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FAFSA Simplification

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is undergoing significant changes which will be fully implemented with the 2024-2025 academic year. The changes from the FAFSA Simplification Act which is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, will be implemented along with changes from the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act. The overhaul simplifies the FAFSA completion process for applicants and expands Pell Grant access. There was an early implementation of some changes with the majority of the changes being implemented in the 2023-2024 aid year and will conclude with full implementation for the 2024-2025 aid year. Below are some of the changes you can expect.

What you can expect

  • A December launch of the 2024-2025 FAFSA.
  • The student aid index (SAI) replaces the expected family contribution (EFC).
  • Family size will be determined by the student/parent tax return. There will be an opportunity to update the size if it has changed.
  • The use of IRS tax data streamlines the process for calculating the SAI and Pell Grant eligibility.
  • Pell Grant eligibility will be determined using the family size and federal poverty level.
  • A dependent student whose parents are divorced or separated will report the income for the parent who provides the most financial support regardless of whom the student lives with.
  • Incarcerated students will regain Pell Grant eligibility.
  • Pell Grant eligibility will be restored to students affected by school closures while enrolled or who were misled.
  • Changes to the cost of attendance (COA) components and language.

How the changes impact our service to you

  • A student information system upgrade that is being implemented throughout the 2023 calendar year.
  • A processing start date in the first quarter of the 2024 calendar year.
  • A proactive approach for assisting students with special or unusual circumstances.
  • The calculation of aid using the SAI.

Federal Student Aid Estimator

With this tool, students can find out how much federal student aid they may be eligible for starting with the 2024–25 award year—note that this tool estimates the Student Aid Index (SAI) for 2024–25 award year, not the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for 2023–24 award year.

Access the Federal Student Aid Estimator here

Timeline of Implementation

2021-2022 Award Year
The questions remained on the FAFSA but they no longer affected aid eligibility. FAFSAs initially processed as ineligible were reprocessed.

  • Selective Service
  • A drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid
  • Pell Grant maximum of $6,495

2022-2023 Award Year

  • Selective Service no longer affected aid eligibility
  • A drug conviction while receiving federal Title IV aid no longer affected aid eligibility
  • Elimination of the subsidized usage limitation
  • Pell Grant maximum of $6,895
2023-2024 Award Year
  • FAFSA removal of the Selective Service question and the option to register for Selective Service.
  • FAFSA removal of the drug conviction question.
  • Answers to the FAFSA homeless questions eligible for renewal.
  • FAFSA addition of the sex/gender and race/ethnicity questions.
  • Cost of attendance (COA) language and the requirement to publish where tuition and fees are mentioned.
  • Professional judgment distinguishes between special (income reassessment) and unusual (dependency override), and requires that institutions publicly disclose these options, and that institutions consider such requests with the appropriate documentation.
  • Independent student status.
  • Pell Grant eligibility for students incarcerated in Federal and State penal facilities.
  • Pell Grant eligibility restored to students who had Federal student loans discharged under specific criteria, including closed school, false certification, and borrower defense to repayment loan discharge.
2024-2025 Award Year
  • Transition from the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI can be as low as -1500 whereas 0 was the lowest an EFC could be.
  • Removal of number in college.
  • Family size is determined by dependents on the tax return with the option to manually update if the size has changed after filing the tax return.
  • Use of Federal Tax Information which will streamline the FAFSA completion process for calculation of the SAI and Pell Grant.
  • The inclusion of contributors and their consent.
  • Removal of other untaxed income and money received by or paid on behalf of the student.
  • Manual entry of the foreign income exclusion.
  • Removal of child support paid, combat pay, and other items.
  • Asset contribution components now include child support received, net worth of all businesses regardless of size, net worth of a farm including a family farm.
  • For dependent students, education savings accounts count as a parental asset if it’s designated for the student. 

Comparison Between Aid Years



Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Student Aid Index (SAI)

Lowest EFC: $0

Lowest SAI: -$1,500

Cost of Attendance (COA)-EFC=Financial Need

Cost of Attendance (COA)-SAI=Financial Need



IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)


Student Aid Report

FAFSA Submission Summary



What is the FAFSA Simplification Act?

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