Navigating the 2024-25 FAFSA changes
Remind me, what is the FAFSA?
FAFSA = free money.
Anyone considering postsecondary education must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive federal or state financial aid. Financial aid can come in the form of free money like grants and scholarships, and can also include loans.
How much financial aid you receive varies from person to person, year to year. Whether you’re interested in attending a trade school, a four-year university, community college or another type of educational institution, filling out the FAFSA is the first step towards financial support.
Why are there changes for the 2024-25 school year?
In 2021, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act to make the FAFSA easier to complete and to help more Americans access federal financial aid. This has led to several changes to the FAFSA for the 2024 to 2025 school year.
What is a FAFSA “contributor” and what information is needed from them?
“Contributor” is a new term that you will see on the 2024–25 FAFSA form. A contributor is a person who is required to provide information on a student’s FAFSA, which may include a student, a student’s spouse, biological or adoptive parents, or step parents. Who counts as a contributor can be different for each student and depends on factors like your financial support and marital status. Not all contributors are financially responsible for a student’s education.
In the case of divorced parents, the parent who provides more financial support must fill out the FAFSA. In the past, this responsibility fell on the parent who the student lived with for the most amount of time.
Contributors must consent to having their federal tax (or non-filer) information transferred into students’ FAFSA form via the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This reduces the number of questions on the FAFSA and makes the 2024-25 FAFSA much shorter than prior years, as the information will be automatically filled in. If contributors do not consent, the form may still be submitted but the Student Aid Index will not be calculated and the student will not receive federal financial aid.
All contributors must have a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. The FSA ID is your account username and password.
Contributors without a social security number are still able to set up an FSA ID and enter information. Update January 31, 2024: The Department of Education is aware of an issue with the FAFSA when a contributor without a social security number attempts to complete the form that does not allow the form to be completed. There is not currently an estimated timeframe for resolving this problem.
When should I set up my FSA ID?
You can set up your account now so that you are ready to go when the application opens by December 31, 2023. It can take up to a week for a new account to process, so getting a head start is recommended. This way you and your contributors will be able to complete the FAFSA anytime after it opens.
What is the Student Aid Index (SAI)?
If you have filed the FAFSA before, you may remember seeing an Expected Family Contribution amount. The Expected Family Contribution is now called Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI is a number that qualifies you for different types of financial aid. The SAI is based on the information that you and your family provide, such as income, demographics, number of family members, and more.
The formula for the SAI number has changed. One difference is that the formula no longer takes into account the amount of family members currently in college. While the number of members within a family is still a factor, aid will not be based on how many students a family is paying for at the same time. The change has the potential to raise the SAI for students who have siblings enrolled in college. The new formula is, however, expected to increase the number of students who receive the Pell Grant.
How many schools can I send my FAFSA to?
Students can now list up to 20 colleges on the online FAFSA form. This means that you can receive financial aid information for that number of schools. In the past, an applicant could only list up to ten.
Financial Aid Resources
To learn more about accessing financial aid, you can…
- Check out MyFutureVT’s financial aid page
- Read VSAC’s FAFSA tips
- Make sure you’re up to date on FAFSA deadlines
- Watch informative videos on the Federal Student Aid YouTube channel
- Set up your FSA ID today
- Apply for the Vermont Grant
- Learn about the different paths that lead to cost effective education and training
Any other questions? Contact or set up an appointment with VSAC!