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FAFSA Simplification

What is FAFSA Simplification?

The FAFSA Simplification Act is a law that overhauls the way federal student aid is determined and processed, beginning in the 2024–25 aid year. This includes changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, the need analysis process, and various policies and procedures for educational institutions participating in federal student aid programs.

Some fundamental changes in FAFSA Simplification include, but are not limited to:

The FAFSA will reduce the maximum number of questions from 108 to 46. And because the FAFSA on the Web is dynamic, some students won't even be presented with all 46 questions. This streamlined format will simplify the application process and make it less daunting for students and their families.

Previously, the FAFSA only allowed students to list up to 10 colleges and universities.

Currently, the FAFSA is only available in English and Spanish. The 2024-25 application will be expanded to include the 11 most common languages spoken by English learner students and their parents.

Previously, users had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning with 2024-25, all persons on the FAFSA must provide consent for the Department of Education to receive tax information or confirmation of non-filing status directly from the IRS. In a very small number of cases, students and families will have to enter their tax data manually, but for most, that data will be automatically transferred into the application. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions to be answered.

A contributor—a new term being introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA—refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student's form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student's 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 being 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.

A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.

Previously, the FAFSA used the number of household members attending college to determine federal aid eligibility. Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the application will still ask how many household members are in college, but your answer will not be used in the calculation of the SAI. As such, undergraduate students with siblings in college will see a change in their financial aid eligibility.

Families making less than 175% of the federal poverty level, and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will see their students receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Minimum Pell Grants will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty guidelines, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.

For dependent students, financial information was previously needed from the parent(s) the student had lived with the most in the last 12 months. With the new FAFSA, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student.

When required, families must now report the value of their small business or family farm. If the family farm includes the principal place of residence, applicants should determine the total net value of all farm assets and subtract the net value of their principal residence to determine the final value of their farm assets.