Everyone’s been talking about the sweeping changes that are coming to the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the application that high school seniors and college students submit each year to investigate their eligibility for financial aid for college. While this application is for federal student aid, in Oklahoma we also use it to determine eligibility for state aid, which includes certain grants and the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship. Not only will the FAFSA be changing, but the formulas and processes used to determine how much aid a student can receive will be different as well. The Student Aid Index (SAI) is a huge part of the changes that are being made.
So, what is the SAI? When you submit your FAFSA for the 2024-25 school year, the data you enter will be sent to a processing system at Federal Student Aid (operated by the U.S. Department of Education), and the end result will be a number that can range from -1,500 to 999,999. This number, the SAI, will be used to help financial aid offices at your institutions determine how much aid they can offer to help you pay for college. There are a lot of factors that go into the SAI formula, but one of the primary factors is your family income. To simplify this a bit: the higher the income, the higher the SAI.
A lower SAI can increase your eligibility for need-based aid, such as grants, work-study and subsidized student loans. If your SAI is in the -1,500 to zero (0) range, you will automatically qualify for the maximum Pell grant award, which is scheduled to be $7,395 for 2024-25. Keep in mind that as you renew your FAFSA each year you’re in college, the SAI will likely change, and the amount of need-based aid you may be eligible to receive can increase or decrease.
You’ll also be reporting your 2022 income on the 2024-25 FAFSA. If your income was higher in 2022 than what you’re receiving now, be sure to talk to someone in the financial aid office after your FAFSA has been processed. It’s possible they can adjust your income to reflect your current financial situation rather than base it on numbers from two years ago, which could result in a lower SAI. Only a financial aid officer can make this adjustment.
The 2024-25 FAFSA will be available by December 31, 2023. If this will be your first FAFSA, be sure to create an account at StudentAid.gov several days in advance. You’ll create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) that will serve as your electronic signature on your FAFSA. Create your account today at https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch.