The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the ONLY form used to determine eligibility for all federal student aid. The FAFSA Simplification Act became law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
The FAFSA Simplification Act is an initiative by the United States Department of Education to make applying for federal student aid easier for students. It is the first major redesign of the FAFSA process in over 40 years and presents a significant overhaul of federal student aid. The Act impacts the 2024-25 FAFSA form, federal need analysis, and requires modification of policies and procedures for schools that participate in federal student aid programs.
The 2024-2025 FAFSA was not available as of October 1st. The Department of Education anticipates a launch date of the 2024-25 FAFSA in December 2023.
Benefits to Families:
- Reduces barriers for student populations
- Expands eligibility for federal student aid, including the Federal Pell Grant
- Enhanced data sharing with IRS
- Available in the 11 most common languages spoken in the United States
- Streamlined, better user experience for the FAFSA form and process by reducing the number of questions
FAFSA Changes for 2024-25
- Anyone asked to provide information on the FAFSA - student, spouse, student’s parent(s) and/or stepparents(s) - is called a contributor to the application.
- The FSA ID utilizes two-step verification. All FAFSA contributors must establish or already 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.
- The number of questions will be reduced and the application will maximize the use of previous FAFSA data.
- The Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Starting with the 2024–25 award year, students and families will see a different federal calculation of their ability to pay for college.
- In the case of divorced/separated biological or adoptive parents, the Parent of Record for the FAFSA will be the parent(s) who provided more financial support during the previous 12 months. If the Parent of Record has remarried, the step-parent information is required on the FAFSA.
- Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents (contributors) will need to provide their consent to the FUTURE Act Direct Data Exchange (FADDX) of federal tax information (FTI). The Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education Act (FUTURE Act) amended the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to mandate access to tax information of contributors. Contributors who do not file federal taxes still need to provide consent.
- The FUTURE Act also made providing consent for the exchange of FTI a requirement for receiving federal student aid. If any contributor to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the FAFSA will still be allowed, but a Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated.
- With consent to exchange FTI, the Direct Data Exchange with the IRS will replace what is currently known as the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
- The Cost of Attendance (COA) will be the starting point for calculating the SAI. COA includes direct costs (tuition, fees, housing and meals charges for which the College bills you directly) and estimated indirect costs (books, course materials, supplies and equipment, personal expenses, and transportation).) to fund an academic year’s educational expenses.
- 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.
- Students will be able to list up to 20 schools on their online FAFSA.
Applicants will be asked to report their sex, race, and ethnicity on the FAFSA, but students will be offered a choice of “Prefer Not to Answer.” Schools and state agencies won’t see responses to these questions.
More details can be found in the FAQ section of FAFSA Simplification.