Changes to the FAFSA

Federal Student Aid (FSA) is changing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which could significantly affect students who complete the FAFSA for the 2024-2025 academic year. The changes will impact current and future college students.

FAFSA Availability

The FAFSA opened in late December 2023. The FAFSA typically opens annually on October 1. Since the FAFSA is required for some grant and scholarship programs, keeping track of deadlines established by colleges and other grant and scholarship providers will be important.


Both the student and the student’s parents or spouse (if the student is married) must create a Account or FSA ID.

  • If parents file as married filing jointly – only one parent FSA ID is required.
  • If parents are unmarried but live together or are married and filing taxes separately, both parents must have an FSA ID.
  • If a student is now married, their spouse must also have an FSA ID and will use it to link their taxes to the student’s FAFSA if the student and spouse filed separately during the tax filing year the FAFSA is asking about.
  • The Social Security Administration must verify the FSA IDs before a FAFSA can be started (allow 3 days for processing)
  • FSA IDs will use two-factor authentication.

Login and Demographic Information

  • The student must provide the legal name, Social Security number (SSN), birthdate, and email of the parent(s) or spouse (if married) who will contribute to the FAFSA (if no SSN, a mailing address will be required). The parent(s)/spouse will then receive an email to add their information to the existing form.
  • Parents or spouse and students must log in separately to complete their respective sections.
  • Students and parents/spouse must give consent to retrieve and disclose federal tax information. This includes non-tax filers, those without Social Security numbers, and foreign tax filers. Without consent from ALL contributors, federal aid may not be available to the student.
  • Demographic survey questions will include expanded ethnicity and race options.

Parent/Contributor Involvement

The parent who completes the FAFSA is changing for divorced or separated parents. Previously, the parent a student lived with the most in the last calendar year was included in the FAFSA. Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the parent who provided the most financial support must complete the application.

Financial Information

  • If the biological parents are separated or divorced, the FAFSA will require financial information from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student (previously the parent the student lived with most in the last 12 months).
  • Parent(s) will now report these items as an asset:
    • Child support received
    • Net worth of a business*
    • Net worth of a family farm*
  • Parent(s) will no longer report child support paid.
  • The FAFSA will no longer require these untaxed items:
    • Payments to tax-deferred retirement or pensions
    • Veterans non-educational benefit
    • Workers’ compensation

*The net worth of a family farm or a small business with fewer than 100 employees was previously not required. Moving forward, the net worth of each will be part of the FAFSA calculation.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The EFC will become the Student Aid Index or SAI.

  • SAI better reflects the FAFSA results, not what a family is expected to pay.
  • The number in college will no longer factor into the SAI calculation.
  • The SAI or federal poverty tables will determine Pell Grant eligibility.

FSA will no longer divide the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), soon to be called the Student Aid Index (SAI), by the number of students a family has in college.

Example: If your EFC was $10,000 last year, the amount was divided by the number of students enrolled in college – meaning if you have two children attending college, your EFC was $5,000 per student. In the future, your SAI will be $10,000 per student.

Please note: There are still updates and changes being made by Federal Student Aid. The upcoming changes to FAFSA aim to make the financial aid process easier and more transparent. Some changes will lead to larger financial aid offers for some and a reduction for others.

Read more about the FAFSA Simplification Act.