View the FAFSA Simplification Open Forum.
The 2024-2025 FAFSA is now available!
The Department of Education is conducting a soft launch for the month of January. During the soft launch period, the Department of Education will be monitoring site performance, conducting planned pauses for maintenance, and making updates to improve the user experience for students and families.
Students and families are encouraged to visit StudentAid.gov to learn more, which will be updated to include basic information about the soft launch and what they can anticipate. Find resources for completing the 2024-25 FAFSA form, including instructions for creating a StudentAid.gov account without a Social Security number, how to complete the new 2024-25 FAFSA form, and what to do before and after completing the FAFSA form.
What is the FAFSA Simplification Act?
In 2020, the FAFSA Simplification Act was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The FAFSA Simplification Act represents a significant overhaul of federal student aid, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, need analysis, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in the Title IV programs.
Major changes required by the law include the following:
- Replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) With the Student Aid Index (SAI)
Starting with the 2024–25 award year, students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, and they'll experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid. The new need analysis formula removes the number of family members in college from the calculation, allows a minimum SAI of -1500, and implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants.
- Modifications to Family Definitions in FAFSA® Formulas
Expect changes in how a student's family size is determined aligning more with what was reported on the student/parents tax returns.
- Expanding Access to Federal Pell Grants
- The FAFSA Simplification Act will expand the Federal Pell Grant to more students and will link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level (starting with the 2024–25 award year).
- Incarcerated students in federal and state penal facilities will regain the ability to receive a Federal Pell Grant (starting with the 2023–24 award year).
- Federal Pell Grant lifetime eligibility will be restored to students whose school closed while they were enrolled or if the school is found to have misled the student (starting with the 2023–24 award year).
- Streamlining the FAFSA® Form
Where possible, the law mandates that we use data received directly from the IRS to calculate Federal Pell Grant eligibility and the SAI. This data exchange has been made possible by the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education Act (FUTURE Act), which we'll implement alongside FAFSA simplification starting with the 2024–25 award year. The FAFSA Simplification Act also removes questions about Selective Service registration and drug convictions. It also adds questions about applicants' sex, race, and ethnicity, which have no effect on federal student aid eligibility (starting with the 2023–24 award year).
Due to the major changes, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid has indicated they will be ready to offer the simplified application for the upcoming cycle. They are delaying the release until December 2023, two months after the usual October 1 release. Presently the department has stated that the 2024-2025 FAFSA will be ready mid-December 2023. However, they are not required by law to have it available until January 1, 2024.
The delay will have some clear implications that you should prepare for. This is the largest FAFSA overhaul in recent years, and it will require not only the federal government to implement changes to their processes, but states and schools need to prepare for the change as well.
If your parents are separated or divorced, who provided the most financial support?
The parent who completes the FAFSA is changing for divorced or separated parents. Previously, the parent a student lived with the most in the last calendar year was included in the FAFSA. Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the parent who provided the most financial support must complete the application.
This interface between the simplified FAFSA and the Internal Revenue Service means your private information must be protected. When you try to use the FAFSA, you'll be directed to a form to give your consent and create an FSA ID, if you don't already have one.
Federal Student Aid Estimator
The Federal Student Aid Estimator provides an estimate of how much federal student aid the student may be eligible to receive. These estimates are based on the Student Aid Index (SAI), an index to determine federal student aid eligibility.
This is NOT the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Form.
With this tool, students can find out how much federal student aid they may be eligible for starting with the 2024–25 award year—note that this tool estimates the Student Aid Index (SAI) for 2024–25 award year, not the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for 2023–24 award year.
The 2024–25 FAFSA form will be available in December 2023.
An FSA ID consists of a username and password you create to gain access to the U.S. Department of Education's online systems. An FSA ID can also serve as your legal signature when completing electronic documents.
FSA ID - Multi-Factor Authentication - New Requirements:
- Two-step verification
- All FAFSA contributor must have an FSA ID to log in to the online FAFSA
- New process to get an FSA ID for parents and spouses without a Social Security Number (SSN)
It is important for students and parents to confirm their email and cell phone in the creation process.
Question: If a parent does not want to or refuses to create an FSAID is there an alternative for that parent to provide consent such as mailing a wet signed consent page?
Answer: There is no longer a separate signature page. There are two alternative options for contributors to provide consent who do not want to or refuse to create an FSAID:
- The student applies using the paper FAFSA and obtains wet signatures from all contributors (including the parent(s)) who also affirm their consent.
- The student completes their section and self-reports information for the parent section on the FAFSA form. When the student submits their FAFSA form without the parent's signature, it will be placed in rejected status by FPS. 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.
Changes for Special or Unusual Circumstances
Under the new simplified FAFSA, financial aid administrators at colleges must let families know that students who apply for aid can pursue adjustments based on a case-by-case basis only, to adjust Cost of Attendance (COA) based on additional incurred cost that exceed the standard COA, to alter the data elements used to calculate the Student Aid Index (SAI) and/or Dependency status. This process is known as professional judgement. In certain circumstances, it can extend to declared disasters, emergencies, or economic downturns.