FAFSA IS CHANGING
For those of you who will be filing the FAFSA® next year, I wanted to share some of the items that will be changing on the 2024-2025 FAFSA®.
In 2020, Congress approved the FAFSA Simplification Act as part of the Consolidation Appropriations Act of 2021. This Act represents a significant overhaul of federal student aid including the FAFSA® and how federal grant funds will be calculated.
These changes are being made with the intent of making it easier for students and families to complete the FAFSA.
When you will file
- The 2024-2025 aid application will not be available for students to complete on October 1st as it has been in years past. The exact date has not been released by the Department of Education, but we are told that the availability of filing the FAFSA® will be in December.
Language and terminology
- The EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) will now be referred as the Student Aid Index (SAI).
How you enter parent information
- FSA ID changes:
- For parents who are unmarried living together, each must have their own FSA ID
- Parents without a Social Security Number will soon be able to apply for an FSA ID
- For students whose parents are divorced or separated, the parent who provides you with the most financial support will be the parent on your FAFSA (no longer will it be the parent with whom you lived the most over the past 12 months). If financial support is split 50/50 between both parents, the parent who has the higher income is required to provide their financial information on the FAFSA. Additionally, if the parent who provides the most support has remarried, stepparent information will also need to be included on the FAFSA.
Who is my parent according to the FAFSA® form?
If you need to report parent information, here are some guidelines to help you:
- If your legal parents (your biological and/or adoptive parents, or parents as determined by the state [e.g., a parent listed on your birth certificate]) are married to each other, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.
- If your legal parents are not married to each other and live together, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.
- If your legal parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent.
What if my parents are divorced or separated?
In this case, how you fill out the FAFSA form depends on whether your parents live together or not.
Keep the following in mind as you read this section:
- For FAFSA purposes, your married parents are separated if they are considered legally separated by a state, or if they are legally married but have chosen to live separate lives, including living in separate households, as though they were not married.
- When two married persons live as a married couple but are separated by physical distance (or have separate households), they are considered married for FAFSA purposes.
Divorced or Separated Parents Who Do Not Live Together
If your parents are divorced or separated and don’t live together, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived with more during the past 12 months.
If you lived the same amount of time with each divorced or separated parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent 12 months that you actually received support from a parent.
Divorced or Separated Parents Who Live Together
If your divorced parents live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Unmarried and both legal parents living together," and you will answer questions about both of them on the FAFSA form.
If your separated parents live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Married or remarried" (NOT “Divorced or separated"), and you will answer questions about both of them on the FAFSA form.
What if I have a stepparent?
If you have a stepparent who is married to the legal parent whose information you’re reporting, you must provide information about that stepparent as well.
EXCEPTION: The FAFSA form asks about your parents’ education level. For these two questions, your parents are considered to be your birth parents or adoptive parents—your stepparent is not your parent for these questions.
Including your stepparent’s information on the FAFSA form helps create an accurate picture of your family’s total financial strength.
What if my stepparent is widowed?
If your stepparent was married to your parent but is now widowed, that stepparent doesn’t count as a parent on your FAFSA form unless your stepparent has legally adopted you.
What if my parents are in a same-sex marriage?
Same-sex couples must report their marital status as married if they were legally married in a state or other jurisdiction (foreign country), without regard to where they live or where the student will be going to school.
The FAFSA questions use gender-neutral terminology for married parents (“Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)" and “Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)" instead of “mother" and “father"). It does not matter which parent completes which set of questions.
What if I live with someone other than my parents?
It doesn’t matter if you don’t live with your parent or parents; you still must report information about them. The following people are not your parents unless they have legally adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, uncles or aunts, and widowed stepparents.
How many and what questions you need to answer
- The number of questions on the FAFSA has reduced to less than 50.
- Students can list up to 20 schools on their FAFSA via the online application.
- Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents will now need to provide their consent in the new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information section of the FAFSA for federal student aid eligibility. This consent allows the IRS to share federal taxpayer information (FTI) to your FAFSA.
- The Student Aid Index (SAI) will no longer consider the number of students in the household who are in college.
- Families who own businesses/small family farms will now have assets included into the Student Aid Index calculation.
What's Changed for the 2024-25 FAFSA form? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOgIb7StyPU
Who is a Contributor on the 2024-25 FAFSA form? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROtS0SnscMI
Federal Student Aid Estimator
If you are interested in looking at an estimate of the federal financial aid you might be eligible for, you can complete the 2024-2025 Federal Student Aid Estimator (https://studentaid.gov/aid-estimator).
Remember that this is just an estimator. To know the exact federal eligibility for next year, you will need to file the 2024-2025 FAFSA application.
Creating an FSA ID if I don't have a social security number? The following link will hopefully assist with creating an FSA ID for individuals who do not have a social security number: https://www.nasfaa.org/uploads/documents/FSA_ID_without_SSN.pdf
Additional FAFSA Simplification Act information can be found on the Federal Student Aid website (https://studentaid.gov/help-center/answers/article/fafsa-simplification-act).