Below are major changes that have taken effect in the FAFSA Simplification Act.
1. Contributor- Refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student's form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student or parent's answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.
- Contributors will receive an email informing them that they've been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don't already have one) to provide the required information on the student's FAFSA.
- Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student's education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA or the application will be incomplete and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.
2. Student Aid Index (SAI) A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). The new SAI formula will result in a new eligibility calculation for Federal Pell Grants and redefine a minimum need determination of SAI to be as low as -1500, in order to better target students with the highest need.
3. FAFSA Submission Summary: Replaces the Student Aid Report (SAR) as the student’s output document providing a summary of data input on the FAFSA form.
This year it is required that all FSA IDs (student and contributors) be completed and verified 5-7 days before completing the FAFSA.
The ability to create an FSA ID has historically been limited only to parents who can be verified with a Social Security Number. However, starting in December 2024, all parent and spouse contributors without a Social Security Number may now create one using the Department of Education's newly developed system to validate identity.
December 31st: FAFSA Opens
Students and guardians will need to be patient as the website has a history of crashing due to site traffic during the first few weeks of the opening. If you hear of students having problems logging into the site or it crashing while completing the FAFSA you might suggest that they try to complete it early in the morning or late in the evening.
End of January: The Department of Education announced that students' FAFSA submissions will not be provided to their selected colleges until the end of January 2024.
February/March: Award letters are sent to students outlining their eligibility
Applying for FAFSA
STEP 1 – UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA
- The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is important to understand what FAFSA is and how it will work for your educational journey after high school. This video will offer you and your family an overview of the FAFSA and how much aid you might receive.
- Step by step Financial Aid Application Process helps you understand and complete each step appropriately.
- The 2024-2025 FAFSA form is currently available.
- Students attending college in the Fall of 2024 (class of 2024, that's you!) will complete the 2024-2025 application.
- Fill it out as soon as possible to meet school and state deadlines.
- Schools and states often use FAFSA information to award nonfederal aid, but their deadlines vary. Check with the schools that you’re interested in for their deadlines and find state and federal FAFSA deadlines.
The first and suggested step is to visit the Federal Student Aid webpage which explains the financial aid process from start to finish. It is highly recommended you review this page prior to starting the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
STEP 2 – CREATE YOUR FSA ID
- Your FSA ID: The FSA ID is a username and password that you create and is used to sign your FAFSA and access certain Department of Education websites. Each student and parent will need to create their own FSA ID. Students and parents are required to use an FSA ID to sign their FAFSA form online and to access information about their financial aid on U.S. Department of Education websites.
- Creating an FSA ID is easy and this video will help walk you through each step.
- Students should never create an FSA ID for their parent or guardian. Their FSA ID may be needed for other siblings or needed if they choose to go back to college themselves.
- Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity and electronically sign your federal student aid documents.
- Your FSA ID has the same legal status as a written signature.
- Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone or allow anyone to create an FSA ID for you.
- To create an FSA ID, click here and create an account.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT create an FSA ID on behalf of someone else. That means parents should not create FSA IDs for their children and vice versa. Doing so may result in issues signing and submitting the FAFSA form and could lead to financial aid delays. (Also, it’s against the rules to create an FSA ID for someone else.)
For step-by-step instructions, watch How to Create Your FSA ID.
Your Social Security Number: You can find the number on your Social Security card. If you don’t have access to it and don’t know where it is, ask your parent or legal guardian or get a new or replacement Social Security card from the Social Security Administration. If you are not a U.S. citizen, but meet Federal Student Aid’s basic eligibility requirements, you’ll also need your Alien Registration number.
STEP 3 – APPLY FOR FAFSA
- Go to www.fafsa.gov to apply or click here!
- After you apply, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report or SAR.
- Your SAR contains the information reported on your FAFSA form and usually includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
- The EFC is a number (not a dollar amount) used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Review your SAR information to make sure it’s correct.
- The school(s) you list on your FAFSA form will get your SAR data electronically.
- Need more help? This video is a complete walkthrough of every page and tab of the FAFSA application.
- FAFSA FAQs
Your 2022 Tax Records:
- On the 2024–25 FAFSA form, you (and your parents, as appropriate) will report your 2022 income information.
- If you have experienced a reduction in income since the 2022 tax year, you should complete the FAFSA form with the info it asks for (2022), and then contact each of the schools to which you’re applying to explain and ask about a Professional Judgement - a change in income. They have the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments to your FAFSA form if warranted.
- You cannot update your 2024–2025 FAFSA form with your 2023 tax information after filing your 2023 taxes. 2022 information is what’s required. No updates are necessary; no updates are allowed.
List of school(s) you are interested in attending:
- Even if there is only a slight chance you’ll apply to a college, list the school on your FAFSA form. You can always remove schools later if you decide not to apply, but if you wait to add a school, you could miss out on first-come, first-served financial aid.
- The schools you list on your FAFSA form will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically. They will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive.
- If you add a school to your FAFSA form and later decide not to apply for admission to that school, that’s OK! The school likely won’t offer you aid until you’ve been accepted anyway.
- You can list up to 20 schools at a time on your FAFSA form.
STEP 4 – GET TO KNOW YOUR COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID COUNSELOR
- Contact the school(s) you might attend. Make sure the financial aid office at each school you’re interested in has all the information needed to determine your eligibility.
- If you’re eligible, each school’s financial aid office will send you an aid offer showing the amount and types of aid (from all sources) the school will offer you.
You can compare the aid offers you receive and see which school offers you the most affordable option once financial aid is considered.