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FAFSA Changes

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is changing for the 2024-2025 aid year as a result of the FAFSA Simplification Act.

2024-2025 FAFSA Updates

The 2024-2025 FAFSA, which determines your financial aid eligibility for Fall 2024, Spring 2025 and Summer 2025, opened Dec. 31, 2023. The FAFSA is currently in a soft launch period, during which time the Department of Education is tracking known issues with the new form. The form may close periodically as updates are made.

Changes to the FAFSA form include:

  • Expanded eligibility for federal student aid.
  • A streamlined application process with fewer questions, making the FAFSA easier for students and parents to complete. 
  • New financial aid terminology.

UWF started receiving small batches of 2024-2025 FAFSAs from the Department of Education (ED) mid-March. The ED indicated they will continue to send small batches of FAFSAs to schools and will gradually increase the volume over a series of weeks. Once the ED is processing at full capacity, they have indicated it will take two weeks to process the backlog. As of today, UWF is pending systems updates and subsequent testing prior to processing FAFSA data. Tentatively, we will start processing the FAFSAs received from the ED by mid-April. We will start creating financial aid packages for incoming students by late April or into early May.

As of March 27, 2024, the ED announced FAFSA applicants that need to make updates and corrections to their FAFSA will be able to do so in the first half of April. 

As of April 1, 2024, the ED announced that roughly 20% of all FAFSA applications are affected by one of the following issues:
  • Some data fields are pulled from a mix of updated and original returns leading to inconsistent tax data.
  • Educational tax credit data field is inaccurate.
  • For manually entered tax information, inaccurate reported values for education tax credits and income taxes paid, due to discrepancies in the instructions. 
As of April 4, 2024, the ED announced all FAFSA applications impacted by tax discrepancies will be corrected and reprocessed when the functionality is available in the first half of April. If your FAFSA has been processed again in April, you will receive notification via email from the ED.
Update: As of April 9, 2024, the ED has amended their first half of April reprocessing timeline on tax discrepancies. The ED announced that they are now aiming to reprocess all tax affected FAFSA applications by May 1. The ED clarified that they expect to reprocess FAFSAs with other known issues by next week, so the extended May 1 timeline is specific to the tax discrepancies. If your FAFSA has been processed again, you will receive notification via email from the ED.

To prepare for the 2024-2025 FAFSA, you can:

Verify FSA ID(s)

An FSA ID is an account and password that gives you access to the Federal Student Aid’s online system and serves as your electronic signature. FSA IDs can take a few days to be created and verified, so having yours ready in advance will allow you to complete the FAFSA as soon as it opens.

Confirm your existing FSA ID and email address, or create an FSA ID on the Federal Student Aid website, and assist contributors, such as your parent(s) or spouse, in creating an FSA ID. Be sure to opt in to SMS message alerts to receive up to date notifications and learn about upcoming changes to the FAFSA.

With the FSA ID, you can fill out the FAFSA when it’s available (by Dec. 31) and sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN), if applicable.

Estimate Aid

Before the FAFSA opens in December, you can use the Federal Student Aid Estimator tool to find out how much federal student aid you may be eligible for in the 2024–2025 award year. 

This tool estimates the Student Aid Index (SAI) for 2024–25 award year, not the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for 2023–24 award year.

Complete the FAFSA

Complete the FAFSA as soon as it opens (by Dec. 31).

Instead of opening in October, the 2024-2025 FAFSA will open in December 2023. This change is temporary. After the 2024-2025 aid year, the FAFSA will be available in October as usual.

For a preview of the updated FAFSA, check out Federal Student Aid's October 2023 Financial Aid Bootcamps:

The U.S. Department of Education anticipates it will start sending FAFSA data to institutions at the end of January 2024.

The FAFSA will have fewer questions and fewer requirements. It will retrieve tax information using a direct data exchange from the IRS instead of the previous IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

The FAFSA is introducing new terminology, including:


A contributor is anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s FAFSA form, including the student, the student’s spouse, a biological or adopted parent, or the parent’s spouse.

  • Being a contributor does not imply responsibility for the student's college costs.
  • Students will need the contributor’s name, date of birth, Social Security Number, and email address to invite them to complete the required portion of the FAFSA.
  • All contributors—student, student's spouse (if married) and student's parent(s) (if a dependent student)—must provide consent to have tax data transferred directly from the IRS to the FAFSA. If consent is not provided by all parties, the student will not be eligible for federal financial aid. In previous years, transferring IRS data was optional. It is now required. In addition, small businesses and family farms are now considered assets. 
  • If you are a dependent student, you will report your parents' information and your own. If your parents are divorced or separated, the contributing parent(s) is the parent (and their spouse, if remarried) who provided the greater portion of your financial support during the 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA. It is not automatically the parent you primarily lived with during the past 12 months.

Student Aid Index

The need analysis formula to determine financial aid, formerly known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), will now be the Student Aid Index (SAI). Unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number. The maximum EFC was zero.

The number of family members in college will still be asked on the FAFSA, but it will be excluded from the federal, state, and institutional financial aid calculation.

Students may qualify for a maximum Pell Grant based on family size, adjusted gross income (AGI), poverty guidelines and tax filing status. Students with a negative or 0 SAI are eligible for the maximum Pell Grant.

FAFSA Submission Summary

The Student Aid Report (SAR) will now be called the FAFSA Submission Summary. This is the summary submission document you receive after your FAFSA is processed by the Department of Education. You will receive an email when your FAFSA Submission Summary is available to view beginning in the first half of March.

The adjustments to the new Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation will expand Federal Pell Grant (nonrepayable aid) eligibility to more students.

  • The FAFSA is still required annually for federal aid consideration and is available to U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens.
  • Questions introduced in 2023-24 about the applicant's sex, race, and ethnicity have no effect on federal student aid eligibility and remain only for statistical purposes.
  • Dependency status questions to determine whether your parents must provide their information remain the same.
  • The FAFSA will still request tax information for the year that is two years prior to the award year. For the 2024-2025 FAFSA, contributors will report 2022 tax information. Families who had significant reduction in income due to extenuating circumstances can still request special circumstances review.
  • Federal education loan requirements remain the same.
  • Academic requirements for federal aid are still required to maintain eligibility.


We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.