FAFSA Simplification

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fafsa simplification

The FAFSA Simplification Act introduces significant changes and overhaul to the processes and systems to award federal student aid. This includes the FAFSA form, need analysis, and the many policies and procedures. While some changes began during the 2021-2022 award year, the full implementation will happen during the 2024-2025 academic year. The goal of these changes will make it easier for students and families to apply for federal student aid and to help streamline the process.

Key Changes

  • The 2024-2025 FAFSA will be available later in December 2023. The exact date to be announced.
  • Streamline the application process by reducing the number of questions on the FAFSA and making it easier to transfer tax information directly from the IRS.
    • List up to 20 colleges on your FAFSA.
    • 2024-2025 FAFSA will be available in 11 languages.
  • Replacing Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI is calculated and used to determine your ability to pay for college and aid eligibility. There will be changes in the methodology used to determine aid.
    • Child support received will count as asset.
    • Family farms and businesses will count as asset.
    • The number of family members in college will no longer be considered in the need analysis formula.
    • Allows a minimum SAI of -1500.
  • New terminology being used in the financial aid eligibility process.

Terminology Changes

  • Consent and Approval: Each contributor will be required to provide consent and approval to have their federal tax information transferred from the IRS, have their tax data used to determine the student's eligibility for aid, and allow the U.S. Department of Education to share their tax information with institutions to administer Title IV aid. The consent is necessary even if the contributor does not have an SSN, did not file taxes, or filed taxes in a foreign country.
  • Contributor: Anyone who is asked to provide information on the student's FAFSA. This includes the student, student's spouse (if applicable), biological or adoptive parent, or the spouse of the remarried parent who is on the FAFSA. 
  • Federal Tax Information (FTI): Rather than importing tax information from the IRS to FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT), application will provide consent to provide their FTI via a direct data share with the IRS.
  • Student Aid Index (SAI): The SAI replaces what is formerly known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The SAI is calculated from the information on your FAFSA to determine your family's ability to pay for college and is used to determine aid eligibility.
  • Unusual Circumstances: When a student is unable to contact a parent or contact with the parent poses physical or emotional harm to the student. Students with unusual circumstances will be given a provisional independent status and complete the FAFSA without providing parent information.

Contributor

For the 2024-2025 FAFSA, a contributor refers to anyone (student, the student's spouse, biological or adoptive parent, or the parent's spouse) who is required to provide information on the FAFSA. The answers to the FAFSA will determine which contributor will be required to provide their information and consent. The student or parent will invite contributor to complete their portion of the FAFSA. The contributor's name, date of birth, SSN, and email address will  be needed. If a contributor does not have an SSN, they can still be invited to complete their portion of FAFSA using alternate information.

The process for contributor to provide their information and consent. 

  1. The contributor will receive an email informing them that they have been identified as a contributor.
  2. Create a FSA ID on StudentAid.gov if they do not already have one.
  3. Review the information about complete their section of the FAFSA; and
  4. Provide the required personal information and financial information and consent and approval on the student's FAFSA. If the contributor does not provide consent and approval to have their FTI transferred into FAFSA, the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

fafsa contributor infographic

How You Can Prepare

  • Watch for emails from the U.S. Department of Education to ensure you don't miss any important updates.
  • Opt in to SMS (text) messages by logging in to your StudentAid.gov account to receive up-to-date notifications and information.
  • Follow Federal Student Aid on X (Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook for announcement and resources.
  • Ensuring you and your contributor(s) have a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). If you previously completed a FAFSA, you already have an FSA ID and do not need to create a new one. That is the same for your parent if they signed your FAFSA. If you are a new student completing the FAFSA for the first time for 2024-2025 or if your contributor(s) does not have an FSA ID, you may create an account on StudentAid.gov.

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