As you may already be aware, significant changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are being implemented beginning with the 2024-2025 school year cycle. “FAFSA Simplification” is intended to make the application process much faster and easier. In particular, there will be fewer overall questions and enhanced methods of providing the necessary tax information.
Important Changes to the FAFSA Process
2024-2025 FAFSA Available in December 2023
In past years the FAFSA would become available for students October 1 prior to the application year. For the 2024-2025 application year the Department of Education has announced that the FAFSA will not be available until December 2023. As always, it is generally advised that students complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after it is released each year. Prompt completion is especially important this year in light of the delayed release of the FAFSA.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Changes to Student Aid Index (SAI)
The Student Aid Index will be similar to the EFC in many ways, but still represents an overall change in the methodology used to determine aid eligibility. The SAI, calculated using the data provided on the FAFSA, will be used in the calculation of a student’s level of financial need and in the determination of Pell Grant eligibility. Most notably, the number of family members in college will no longer be used as a part of the SAI formula. The SAI is not intended to indicate what a family can or should contribute toward college costs.
Pell Grant Eligibility and Award Determination
Changes from FAFSA Simplification will result in an increase in the number of students eligible for Pell Grant funding. Eligibility will be determined based on the student’s SAI relative to the published federal poverty level. Students may qualify automatically for the maximum Pell Grant (currently 7,395), the minimum Pell Grant (currently $767), or a Pell Grant amount equal to the maximum amount minus the SAI. Pell Grant eligibility is likely to be available to the student as soon as the FAFSA is processed.
FSAID, Consent, and FAFSA Invitations
Students and at least one parent (sometimes both parents) will still be required to have an FSAID to access and electronically sign the FAFSA. If the reporting parents filed a joint federal tax return or a parent is divorced/separated, only one parent will need an FSAID. If married parents (including step-parents) filed separate federal tax returns, both parents will need a unique FSAID.
- New FSAIDs can be created anytime at https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/sign-in/landing. You do not need to wait for the FAFSA to be released to complete this step. A new FSAID does not need to be created if one already exists from previous years.
- In addition to using the FSAID to access the FAFSA, it will also be used to provide the consent necessary to automatically import tax data from the IRS. This will no longer be an optional step, as each applicant and parent must provide consent in order to complete the application.
- Students who are required to provide parent data on the FAFSA (most students) will “invite” the appropriate parent(s) to access the FAFSA and provide their data as part of the application process. Invited parents will receive contact from the Department of Education informing them of the process to add the necessary parent data to the student’s FAFSA.
Determination of Reporting Parent(s)
As in past years, federal tax dependency does not determine which parent(s) should report data on the FAFSA. If the biological parents are married or unmarried but living together, both will need to report data. If the parents are divorced/separated, the parent that provides the most support to the student (including child support) should report information. If that reporting parent is remarried the other individual (step parent) would also need to provide data.
Impacts and Assistance
These FAFSA changes will also have an impact on the process used to apply for New York State financial aid sources. More information on updated application procedures will be shared as it becomes available. As always, the Office of Financial Aid is happy to assist students and their families with any questions.