There are major changes to the upcoming 2024-25 FAFSA

The 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines your financial aid eligibility for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

After the passing of the FAFSA Simplification Act in 2020, the FAFSA has gotten a complete overhaul and you can expect some major changes:

  • A new timeline for the FAFSA and your aid
  • A streamlined FAFSA with IRS DATA Exchange
  • New terminology
  • New rules and eligibility
  • Expanded federal financial aid eligibility 

Pro Tips for the 2024-25 FAFSA Form 

A New Timeline

  • The FAFSA is now available! We recommend getting a start on it as soon as possible as there have been site issues.
  • Note that the Department of Education announced that FAFSA submissions will not be provided to students' selected colleges until mid March. The delay in the FAFSA timeline may cause it to be later in spring before Saint Mary’s College can start sending out Financial Aid Notifications.

A Faster, Simpler FAFSA

  • A goal of the FAFSA Simplification is to make the process smoother and faster for families by asking less questions and using Data Exchange with the IRS.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool that some families used in the past is being replaced by a direct data exchange with the IRS which will allow the FAFSA to pull your tax information for you.

New Terminology

  • The phrase Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is being replaced with Student Aid Index (SAI). The Student Aid Index is the score that is part of the new formula the FAFSA is using to determine financial aid information such as Federal PELL eligibility.
  • "Household Size" is now being replaced with “Family Size” so that it matches what is listed with tax information.
  • The term “Parent” is now being replaced with ”Contributor”. Contributor refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s FAFSA form, including the student, the student’s spouse, a biological or adopted parent, or the parent’s spouse. Being a contributor does not imply responsibility for the student's college costs.
  • Who makes up a contributor that needs to be a part of the FAFSA can depend on a variety of factors. For a good breakdown of figuring out who the contributor is, see the picture below:

New FAFSA Terminology

New Rules and Eligibility  

  • For a 2024-25 FAFSA to be processed and accepted, all contributors must give consent for their tax information and FAFSA data to be used.
  • If a contributor does not give consent, then the FAFSA CANNOT BE PROCESSED.
  • Even if taxes were not filed in 2022, consent is still required.
  • The number of family members in college will no longer be taken into consideration with the FAFSA formula. This means that for families who previously listed more than one person as a student in college, they may potentially see an impact on their federal aid.
  • While some factors such as number in college are going away, overall the FAFSA simplification will be increasing the eligibility of students who will qualify for more federal aid.

Expanded Federal Financial Aid Eligibility 

  • The FAFSA Simplification Act will expand the Federal Pell Grant to more students and will link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level (starting with the 2024–25 award year).

How to Prepare Now

From the Federal Student Aid website, here are some things you can do now to prepare for filling out the FAFSA: