2024–25 FAFSA Updates: What You Need to Know
Dec 18, 2023
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a familiar name among high school students, their parents or guardians, and anyone looking to finance their educational journey. But the FAFSA will look quite different for the 2024–25 award year.
In 2020, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act, streamlining the application process and eliminating barriers for students and families. The updated FAFSA takes the 100-plus-question application down to just 46 — a welcome change for anyone who has completed it in the past. But these changes go beyond an abbreviated application. Read on for everything you need to know about the coming updates.
What Is the FAFSA Simplification Act?
As the name would suggest, the FAFSA Simplification Act aims to streamline the application process, trimming this cumbersome questionnaire down to its bare essentials. In doing so, the process also becomes more transparent.
The Congressional Research Service criticized the existing process as "opaque" and lacking "predictability for students and their families." The updated FAFSA uses a new method for calculating aid, making the application process more straightforward and ensuring that need-based awards are given to those most deserving.
There are a number of benefits for students and their families, including a better user experience, expanded eligibility for federal student aid, and reduced barriers for certain student populations (e.g., English language learners, and students from low-income backgrounds).
Some changes include:
- A Shorter, More User-Friendly Application
As previously mentioned, the outgoing FAFSA is a 108-question behemoth — which not only takes a lot of time but also presents significant obstacles for some students. With the updated FAFSA, the process becomes shorter and more manageable for students juggling SAT preparations and other college readiness activities.
- Federal Tax Info Transferred From IRS
Previously, filers had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning with 2024-25, all persons 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, 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.
- Students Can Now List 20 Colleges
Before the FAFSA Simplification Act, applicants could only list ten schools when applying for aid. Now, students can list 20 colleges and universities on their aid applications.
- More Languages for More Learners
Despite American students speaking more than 400 different languages, the current FAFSA is only offered in English and Spanish. Further reducing language barriers, the 2024–25 FAFSA will be available in 11 of the most commonly used languages in the U.S.
- Updates to FAFSA Terminology
Some of the language used in the FAFSA is changing, including a shift from the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the Student Aid Index (SAI) and a new definition of who is a "contributor." Until 2023, the FAFSA utilized the EFC, and many applicants thought it referred to the amount their families would contribute. The SAI clarifies that this is an automatic estimate determined by a family's financial resources. Further, contributors now encompass all individuals who disclose federal tax information in the FAFSA, including parents, student spouses, and students themselves.
- Federal Pell Grant Eligibility is Broadened
Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who display significant financial need. One primary goal of the updated FAFSA is to expand Pell Grant eligibility, ensuring more students receive funding for their education.
When should families submit the 2024-25 FAFSA?
New students who plan to begin classes at Florida Southern College in the fall of 2024 should complete the FAFSA as soon as it becomes available. The Department of Education anticipates launching the new FAFSA on December 31. Returning students should complete the FAFSA by the March 15 priority deadline.
Arden Mitchell, Admissions Director at Florida Southern College, reassures those overwhelmed by these forthcoming changes. "The FAFSA is now easier than ever, and we will use your completed application to create a custom, comprehensive aid package to make your dream of a Florida Southern education come true."
If you're concerned about how these changes may impact your educational journey, please contact our Office of Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org.