The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is getting its biggest makeover in decades for the 2024-2025 application cycle, resulting in a pushed back application launch this year. Instead of the typical October 1st release, the new 2024-2025 FAFSA is now expected by December 31, 2023.
Here’s an overview of some of the changes to expect with the new simplified FAFSA based on recent announcements.
FSA IDs Required for All
Going forward, every contributor will need to create their own FSA ID from StudentAid.gov to access and sign the application. Unlike previous years that only required one parent FSA ID, married parents who file taxes separately will need to create separate FSA IDs to fully utilize the IRS data tools. By expanding access to FSA IDs and allowing direct IRS tax info for all parents, more families will be able to complete the FAFSA accurately without extra verification hurdles.
The new simplified FAFSA also removes past barriers for non-citizen parents. Now, parents without Social Security Numbers, including those with ITINs, can acquire an FSA ID and provide their tax information directly in the application.
More Languages Available
The updated FAFSA form will be offered in the 11 most commonly spoken languages in the US to improve accessibility for more families: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Haitian, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
Applicants can expect to answer substantially fewer questions. The number of FAFSA questions will be reduced from over 100 to between 18-30 depending on the individual situation.
The new FAFSA will have about 46 questions, down from 108 on the previous version. However, some questions have multiple parts, so the total number of items to complete remains similar. The exact number of questions applicants see will vary based on individual circumstances. While not dramatically shorter, the FAFSA simplifies the process through clearer wording, divided sections for students and parents, and carryover of information year-to-year. This should streamline completion time, especially after the initial application.
FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool
All applicants must consent to importing their tax data directly from the IRS to streamline income information. Manually entering tax details will no longer be an option.
“Expected Family Contribution” (EFC) is now “Student Aid Index” (SAI). The goal there was to eliminate confusion about the meaning of the number, as it is not the amount that the family will actually need to pay.
The updated FAFSA allows students to list up to 20 colleges to receive their financial information, increased from 10 previously. The paper FAFSA is still limited to 10. As before, listed institutions cannot see what other colleges were added. Students should be aware of any state aid requirements to list an eligible in-state school first if that is needed to qualify for funding. Overall, the higher direct submission limit cuts down paperwork.
More information and links to materials and forms can be found at the US Department of Education's website.
With the pending improvements making the process smoother, submitting the FAFSA is as vital as ever for gaining access to financial aid. Be sure to apply as early as possible once it opens!