The U.S. Department of Education is bringing major changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), beginning with the 2024-25 release. If you’re going to be renewing your FAFSA, you’ll notice a big difference, but for first-time filers, it should be a smooth, more automated process, with fewer questions to answer.
Why the changes?
On Dec. 27, 2020, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act. As a result, a major redesign of processes and systems used to award federal financial aid is in progress.
1. Don’t wait to create your Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID)! Students and parents who will be contributing information on the FAFSA will need an FSA ID, which will serve as your electronic signature on the form.
· In order to create this unique signature, you’ll need an email address. Please don’t use the email address given to you by your high school or college. If you don’t have one — it can’t be the same one your parent uses — be sure to establish one before you create your FSA ID.
· Once an FSA ID has been created, there will be a matching process to ensure the data matches the records found at other agencies (Social Security Administration, etc.). This process ordinarily takes two to three days to complete, so our suggestion is that you — and your parent(s), if necessary — create your FSA ID at least a week before you begin your FAFSA. Students and parents can create their FSA IDs at StudentAid.gov/Create Account.
2. On the 2024-25 FAFSA, dependent students will have to supply the name, Social Security number and email address of one or both parents. You should enter that information exactly as your parent(s) did when they created their FSA ID(s). They will also need to enter your information exactly as you did.
3. One objective of the FAFSA Simplification Act is to shorten the number of questions that would require you to enter information from your tax return. To accomplish this, FAFSA filers will be required to give consent for the information from their 2022 tax return to be transferred directly to their FAFSA. Even those who didn’t have to file a tax return due to lower income will be required to give their consent. If there’s not a tax return at the IRS, they’ll send confirmation of a non-filing status to Federal Student Aid. If any contributor on the form doesn’t give their consent for the transfer, the FAFSA won’t be processed, and the student won’t be eligible for federal student aid.
4. Your financial aid office may still be able to change your dependency status or waive your requirement to supply parental information under special or unusual circumstances. If you’re a dependent student and you’re not able to supply information about your parents, complete your FAFSA without their information, and then discuss your situation with the financial aid office at one of your schools of interest. It’s possible they could waive the requirement for parental information. If they’re not able to make adjustments, you may still be eligible for federal student aid, but you’d only be eligible to receive an unsubsidized student loan—no other loans, grants or work study funds.
5. Each person supplying information (called a “contributor”) on the FAFSA will log in with their own FSA ID at StudentAid.gov to complete their portion. Each contributor will only be able to see the questions that pertain to them. Your parents won’t see the information you supplied, and you won’t see theirs.
6. A parent without a Social Security number will be able to create an FSA ID. This process hasn’t been finalized yet; we’ll keep you posted.
7. The 2024-25 FAFSA won’t be available until some time in December 2023. Going forward, it will once again be available on October 1 each year.