Skip to main content


10 Things to Know About the New FAFSA

November 15, 2023
By Brendan Williams

10 Things to Know About the New FAFSA

Big changes are coming to the 2024-2025 FAFSA that will affect how to best support students and families to complete the financial aid application. Here’s what you need to know as you plan for the coming school year:

1. The 2024-2025 FAFSA opens in December 2023.

The significant changes to the FAFSA have caused Federal Student Aid to delay its opening. The 2024-2025 FAFSA will launch by December 31st, and you should encourage students and families to be ready to complete the FAFSA in January. In future years, the FAFSA will return to its October 1 opening date.

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 are being removed, added, and rearranged. You should update the FAFSA resources you use with students. Look for updated resources 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.

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. 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. 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 will replace 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 of 0 or below (it can be as low as -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. Preparing students and families this fall is key.

With the delayed FAFSA opening, it's a great time to prepare students and families for success. Host FSA ID creation events and make your students and families aware of the information required on the FAFSA. Know your state's deadline for FAFSA submission. 

10. Support and training are available.

Organizations nationwide will offer training, updated resources, and best practices. You can start here: FSA Knowledge Center, NCAN’s Better FAFSA page, and uAspire’s webinars on FAFSA Simplification. As January approaches, more tools and resources for practitioners, students, and families will become available.