DACC Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships

2024-25 FAFSA Changes

Last updated: November 28, 2023

Huge transformations are on the horizon for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application for the upcoming 2024-2025 aid year.

The FAFSA Simplification Act, enacted by Congress in 2020, marks a substantial revamp of the processes and systems involved in granting federal student aid. This comprehensive update encompasses alterations to the FAFSA form, the need analysis dictating federal aid eligibility, shifts in terminology, and various policies and procedures affecting schools engaged in federal student aid programs.

2024-25 FAFSA Available December 31, 2023

Historically, the FAFSA has been available beginning October 1st each year. However, because of significant changes to the application and the rebuilding of the FAFSA processing system, the 2024-25 FAFSA will not be available until December 2023.

The FAFSA Simplification Act brings about several advantages, such as streamlining the application process and enhancing the overall user experience for FAFSA. It also extends eligibility for federal student aid and removes obstacles for specific student groups, including those who are homeless, unaccompanied youth, incarcerated students, English language learners, and individuals from low-income backgrounds.

What's Changing with the FAFSA?

Fewer Questions and More User-Friendly
The FAFSA form will reduce the maximum number of questions from 108 to 46. And since the FAFSA is dynamic, some students may not even be presented with all 46 questions. This streamlined format will simplify the application process and make it less daunting for students and their families.
Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
A drastic terminology update and change in the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the new Student Aid Index (SAI). This name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500. The SAI is an eligibility index number that a college's financial aid office will use to determine how much federal student aid the student would receive. This number results from the information that the student provides in their FAFSA.
Applicants Are Required to Use the IRS Direct Data Exchange
In the past, applicants had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, all persons 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 automatically transfer into the application. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions to be answered.
All Contributors Must Provide Financial Information
A contributor - a new term introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA form - 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 have been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don't already have one) to provide the required information on the student's FAFSA.
The Parent Responsible for Submitting the FAFSA (divorce/separation) is Changing
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.

The 2024-25 FAFSA does not look at which parent the student lived with (custodial parent) when determining the Parent of Record in cases where legal parents are neither married to each other not unmarried but living together. 

  • Key question: which parent provided the most financial support in the last 12 months?
  • If the same for both parents; which parent has greater assets?
Number in College Will Not Be Used to Calculate SAI
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. As such, undergraduate DACC students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.
Some Students will Automatically be Awarded 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.
Expanding Access to Federal Aid

The FAFSA will expand access to Pell Grants to more students overall based on family size and the federal poverty level (FPL). While the formula to determine Pell Grant eligibility stays the same (cost of attendance (COA) minus Student Aid Index (SAI) and other financial assistance equals eligibility for need-based financial aid), applicants who don't qualify for the maximum Pell Grant amount may still be able to secure this type of funding.

The U.S. Department of Education says this can be the case if a borrower's SAI is less than the maximum Pell Grant award for the award year.

Changes for Larger Families and Families with Small Businesses

Many families with several children in school at the same time will qualify for less aid overall. With the new SAI formula, middle and high-income families with multiple dependents in college will qualify for less aid for school. 

Under the previous FAFSA calculations, the value of a small business with less than 100 employees was not reportable as an asset. Moving forward, however, it will be a reportable asset. Farm owners will now have to list their land and farming equipment as family assets for the purpose of determining financial aid moving forward.

What if Parents are Unable or Unwilling to Complete the FAFSA?
You will be asked whether you’re able to provide information about your parents. If you can’t provide information about your parent, you can indicate that you have special circumstances that make you unable to get your parents’ infoThe school’s financial aid office may ask for additional information to determine whether you can be considered independent and have an EFC calculated without parent data. 
For Provisional Independency
Do unusual circumstances prevent the student from contacting their parents or would contacting their parents pose a risk to the student?

Unsub Only Question
Parents are unwilling to participate or they do not and will not contribute financially to the student
Available in More Languages
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.
Students Can List Up to 20 Colleges
Previously, the FAFSA only allowed students to list up to 10 colleges and universities.