited to complete their portion of the FAFSA form by entering their name, date of birth, Social Security number (if they have one), and email address. They must also provide personal and financial information in their own sections of the FAFSA form.
- All students and contributors must create a gov/fsa-id/create-account account to complete the FAFSA form online. In some cases when contributors have filed taxes jointly, only one contributor will need an FSA ID. We suggest all contributors create an FSA ID in the event it is needed in the future.
- Returning FAFSA filers (& contributors) do not need to create a new FSA ID if they already have one.
- NEW for 2024-25: If a parent or spouse contributor doesn't have a Social Security number (SSN),they will still need to create an FSA ID to fill out their portion of the student's
FAFSA form online.
During the account creation process, applicants will be asked knowledge-based identity verification questions. If any questions are answered incorrectly, applicants will receive an error message and will need to work with the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) to verify their identity. Applicants will be emailed to provide required identity verification documentation .
No. The FSA ID process is not changing. It's even better that parents and students create their FSA ID and have it ready before the FAFSA application starts. It can take up to 24 - 72 hours after creating the ID for it to be verified and usable.
No. You can retrieve your existing FSA ID if you forgot your username and password.
Yes. Starting 2024-25, parents and/or spouses that do not have a social security number will need to create an FSA ID. Visit studentaid.gov and click on 'Create Account' to begin. For help, visit the How to Get an FSA ID for Individuals Without a Social Security Number article.
If the parent you indicate on the FAFSA is currently married or re-married, it'll depend on how they filed taxes.
- If they filed taxes as married filing joint, only one parent needs an FSA ID.
- If they filed separately, both parents would need their own FSA ID (and both need to give consent).
Consent, Taxes & Financial Data
According to the Future Act, all students and contributors must provide consent to the following:
- Have their federal tax information transferred directly into the FAFSA form via Future Act Direct Data Exchange (FA-DDX) with the IRS;
- Have their federal tax information used to determine the student's eligibility for federal student aid; and
- Allow the U.S. Department of Education to share its federal tax information with postsecondary institutions and state higher education agencies for use in awarding and administering financial aid.
Important: Even if students or contributors don't have a Social Security number, didn't file taxes, or filed taxes outside of the U.S., they still need to provide consent.
What if I don't want to provide consent as a student or a required contributor?
If a student, spouse, or parent contributor doesn't provide consent on the FAFSA, the Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated, and the student will not be eligible for any federal aid, including federal grants, loans and work-study.
Contributors still need to provide consent when submitting the FAFSA so the IRS can confirm to Federal Student Aid (FSA) the student, parents, and/or spouse didn't file taxes.
After you provide consent on the FAFSA and if the IRS cannot transfer your Federal Tax Information (FTI) to your FAFSA application, the application will allow you to self-report it. Self-reporting one's tax information on the FAFSA does not override the requirement for each required contributor to provide consent on the FAFSA form.
There are two alternative options for contributors to provide consent who do not want to or refuse to create an FSA ID.
Option 1: The student applies using the paper FAFSA and obtains wet signatures from all contributors, including the parents who also affirm their consent. The form must be mailed to the address on the application. This method is not recommended due to complexity and increased processing time.
Option 2: The student completes their section and self-reports information for the parent section on the online FAFSA. When the student submits their FAFSA without the parent signature, it will be placed in rejected status. The parent can then provide their signature and consent on a paper copy of the FAFSA Submission Summary. This method is not recommended due to complexity and increased processing time.
If the contributor denies consent and submits the FAFSA without a signature, they can correct this by adding consent at a later date. It doesn’t matter what that contributor's role is; they can go online and submit a correction, or they can submit the correction using the FAFSA Submission Summary and mailing it to the FAFSA Processing System (FPS).
Making this correction to provide consent and to add a signature to the FAFSA must be done by the contributor, not the financial aid administrator.
Student Aid Index (SAI)
SAI, or Student Aid Index, is replacing the term Expected Family Contribution, known as EFC. The SAI brings a change in the methodology used to determine financial aid.
What is the main difference between the SAI (starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA and EFC (used until 2023-24 FAFSA)?
The Student Aid Index (SAI) represents a change in the methodology used to determine aid:
- The number of family members in college is no longer a factor in determining aid eligibility, but it is still a required question on the FAFSA form for information only.
- The net worth of a business is no longer limited to those with more than 100 full-time employees. Applicants will be asked to report the net worth of all businesses, regardless of the size of business.
- The net worth of a farm now includes the value of a family farm, however; the value of a family's primary residence is still excluded.
- Child support received will now count as an asset instead of untaxed income.
- If students get a negative SAI, will they get a higher Pell Grant?
- Students with a negative or 0 SAI will be eligible for the maximum Pell Grant. The difference is that the negative SAI indicates the student has a higher need than the student with 0 SAI, being eligible for other grants, if available, like Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).
Applicants must still complete the FAFSA with the required tax year information. Families who have experienced a change of income may have their situation re-evaluated by providing supporting documentation. Check out our Special Conditions tab for more details.
While the number in college question is still on the 2024-25 FAFSA, it will not impact the formula that determines aid eligibility.
If additional family members in college creates a financial hardship that can be documented, families may submit a Special Conditions request by providing supporting documentation. This request will be reviewed by Student Financial Services (SFS) to determine if the student may qualify for additional financial aid, including loans.
More information will be released as we get closer to the release of the 2024-25 FAFSA in December 2023.
After the student and all contributors submit the 2024-25 FAFSA, if the Student Aid Index (SAI) is negative or a 0, there is no need to request the Special Conditions review as the student is already receiving the maximum Pell grant.