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Changes to the upcoming FAFSA® for the 2024-25 School year

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) for the 2024-25 school year has some significant changes, including a new launch date and updates to the application. These changes are the result of the FAFSA® Simplification Act, which was enacted to streamline and improve the process of applying for federal financial aid.

    In this article, we’ll break down the basics of the changes, including the new way financial need calculations will be made and commonly asked questions about the FAFSA® going forward.

    FAFSA® 2024-25 changes that will impact your application

    Regardless of whether you’re a returning student who’s filled out a FAFSA® before or you’ve never filled out the FAFSA® form, there are some changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA® form you probably want to be aware of. 

    When does the 2024-25 FAFSA® open?

    The 2024-25 FAFSA® opens in December 2023, not October 1 like in previous years. The exact date for when it’ll be live is still pending (as of November 20, 2023). You can get the most recent updates on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website.

    What’s the 2024-25 FAFSA® deadline?

    Likely, the federal deadline for the FAFSA® for the 2024-25 school year is June 30, 2025, although the date has yet to be confirmed. Keep in mind that there are varying state and even college-specific deadlines that differ from the federal deadline regarding the FAFSA®. Be sure to double-check any deadlines you might want to adhere to in order to help ensure that you complete the form at the right time to receive the maximum amount of financial aid you’re eligible for.

    What are the changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA® form?

    The FAFSA® application will now have about 36 questions for most filers, compared to around 108 from previous years (different applicants, depending on their situation, can expect to see different questions, which is why the exact number will vary). This change to the number of questions is meant to make the application more user-friendly and hopefully require less time to complete compared to earlier versions of the form.

    In addition, some barriers to financial aid have already been removed due to the FAFSA® Simplification Act. In previous years, the FAFSA® required that you disclose any drug-related convictions, which would result in you being ineligible to receive financial aid. With the 2024-25 FAFSA®, you’ll no longer be required to disclose this information as it’ll no longer impact your financial aid eligibility. In addition, male applicants are no longer required to be registered with the Selective Service (“the draft”) to qualify for financial aid.

    Additional changes to be aware of:

    • You can now list up to 20 schools on your online FAFSA® at one time as opposed to the ten permitted on previous iterations of the form.
    • For the 2024-25 FAFSA®, students and parents won’t be able to access their online FAFSA® form without an FSA ID that now needs to be created before beginning the application.
    • Students and parents will now see different questions related to their roles. For example, if you’re a student, you’ll only be able to answer questions about yourself, and the same applies to parents. Parents and students must have completed their portion of the form to submit the FAFSA® if the student is a dependent.

    What tax year do you use to file the 2024-25 FAFSA®?

    There haven’t been any changes for the tax years used to file the FAFSA® with the new iteration of the FAFSA®. For the 2024-25 FAFSA®, applicants will use their tax information from 2022.

    How you can pull your tax information into your FAFSA® is changing, though. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool, which FAFSA® applicants in past years could opt-in and opt-out of to pull in their tax information into the FAFSA® is no longer going to be an option.

    Instead, due to the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education Act (FUTURE Act), the FAFSA® will now be authorized to conduct a direct data exchange between the Department of Education and the IRS. With the 2024-25 FAFSA®, there will be a requirement to provide consent for tax information to be accessed through a secure method, including any required spousal or parental information.

    FAFSA® 2024-25 changes that might impact the federal aid you receive

    There are a few changes to expect in how federal aid will be calculated utilizing what you supply to the FAFSA® going forward. One of the most significant changes is that Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is being replaced with the Student Aid Index (SAI) — but there are other changes to be aware of, too.

    Transition from EFC to the SAI

    Schools will now use the SAI for the 2024-25 award year instead of EFC to help determine the amount of student aid to award students.

    The SAI formula utilizes the information students provide on their FAFSA® along with federal tax information that will now be required to be given by students to qualify for federal student aid.

    The reason for the name change — rather than just a change to the formula — is that many found the term “Expected Family Contribution” to be misleading and interpreted it as the total amount families were expected to pay for college tuition. In reality, EFC was used by schools to award financial aid. The change to SAI is meant to avoid this confusion.

    Beyond just the name change, there are some critical differences between the EFC and the SAI. Some of these differences are:

    • The SAI doesn’t include the number of family members in college in its federal aid eligibility calculation, as the EFC did
    • Unlike the EFC, the SAI can be a negative number. The minimum SAI is -1,500 instead of zero like it was with EFC to give financial aid administrators more insight into students with challenging situations
    • Alternate EFCs for enrollment periods other than nine months have been eliminated
    • The Simplified Needs Test (SNT) and Auto-Zero calculations will no longer be used

    Differences between the EFC and SAI calculations

    Similar to the EFC, an applicant’s SAI is still determined by one of three formulas:

    • Formula A – Dependent students
    • Formula B – Independent students without dependents other than a spouse
    • Formula C – Independent students with dependents other than a spouse

    There’s no drastic change to how the calculations are made, although some of the data elements used in these formulas have been changed. There will no longer be simplified versions of these formulas to calculate assets.

    For more information on how each formula is calculated, visit the 2024-25 Draft SAI and Pell Grant Eligibility Guide, published in Federal Student Aid’s Knowledge Center.

    Change to dependency status

    Beginning with the 2024-25 award year, students who are separated will no longer be considered married and shouldn’t indicate they’re married on the FAFSA®.

    The dependency override (DO) provision, which can take place when a student is unable to contact their parents or when contact poses a risk to the student, has also expanded. This could lead to more students declaring themselves independent on the FAFSA®.

    Common FAQs about the 2024-25 FAFSA®

    What are the changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA® for veterans?

    Veterans can apply for the 2024-25 FAFSA® with slight changes to the definition of “veteran.” A “veteran” in this new version of the form includes someone who served in the active military, naval, air, or space service and was discharged or released under conditions that weren’t labeled “dishonorable.” 

    How do you file the 2024-25 FAFSA® if your parents are divorced?

    With the previous version of the FAFSA®, if you were a dependent and your parents were either divorced or separated, you would have used the financial information of the parent you lived with the most in the tax year for your FAFSA®. However, with the 2024-25 FAFSA®, the financial information of the parent providing the most financial support will be used.

    Final thoughts

    It’s important to familiarize yourself with changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA® if you plan to utilize it to best set yourself up for success.