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What parents need to know about the 2024-25 FAFSA®

    Filers of the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) will utilize an updated form, answer fewer questions, and see other changes.

    The U.S. Department of Education made changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA® to streamline the user experience, aiming to make the process of filling out the form less time-consuming. There are also changes regarding how financial aid calculations are made with information students provide on the FAFSA®, along with other modifications.

    Given that one parent of a dependent student filing the FAFSA® must complete a portion of their child’s FAFSA® — including providing income information — parents may also want to be aware of some of the changes to this year’s FAFSA®.

    Here are some things parents of students utilizing the application may want to be prepared for.

    Creating an FSA ID is required (including for parents of dependent students)

    An FSA ID is your unique username that you’ll need to use to complete and update your FAFSA® electronically.

    Unlike previous years, where an FSA ID was recommended, for the 2024-25 form, students and parents must create an FSA ID to access the online FAFSA® form.

    Parents of dependent students will need their own FSA ID to complete their portion of the FAFSA®.

    It’s recommended to create your FSA ID before you set out to complete your FAFSA® form since it can take up to three days to use your FSA ID after you first create it.

    Students and parents will see different questions on the FAFSA® related to their roles

    The FAFSA® application will now have about 36 questions for most filers, compared to around 108 from previous years.

    For dependent students, both the parent and student must complete their portions of the form to submit the FAFSA®. Students and parents will now see different questions related to their roles. Students will only be able to answer questions about themselves and likewise for parents.

    "Contributor" is a new term on the 2024–25 FAFSA®

    Contributor refers to anyone asked to provide information on the FAFSA®. In some cases, a parent of a student or a student’s spouse is a contributor. Dependent students who’ll need to provide information alongside a parent on their FAFSA® can find more information about which parent will be a contributor when they fill out their FAFSA®.

    All FAFSA® contributors can create a account even if they don’t have a Social Security number.

    You’ll be required to provide consent to have your tax information electronically transferred

    Students and their contributors (in some cases, a parent) will now be required to provide consent and approval to have the IRS transfer their federal tax information into the FAFSA®.

    Even if someone doesn’t have a Social Security number, didn’t file a tax return, or filed a tax return outside of the U.S., they must provide consent and approval. If students or contributors don’t provide consent and approval, the student won’t be eligible for federal student aid.

    Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

    The SAI is a number calculated using the information that students and their contributors provide on the FAFSA® that colleges and universities use to determine how much federal student aid and other types of aid to award each student. The SAI is replacing EFC, which was a calculation that resulted from previous iterations of the FAFSA®.

    There will no longer be a "sibling discount"

    Going forward, the Department of Education will no longer take into account whether a family has multiple children in college simultaneously as a part of its need analysis. Many referred to this in the past as the “sibling discount.” While this is being eliminated, students may now have expanded access to federal student aid in other ways.

    There’s a change for divorced parents

    With the previous version of the FAFSA®, if you were a dependent and your parents were either divorced or separated, you’d 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

    Since parents of dependent students need to submit their financial information on the FAFSA® for their child to be eligible to receive federal financial aid, parents may want to consider completing their portion of the FAFSA® as soon as possible as some financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. A delay on their part could potentially affect how much aid their child can access.