With the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application opening on December 31st, 2023, filling out the FAFSA is at the top of many families' to-do lists. But before you sit down and fill out the application, it is important to know all of the changes occurring to the FAFSA for the 2024-25 aid year, so that you and your student know what to expect.
The upcoming FAFSA will look a little different than the FAFSAs you may have filled out in the past. This is due to FAFSA Simplification, which was passed by Congress to make changes to the FAFSA and includes the first major redesign of the FAFSA process. The goal is to make applying for federal student aid easier for students by incorporating a more streamlined application process, reducing barriers for certain student populations by increasing Pell grant eligibility, and overall making the FAFSA a better user experience by reducing the number of questions asked in the application.
One of the biggest changes is the terminology used in the application. Anyone who is inputting their information into the application, whether that be a student, parent, guardian, or a student’s spouse, will now be referred to as ‘contributors’. All contributors must create an FSA ID to electronically sign the FAFSA, even if the contributor(s) do not have a social security number. All contributors must also ‘consent’ to having their IRS tax information transferred directly to the FAFSA. If they do not consent, the application will be considered invalid and the student will not be able receive financial aid. Contributors will consent using their FSA ID.
Another big terminology change is the switch from Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI is the amount of financial assistance families can provide the student, which is calculated through the information provided on the FAFSA. The SAI is used by colleges and universities to determine a student's financial aid offer. This number can be found in the FAFSA Submission Summary sent to the student after they have completed their application, and can also be found in your student’s UC Davis MyAwards. Before, the EFC could go as low as $0 (zero), but with the new application the SAI can be as low as -$1,500, allowing increased Pell eligibility.
We have highlighted just a few of these changes, and we find it important for families to stay informed and learn about all of the important changes we could not cover, as well as keep an eye on any new announcements. We recommend visiting FAFSA Simplification, our dedicated webpage which offers more details through presentations and fliers, including a document checklist (all offered in both English and Spanish!). Remember to create your FSA ID at least five days prior to starting the application, and complete the FAFSA before the March 2nd priority deadline to allow students to have full aid consideration.