FAFSA Simplification Act

FAFSA Simplification Act (FAFSA changes for 2024-25)

On December 27, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The law includes provisions that amend the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act and includes the FAFSA Simplification Act — a sweeping redesign of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid. Specifically, the law makes it easier for students and families to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and expands access to federal student aid.

The 2024-2025 FAFSA® is expected to become available in December 2023. The exact date has not yet been released by the Department of Education. As additional updates and resources become available, the Financial Aid Office will continue to communicate them.

For the latest information directly from the federal government, visit fafsa.gov.

What can you expect?

The new FAFSA® will offer a more streamlined application process making it less daunting for students and their families. It will feature fewer questions, fewer requirements, and retrieve tax information using a direct data exchange from the IRS instead of the previous IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Learn More

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Simplification

FAFSA® Simplification refers to a variety of changes to both the process of completing the FAFSA® and the determination of student federal financial aid eligibility, beginning in the 2024-2025 academic year.

Contributor

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 to provide the required information on the student’s FAFSA®.

Being a contributor does not mean they are 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.

Please note: The parent responsible for submitting the FAFSA® in cases of divorce or separation has changed. 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.

Federal Student Aid - Who is a contributor? (link)

Direct Data Exchange (DDX)

Previously, users had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). On the 2024-25 FAFSA®, all contributors 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.

Please note: If any contributor to the FAFSA® form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed; however, a SAI will not be calculated.

Federal Student Aid - What Does It Mean To Provide Consent and Approval on the 2024-25 FAFSA® Form? (link)

Student Aid Index (SAI)

The term “EFC” (Expected Family Contribution) is changing. With the 2024-2025 FAFSA®, the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be replaced with the Student Aid Index (SAI) – this is a new need analysis formula that we will use when awarding need-based grants and scholarships.

In 2024-2025 students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college and experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid.

Please note: Previously, the FAFSA® calculated the number of household members attending college into the EFC, dividing it proportionately 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 calculated into the SAI.

Some students will automatically be awarded a Pell Grant.

Families making less than 175% 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 level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.

What else is changing?

  1. Previously, the FAFSA® only allowed students to list up to 10 colleges and universities. Students can now list up to 20 colleges.
  2. 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.
  3. Family farms and small businesses must be reported as assets: 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.
  4. There will be a new optional demographic question on the FAFSA®. Applicants will be asked to report their sex, race, and ethnicity on the FAFSA® itself, but students will be offered a choice of "Prefer Not to Answer". Schools and states won't see responses to these questions on the FAFSA®.

What You Can Do to Prepare

  1. Create an FSA ID on the Federal Student Aid website and assist contributors, such as your parent(s) or spouse, in creating an FSA ID. An FSA ID is an account and password that gives you access to the Federal Student Aid’s online system and serves as your electronic signature. It’s important to note that each contributor can complete only their part of the FAFSA® (student or parent). The second contributor will receive an email to login and complete their part once the first contributor is finished and invites them.
  2. Stay informed about upcoming changes by checking back often for updates.

Key Takeaways

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2024-25 FAFSA will be available December 2023

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More students will receive Federal Pell Grant

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Federal Student Aid Estimator is now available

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SAI is replacing the EFC on the FAFSA

 
Disclaimer

2024-25 FAFSA® changes are being implemented by the U.S. Department of Education. Information on this webpage is subject to change as new information becomes available.

 

FAQs

1. When will the 2024-25 FAFSA become available?
A. The 2024-25 FAFSA will be available by December 31, 2023, at fafsa.gov. We don’t know the exact date it will become available, but our best guess is late December. Please keep checking fafsa.gov for the most current information about the availability of the 2024-25 FAFSA application.
2. What can I do now to prepare for the 2024-25 FAFSA?

A. Anyone that is a contributor (see the definition below) on your FAFSA must have a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. This is true even if the contributor previously could not obtain an FSA ID due to not having a social security number. Starting in December, the FSA ID process has been improved, so now everyone, regardless of having a social security number, can apply for an FSA ID. You will also need an FSA ID if you do not already have one.

Note: It takes 3-5 business days for the FSA ID to be activated by the Department of Education and for you/your contributor to begin using it to complete the FAFSA application. If you or your contributor(s) do not have an FSA ID, please complete this step as soon as possible at https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch.

3. Who is considered a dependent student?
A. If you are under 24 years old, are not married, do not have any children or dependents (you provide over 50% of the support for), and do not meet the qualifications for unusual circumstances on the FAFSA, you are considered a dependent.
4. What is a contributor on the FAFSA?

A. Parents/stepparents/spouses/partners are now called contributors.

Dependent Student:

  • If your parents are married and filed 2022 federal taxes jointly, then only one parent needs to be invited to complete the FAFSA as a contributor.
  • If your parents are married and did not file 2022 federal taxes jointly, then both of your parents will have to be added to your FAFSA application as contributors.
  • If your biological parents are unmarried and living together, then both parents must complete their sections and serve as contributors.
  • If your parents are divorced or separated and living separately, then the parent who provides more financial support must be the contributor.

Independent Student:

  • If you are married and filed 2022 federal taxes as married filing jointly, then your spouse does not need to be added to the FAFSA as a contributor.
  • If you are married and did not file 2022 federal taxes jointly or if you are not married and living with your partner, your spouse or partner will need to be added to the FAFSA as a contributor.

Note: In order to add someone as a contributor, you will need their name, date of birth, social security number (if they have a social security number), and email address.

5. If my parents are divorced, how is the Parent of Record determined?
A. For 2024-25, we no longer look at which parent the student lived with when determining the Parent of Record in cases where legal parents are neither married to each other nor unmarried but living together. The key question is: Which parent provided the most financial support in the last 12 months? The parent who provided the most support is considered to be the Parent of Record and must complete the FAFSA. If the financial support amounts are exactly the same for each legal parent, then the tiebreaker question is: Which parent has greater assets when FAFSA is being completed? The parent with the greater assets is the Parent of Record. If the Parent of Record is married at the time of FAFSA filing, the parent’s spouse is also a required FAFSA contributor.
6. What has been decided as to who is the primary parent if divorced - the parent who receives the child support or the one who pays the child support?
A. Child support payments count as financial contribution from the parent who paid the child support. It does not count towards financial contribution for the parent who received the child support.
7. How are separated parents treated in the 2024-25 FAFSA process?
A. Based on information in the draft 2024-25 FAFSA published in September 2023, if parents are separated, then they are treated as if they are not married, and the Parent of Record must be determined as discussed above. However, if the separated parents are living together, they are to report the marital status of “Married.”
8. If a dependent applicant cannot get a contributor to apply for an FSA ID or they don't have one, does this mean a FAFSA cannot be completed?

A. In general, if a required contributor does not fully complete the FAFSA process, including getting the FSA ID, the student is not eligible for Title IV funding.

However, if an otherwise dependent student is determined to be unaccompanied and homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, the student will be treated as independent.

Also, if the student has unusual circumstances, such as a situation of parental abuse or abandonment, the student will initially be treated as provisionally independent and, after working through a documentation process with the school, can be made independent through a dependency override process.

Note: Students who select that they are unaccompanied and homeless, self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, or qualify for an unusual circumstance will need to provide documentation to the Financial Aid department at MATC or meet with a Financial Aid Specialist at MATC to document their situation and determine eligibility. After completing the FAFSA, we recommend meeting with a Financial Aid Counselor at MATC to finalize your status and eligibility. You can meet with a Financial Aid Counselor by clicking the Zoom link in the Financial Aid section of our website: https://www.matc.edu/gethelp/.

A third option is for a student who does not meet the homelessness or unusual circumstances criteria and who does not want any need-based financial aid to follow the “Unsubsidized Loan Only” flow. The FAFSA will be rejected, but an FAA can determine that the student is eligible for dependent-level Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans. The draft FAFSA language for this last case is: “Are the student’s parents unwilling to provide their information, but the student doesn’t have an unusual circumstance that prevents them from contacting the parents or obtaining their information?

9. How do applicants provide income information on the FAFSA for 2024-25?
A. Each FAFSA contributor must give consent for a direct data exchange (DDX) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In certain circumstances, the tax information will automatically pull into the application. This Federal Taxpayer Information (FTI) is not visible to FAFSA contributors during the FAFSA process. In special cases, such as when a divorced student filed a joint return for the base year, the applicant will be asked to manually populate the required financial information.
10. Must all contributors give consent even if they didn't file taxes?
A. Yes, all contributors must give consent for the data exchange. If a contributor is a non-filer, but the IRS has a record of the person, the IRS can confirm that no tax return was filed for the base year.
11. What is the process for getting a FSA ID without a social security number?

A. While students must have a Social Security Number (SSN), spouses and parents of students will be asked if they have a SSN. If the answer is no, then the user continues on to complete their username, e-mail, and password fields. Users without SSNs are also required to provide mailing addresses, and all users will then set up two-step verification via text, e-mail, or an authentication application.

The user is then asked knowledge-based verification questions provided by TransUnion. If one of these is answered incorrectly, the user’s screen will indicate that while the account was created, they must contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243 to verify their identity before using the ID.

12. How will an unborn child be reported on the FAFSA?
A. Unborn children are not included in Family Size for 2024-25, nor are they reported elsewhere on the 2024-25 FAFSA.
13. Which year's child support received should be reported on the FAFSA?
A. The timing of FAFSA completion will determine which year’s total is used. If the FAFSA is completed in 2024, report child support received in 2023. If the FAFSA is completed in 2025, then use the 2024 calendar year amount.
Note: Child support received is now treated as an asset rather than income.
14. What is a provisionally independent student?

A. A provisionally independent student has unusual circumstances that may support a dependency override. Either they cannot contact their parents or doing so would pose a risk to the student. Once the student indicates this is the case, they complete the rest of the FAFSA as an independent student and receive a provisional Student Aid Index (SAI). MATC will then inform the student about the estimated awards they would receive as an independent student based on that provisional SAI and will follow up promptly with the student about the process to submit an Appeal for Dependency Override. If the appeal is denied, the student must return to FAFSA and add parent contributor(s) to receive aid as a dependent student.

Students who left home due to an abusive or threatening environment may be considered provisionally independent. Examples of this include students who are:

  • Abandoned or estranged from their parents (and are not adopted by someone else).
  • In refugee or asylee status and are separated from their parents.
15. When can I expect my financial aid package for the 2024-25 award year?
A. At MATC, the 2024-25 award year begins with the Fall 2024 semester. Due to delays in receiving FAFSA applications and software updates that need to be made to begin processing student aid packages, our best guess of when we will be able to begin awarding students for the 2024-25 award year is May 15, 2024.
16. It's December 31 or later, and I can't access the FAFSA website. What should I do?

A. There will likely be a lot of traffic on the fafsa.gov website once the 2024-25 FAFSA form becomes available. It is likely that the website could crash or experience technical issues in late December or early January. Please try different browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

If you cannot access the website or the website is not working correctly on any platform, please wait for a few hours and try again. If it still isn’t working, keep trying on and off for a few days. If you are still experiencing issues accessing the 2024-25 FAFSA, please call 1-800-433-3243 or visit https://studentaid.gov/help-center/contact for other ways to contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center to receive FAFSA help and information.

Note: If the website is experiencing technical issues, MATC is not able to fix these issues for students. It’s best to try again a little later and contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center for real-time information and updates.

17. Does a Spouse Need To Access the FAFSA If They Are Not a Contributor?

It depends. NASFAA has confirmed with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that there are
two required questions for a spouse even if they are not a required contributor. These are
questions regarding their identity and contact information. How these questions are completed
depends on the type of FAFSA being filed: paper or online.

Paper FAFSA (FAFSA PDF):

For a dependent student, if their parents are married and filed a joint tax return, one parent must
complete the parent section of the FAFSA, including their consent, approval, and signature. The
parent's spouse must only complete the identity and contact information questions (questions 42
and 43). They skip the remaining questions, including the consent, approval, and
signature. Similarly, if an independent student is married, their spouse must complete the identity
and contact information questions (questions 25 and 26) but they skip the remaining questions if
they filed taxes jointly with the student.

Online FAFSA:

The online FAFSA is a bit different. In the case of a dependent student, the student either:

  • Provides both parents' identity and contact information, though they are only required to
    invite one as a contributor; or
  • Provides only one parent's identity and contact information.

In the second scenario, when the contributing parent completes their section, they will be
prompted to provide their spouse's identity and contact information. If they filed a joint tax
return, the spouse will not be invited to contribute to the FAFSA. Similarly, a married
independent student will provide their spouse's identity and contact information on the online
FAFSA, but the spouse will not be invited as a contributor if they filed a joint tax return with the
student.

Note: Even though the user is asked to provide their spouse's email address, the spouse will not
receive an email invitation to contribute to the student's FAFSA if they are not a required
contributor.

18. How to complete the FAFSA if my Parent is a noncitizen?
New Terminology

Contributor

A contributor refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s form, and provide consent and approval for federal tax information (FTI) along with their signature on the FAFSA ® form, including the student; the student’s spouse; a biological or adoptive parent; or the parent’s spouse (stepparent).

Being a contributor does not imply responsibility for the student’s college costs.

Student Aid Index (SAI)

A calculation based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that allows us to determine how much need-based financial aid you are eligible for. It provides schools with a picture of your family’s financial strength. Replaced what used to be known as Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Direct Data Exchange (DDX)

System used to transfer individuals tax information to determine federal aid eligibility (replaces what used to be the IRS data retrieval tool known as DRT).

FAFSA Submission Summary

Output document providing a summary of data input on the FAFSA form received after completing the FAFSA application (replaces what used to be known as the student aid report or SAR).