FAFSA Simplification Act

FAFSA® Simplification Act

The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed into law on December 27, 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The Act represents a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to offer federal student aid starting with the 2024-25 academic year. This includes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), needs analysis (means of determining aid eligibility), and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in federal student aid programs. The law will affect every school that offers assistance from the federal student aid programs. Additionally, the law has the potential to affect eligibility for state financial aid programs that use FAFSA® data to determine whether certain criteria are met. 

Due to these significant changes, the 2024-2025 FAFSA® will be available by December 31, 2023. The Department of Education will begin sending processed FAFSA® results to us in late March. However, due to issues such as Federal Student Aid correcting multiple errors in the FAFSA formula and the subsequent reprocessing of affected submissions, in conjunction with their delayed rollout of necessary technology, financial aid offers will not be available until sometime in April.

This is only temporary for 2024. After the 2024-2025 aid year, the FAFSA® will be available in October as usual.

We have highlighted some of the most significant changes related to the student experience below. You may also review the Department of Education's FAFSA® Updates page and their 2024–25 FAFSA® Issue Alerts page for the most up to date information on the process and issues that are occuring. If you are experiencing issues completing or submitting your FAFSA, please review the referenced Issue Alerts page.


2024-2025 FAFSA® Changes

The benefits of the FAFSA® Simplification Act include:

  • Streamlined application process
  • Better user experience for the FAFSA®
  • Expanded eligibility for federal student aid
  • Reduced barriers for certain student population (e.g., homeless and unaccompanied youth, incarcerated students, English language learners, and students from low-income backgrounds)

Terminology updates that all students and parents should be familiar with:

  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be Student Aid Index (SAI)
  • Student Aid Report (SAR) will be FAFSA® Submission Summary (FSS)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will be IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX)
  • Anyone who is required to provide information on the FAFSA® is referred to as a Contributor (see below).
  • An FSA ID is also now referred to as a account.

A contributor is anyone who is required to provide consent for Federal Tax Information (FTI) and a signature on the FAFSA®. For dependent students, this includes the student and the student’s parent(s) (biological, adopted and/or step-parent if applicable). For independent students, this includes the student and the student’s spouse if applicable. If an independent student is married and filed separately, both individuals are contributors and must have FSA IDs.

A student's answers on the FAFSA® form will determine which contributors will be required to provide information. Students will invite a contributor to complete their portion of the FAFSA® form by entering the contributor's name, date of birth, SSN, and email address.

Contributors are required to give consent to have their federal tax information (FTI) transferred from the IRS. Consent authorizes direct access and disclosure of IRS data and allows for disclosure of that information to state entities, institutions and scholarship organizations. If any contributor refuses to give consent, the student will be ineligible for federal, state, and institutional need-based financial aid.

If a dependent student's parents are unmarried and living together, both parents will be contributors, will need to have separate Federal Student Aid (FSA) IDs, and need to provide consent. Dependent students whose parents filed their U.S. income tax return as Married Filing Jointly only require one parent contributor to complete the FAFSA®. If the student's parents filed separately, both parents will be considered contributors and therefore need separate FSA IDs. 

Note: If a contributor doesn't have an SSN, they can still be invited to complete their portion of the FAFSA® form. To invite a contributor who doesn't have an SSN, the student will indicate that the contributor doesn't have an SSN and will instead provide the contributor's mailing address.

To complete the contributor's portion of the FAFSA® form, the contributor will

  1. Receive an email informing them that they've been identified as a contributor;
  2. Create a account (FSA ID) if they don't already have one;
  3. Review information about completing their section of the FAFSA® form; and
  4. Provide the required personal and financial information and consent and approval on the student's FAFSA® form.
  • Parents who live together
    Parental income and assets in the case of student whose parents are married and not separated, or who are unmarried but live together, shall include the income and assets of both parents.
  • Divorced or separated parents
    Effective with the 2024-25 award year, there are changes to who is the parent of record (primary parent) on the FAFSA®. Parental income and assets for a student whose parents are divorced or separated, but not remarried, is determined by including only the income and assets of the parent who provides the greater portion of the student's financial support during the 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA® even if the student does not live with that parent or lives with the other parent. You will notice that the parent with whom the student lived the most in the past 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA® is no longer a criterion for divorced or separated parents.
    • If neither parent provided support in the 12-month period immediately prior to filing the FAFSA®, the parent of record is the parent who provided the greater portion of support during the most recent year that the student received financial support from a parent.
    • If both parents claim an equal amount of support, then the parent of record is the parent with the greater amount of income or assets.  
  • Remarried parents
    If a parent who is divorced or widowed and would be included on the FAFSA® has remarried, the income of the parent's spouse must be included if the student's parent and the stepparent are married as of the date the FAFSA® is completed.

The new FAFSA® application will have a “Who is my parent?” wizard tool to assist students in determining which parent should be included as a contributor. 

Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, and they will experience a change in how eligibility for the federal student aid programs is determined. The new needs analysis formula removes the number of family members in college from the calculation, allows a minimum Student Aid Index (SAI) of negative $1,500, and implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants. 

Federal Student Aid has released a Federal Student Aid Estimator to help students find out how much federal student aid they may be eligible for using an estimate of the SAI.

Notable changes to the federal SAI methodology include the following: 

  • The number of children in college is not considered in the SAI calculation. Undergraduate students with siblings in college may see a change in their aid eligibility.
  • The formula reduces the number of data items and allowances against income, with untaxed income data items being removed from the FAFSA®.
  • Annual child support received will now be an asset and reported based on the last complete calendar year. Which year is used will be based on when the FAFSA® is completed. For example, if the FAFSA® is completed in December 2023 when it opens, child support received would be reported from 2022 totals. But, if the FAFSA® was completed in 2024, the child support received would be reported from 2023 totals.
  • Business net worth will now be reported regardless of the size of the business.
  • Family Farm net worth will now be reported, except for the part of the farm that is the family’s primary residence, which should be deducted from the total net worth. More guidance will be given by the Department of Education on this calculation with the 2024-2025 FAFSA® directions.
  • The applicant’s family size will be based on the tax data used for the FAFSA® application and downloaded directly from the IRS. The Contributor will have the ability to update the family size if the number has changed since the tax year of the federal tax information (FTI) being downloaded. Note: The tax information downloaded for each contributor will be based on the prior-prior tax year, which is consistent with the current practice. For 2024-2025, it would be two years back from the base year of 2024, which would be the 2022 tax year.

All Contributors must have a account (FSA ID) to log in and complete their portion of the FAFSA® application.

  • Create a account (FSA ID) for yourself and encourage any contributors, such as your parent(s) or spouse, to create theirs. There will be a tool for students to use through the process to determine which parent(s) should be invited as a contributor. Please note: If you or your contributor already has an FSA ID, you will use your existing FSA ID.
    • This account and password gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online system and serves as your electronic signature.
    • By creating a account, you can fill out the FAFSA® when it’s available, sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN), apply for repayment plans, complete loan counseling, and use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Help Tool.
  • Watch this video on: "What's Changed for the 2024-2025 FAFSA® form?" 
  • The general types of aid available to students and the federal student loan limits.
  • The FAFSA® will still be required for consideration of federal financial aid every year as well as for certain state and institutional aid programs.Though the release of the FAFSA® is delayed for 2024-25, the Department of Education will continue to make it available on October 1 starting again with the 2025-26 FAFSA®
  • The FAFSA® will still request tax information from the prior-prior year, which means students will report 2022 income and assets on the 2024-25 application. Families with significant reductions in income levels can submit a Special Circumstance Form
  • The questions regarding a student's gender, race, and ethnicity will continue to have no effect on federal student aid eligibility and are included for statistical purposes and data collection only. This information is collected by the Department of Education and is not shared with the University of Dallas.

FAFSA® Timeline

March 2024

Federal Student Aid will complete eligibility determination and begin transmitting Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) and FAFSA® Submission Summaries to states, institutions, and applicants.

FAFSA® Priority Deadline - April 15, 2024

Not all types of aid will be available to students who submit their FAFSA® after the priority deadline. In order to be considered for the maximum amount of aid, complete your FAFSA® by April 15.  This is also the Texas state priority deadline.

April 2024

Federal Student Aid will begin processing PDF (paper) FAFSA® forms and producing output documents including Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) and FAFSA® Submission Summaries.