FAFSA® Simplification Act
The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed into law on December 27, 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations
Act, 2021. The Act represents a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to offer federal
student aid starting with the 2024-25 academic year. This includes the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), needs analysis (means of determining aid eligibility), and many policies and procedures
for schools that participate in federal student aid programs. The law will affect every school that offers assistance from the federal student aid
Additionally, the law has the potential to affect eligibility for state financial
aid programs that use FAFSA® data to determine whether certain criteria are met.
Due to these significant changes, the 2024-2025 FAFSA® will be available by December 31, 2023. The Department of Education will begin sending processed FAFSA® results to us at the end of January.
This is only temporary for 2024. After the 2024-2025 aid year, the FAFSA® will be available in October as usual.
We have highlighted some of the most significant changes related to the student experience
below, you may also review studentaid.gov for additional resources as released by the Department of Education.
2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Changes
The benefits of the FAFSA® Simplification Act include:
- Streamlined application process
- Better user experience for the FAFSA®
- Expanded eligibility for federal student aid
- Reduced barriers for certain student population (e.g., homeless and unaccompanied
youth, incarcerated students, English language learners, and students from low-income
Terminology updates that all students and parents should be familiar with:
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be Student Aid Index (SAI)
- Student Aid Report (SAR) will be FAFSA® Submission Summary (FSS)
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will be IRS Direct Data Exchange
- Anyone who is required to provide information on the FAFSA® is referred to as a Contributor (see below).
- An FSA ID is also now referred to as a StudentAid.gov account.
Who are contributors on the FAFSA® and what do they need to do?
A contributor is anyone who is required to provide consent for Federal Tax Information
(FTI) and a signature on the FAFSA®. For dependent students, this includes the student and the student’s parent(s) (biological,
adopted and/or step-parent if applicable). For independent students, this includes
the student and the student’s spouse if applicable. If an independent student is married and filed separately, both individuals are contributors and must have FSA IDs.
A student's answers on the FAFSA® form will determine which contributors will be required to provide information. Students
will invite a contributor to complete their portion of the FAFSA® form by entering the contributor's name, date of birth, SSN, and email address.
Contributors are required to give consent to have their federal tax information (FTI)
transferred from the IRS. Consent authorizes direct access and disclosure of IRS data
and allows for disclosure of that information to state entities, institutions and
scholarship organizations. If any contributor refuses to give consent, the student will be ineligible for federal,
state, and institutional need-based financial aid.
If a dependent student's parents are unmarried and living together, both parents will be contributors, will
need to have separate Federal Student Aid (FSA) IDs, and need to provide consent. Dependent students whose parents filed their U.S. income tax return as Married Filing Jointly only
require one parent contributor to complete the FAFSA®. If the student's parents filed separately, both parents will be considered contributors and therefore
need separate FSA IDs.
Note: If a contributor doesn't have an SSN, they can still be invited to complete
their portion of the FAFSA® form. To invite a contributor who doesn't have an SSN, the student will indicate
that the contributor doesn't have an SSN and will instead provide the contributor's
To complete the contributor's portion of the FAFSA® form, the contributor will
- receive an email informing them that they've been identified as a contributor;
- create a StudentAid.gov account (FSA ID) if they don't already have one;
- review information about completing their section of the FAFSA® form; and
- provide the required personal and financial information and consent and approval on
the student's FAFSA® form.
Which parent(s) should be included on my FAFSA®? (Dependent students only)
- Parents who live together
Parental income and assets in the case of student whose parents are married and not
separated, or who are unmarried but live together, shall include the income and assets
of both parents.
- Divorced or separated parents
Effective with the 2024-25 award year, there are changes to who is the parent of record
(primary parent) on the FAFSA®. Parental income and assets for a student whose parents are divorced or separated,
but not remarried, is determined by including only the income and assets of the parent who provides the greater portion of the student's financial support during the 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA® even if the student does not live with that parent or lives with the other parent.
You will notice that the parent with whom the student lived the most in the past 12
months prior to filing the FAFSA® is no longer a criterion for divorced or separated parents.
- If neither parent provided support in the 12-month period immediately prior to filing the FAFSA®, the parent of record is the parent who provided the greater portion of support during
the most recent year that the student received financial support from a parent.
- If both parents claim an equal amount of support, then the parent of record is the
parent with the greater amount of income or assets.
- Remarried parents
If a parent who is divorced or widowed and would be included on the FAFSA® has remarried, the income of the parent's spouse must be included if the student's
parent and the stepparent are married as of the date the FAFSA® is completed.
The new FAFSA® application will have a “Who is my parent?” wizard tool to assist students in determining
which parent should be included as a contributor.
Why the switch from Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to Student Aid Index (SAI)?
Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college,
and they will experience a change in how eligibility for the federal student aid programs
is determined. The new needs analysis formula removes the number of family members
in college from the calculation, allows a minimum Student Aid Index (SAI) of negative
$1,500, and implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell
Federal Student Aid has released a Federal Student Aid Estimator to help students find out how much federal student aid they may be eligible for using
an estimate of the SAI.
Notable changes to the federal SAI methodology include the following:
- The number of children in college is not considered in the SAI calculation. Undergraduate
students with siblings in college may see a change in their aid eligibility.
- The formula reduces the number of data items and allowances against income, with untaxed
income data items being removed from the FAFSA®.
- Annual child support received will now be an asset and reported based on the last
complete calendar year. Which year is used will be based on when the FAFSA® is completed. For example, if the FAFSA® is completed in December 2023 when it opens, child support received would be reported
from 2022 totals. But, if the FAFSA® was completed in 2024, the child support received would be reported from 2023 totals.
- Business net worth will now be reported regardless of the size of the business.
- Family Farm net worth will now be reported, except for the part of the farm that is
the family’s primary residence, which should be deducted from the total net worth.
More guidance will be given by the Department of Education on this calculation with
the 2024-2025 FAFSA® directions.
- The applicant’s family size will be based on the tax data used for the FAFSA® application and downloaded directly from the IRS. The Contributor will have the ability
to update the family size if the number has changed since the tax year of the federal
tax information (FTI) being downloaded. Note: The tax information downloaded for each
contributor will be based on the prior-prior tax year, which is consistent with the
current practice. For 2024-2025, it would be two years back from the base year of
2024, which would be the 2022 tax year.
How can I prepare for this change?
All Contributors must have a StudentAid.gov account (FSA ID) to log in and complete
their portion of the FAFSA® application.
- Create a StudentAid.gov account (FSA ID) for yourself and encourage any contributors, such as your parent(s) or spouse, to
create theirs. There will be a tool for students to use through the process to determine
which parent(s) should be invited as a contributor. Please note: If you or your contributor already has an FSA ID, you will use your existing FSA ID.
- This account and password gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online system
and serves as your electronic signature.
- By creating a StudentAid.gov account, you can fill out the FAFSA® when it’s available, sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN), apply for repayment plans,
complete loan counseling, and use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Help Tool.
- Complete the FAFSA® as soon as it opens in December. Watch this video on: "What's Changed for the 2024-2025 FAFSA® form?"
- The general types of aid available to students and the federal student loan limits.
- The FAFSA® will still be required for consideration of federal financial aid every year as well
as for certain state and institutional aid programs.
- Though the release of the FAFSA® is delayed for 2024-25, the Department of Education will continue to make it available
on October 1 starting again with the 2025-26 FAFSA®.
- The FAFSA® will still request tax information from the prior-prior year, which means students will report 2022 income and assets on the 2024-25 application. Families with significant reductions in income levels can submit a Special Circumstance Form.
- The questions regarding a student's gender, race, and ethnicity will continue to have no effect on federal student aid eligibility and are included for statistical purposes and data collection only. This information is collected by the Department of Education and is not shared with the University of Dallas.