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10 Things to Know About the New FAFSA

February 5, 2024
By Brendan Williams

10 Things to Know About the New FAFSA

Big changes have arrived for the 2024-2025 FAFSA. Here's what you need to know to best support students and families in completing the financial aid application:

1. The 2024-2025 FAFSA is open.

The FAFSA is now open for students and families to submit, but there have been reports of technical glitches and other issues with the form. Even with these challenges, uAspire recommends that students and families should try and get the form submitted. If they run into technical glitches, try using a different browser or device, returning later, or even considering deleting the FAFSA and starting over again. There are some issues with no workarounds, specifically creating FSA IDs for a parent with no social security number and getting their information on the FAFSA. Those students should consider submitting a paper FAFSA if their deadlines are coming up. Federal Student Aid created a page to share common issues FAFSA filers are experiencing and that they are working to resolve.

2. The FSA ID is more important than ever.

To start the FAFSA, an FSA ID is required. Students and parents must have an FSA ID to fill out the form, including parents without a Social Security number. 

3. The questions are different.

Questions have been removed, added, and rearranged. Use the most up-to-date FAFSA resources with students from Federal Student Aid, NCAN, and uAspire (sign up for our emails and follow @uAspire on social).

4. The parent included on the FAFSA could change.

For dependent students with separated parents, the parent providing the most financial support must be included on the new FAFSA. For many students, this will align with the previous requirement of including the custodial parent – the parent living with the student. Use FSA’s resources to help students determine who their contributors are on the FAFSA. 

5. There are significant terminology changes.

Someone required to report their information on the FAFSA, typically the student and their parent(s), is called a “contributor.” The IRS DRT is being retired and replaced by direct data exchange (DDX). The Student Aid Report is now called the FAFSA Submission Summary. See the new terminology

6. Consenting to direct data exchange (DDX) is required.

Through the DDX process the IRS shares federal tax information (FTI) with the Department of Education and the colleges listed on the FAFSA to calculate a Student Aid Index (SAI). Every contributor on the FAFSA is required to consent to DDX, even if they didn't file taxes, for the student to be eligible for federal financial aid.

7. Student Aid Index (SAI) replaced EFC.

After submitting the FAFSA, students will receive a Student Aid Index (SAI) instead of an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). College financial aid offices, state agencies, and the federal government will use the SAI to determine eligibility for financial aid. A student with an SAI between 0 and -1,500 will be eligible for a full federal Pell Grant. Due to formula changes, the switch to SAI is expected to increase the number of students eligible for the Pell Grant. Learn more about SAI.

8. Financial aid eligibility could decrease.

With the change to SAI, some students may see a decrease in financial aid eligibility. The SAI formula does not account for siblings in college and requires the net worth of all businesses and farms to be reported as assets. Students with either of these scenarios should speak with their financial aid office to prepare for any reductions to their financial aid.

9. FAFSA processing is delayed until the end of January.

Due to the number of changes to the FAFSA, the processing of submitted forms is delayed. FAFSAs will be fully processed and sent to colleges and state agencies in early March. Students who submitted a FAFSA in January or February will get an email notification and will be able to access their FAFSA Submission Summary when their FAFSA has been processed.

10. Support and training are available.

Organizations nationwide offer training, updated resources, and best practices. Start here: FSA Knowledge CenterNCAN’s Better FAFSA page, and uAspire’s webinars. You can use and share out uAspire's resources, including virtual FAFSA events for students and families.