What Is Changing?
The FAFSA will reduce the maximum number of questions from 108 to 46. And because the FAFSA on the Web is dynamic, some students won't even be presented with all 46 questions. This streamlined format will simplify the application process and make it less daunting for students and their families.
Previously, the FAFSA only allowed students to list up to 10 colleges and universities.
Currently, the FAFSA is only available in English and Spanish. The 2024-25 application will be expanded to include the 11 most common languages spoken by English learner students and their parents.
Previously, users had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning with 2024-25, all persons on the FAFSA must provide consent for the Department of Education to receive tax information or confirmation of non-filing status directly from the IRS. In a very small number of cases, students and families will have to enter their tax data manually, but for most, that data will be automatically transferred into the application. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions to be answered.
A contributor—a new term being introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA—refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student's form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student's or parent's answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.
Contributors will receive an email informing them that they've been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don't already have one) to provide the required information on the student's FAFSA.
Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student's education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA or the application will be incomplete and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.
A contributor to the new FAFSA is a person whose tax information is required on the FAFSA.
- The student is an obvious contributor.
- Next, the parent(s) will be contributors if the student is considered dependent for financial aid purposes.
- When biological or adoptive parents are not married and not living together, the FAFSA uses the parent who provided most financial support to the student in the past 12 months.
- The spouse (if any) of that parent is also a contributor.
- A married student's spouse is a contributor.
Each FAFSA contributor will need to get an FSA ID if they don't already have one. FSA IDs can take 3-5 days for setup
The FSA ID is needed to consent and agree to release IRS tax information for the FAFSA. All contributors who filed 2022 taxes separately or who did not file 2022 taxes will need their own FSA ID. Your FSA ID can be used on multiple FAFSAs if you are a contributor on more than one FAFSA and will be used annually when completing a FAFSA as well as working as an electronic signature on federal loan processes.
A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.
Previously, the FAFSA calculated the number of household members attending college into the EFC, dividing it proportionately to determine federal aid eligibility. Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the application will still ask how many household members are in college, but your answer will not be calculated into the SAI. As such, undergraduate DU students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.
DU will continue to use the number in college for undergraduate students when determining eligibility for need-based institutional financial aid.
Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will see their students receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Minimum Pell Grants will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.
For dependent students, financial information was previously needed from the parent(s) the student had lived with the most in the last 12 months. With the new FAFSA, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student.
When required, families must now report the value of their small business or family farm. If the family farm includes the principal place of residence, applicants should determine the total net value of all farm assets and subtract the net value of their principal residence to determine the final value of their farm assets.
What Is Not Changing?
While the FAFSA is receiving an update and the aid eligibility calculation has been revised, there are a number of aid-related matters that will not change.
- The FAFSA will remain required for federal aid consideration and will be used as well for institutional and state aid determination.
- The general types of aid available to students and federal student loan limits will not change.
- Dependency status questions that determine if your parents complete the FAFSA with you remain the same.
- The FAFSA will request tax information from the prior-prior year, which means you'll report 2022 income and assets on your 2024-25 application. Families with significant reductions in income levels may consider submitting a Request for Special Circumstance (Income) Review.
- Because some aid programs are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, an early FAFSA application receives priority consideration for limited funding sources.
- With the 2025-26 FAFSA, the FAFSA is again expected to be available beginning October 1 of each year.
- The FAFSA remains an annual application that continuing students will need to complete each year.
- The questions regarding an applicant's gender, race, and ethnicity will have no effect on federal student aid eligibility and are included for statistical purposes and data collection only. In fact, DU won't even receive this data from the FAFSA.
Students with unusual circumstances are defined as:
A student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of unusual circumstances which prevent the student from contacting parents. These circumstances could include—
- human trafficking, as described in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.)
- legally granted refugee or asylum status and are separate from their parents, or their parents are displaced in a foreign country
- parental abandonment or estrangement and have not been adopted
- abusive or threatening environment or
- student or parental incarceration and contact with parents would pose a risk to the student.
Other students will continue to qualify as independent on their FAFSA form and not required to provide parental information if they:
- Are active-duty military
- Are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Were an orphan, ward of the court or in foster care at the age of 13 or older
- Are or were a legally emancipated minor or in a legal guardianship as determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence or
- Are a student unaccompanied and either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless
Starting with the 2024-25 Award Year, both first-time and renewal applicants who indicate on their FAFSA form that they have an unusual circumstance will be granted provisional independent status. They will be able to complete the form without providing parental information. They will also receive an estimate of their federal student aid eligibility, which will be subject to a final determination by the institution they attend. If a student's institution approves their unusual circumstances, their independent status will carry over when they renew their FAFSA form in future award years, and they will be considered independent for as long as they remain at the same institution and their circumstances remain unchanged.
Additional information can be found at StudentAid.gov.