It’s been 40 years since the last major overhaul of the FAFSA application. To say it’s over due would be an understatement. If you need a reminder, FAFSA is the application every college student should file for financial aid assistance as a freshman and throughout college. The information on this application helps to determine your eligibility for aid for each year student applies while in college. During the 2019-2020 year, Congress passed the FUTURE Act and FAFSA Simplification Act – both of which makes it easier for students to apply for financial aid, while ensuring more students and families qualify for help. Because of the new legislation, there have been major changes to the FAFSA itself. These changes impact how you fill out the form, how various aspects of financial aid are calculated and more.
We’re sharing 3 of the biggest changes for the 2024-2025 FAFSA!
#1: Revisions to Cost of Attendance
For years, there have been standard allowances for certain components of the college experience, including room and board, food and housing, and transportation. Together, these make up the Cost of Attendance (COA) allowance. Starting this year, “room and board” has become “food and housing”, “food and housing” has been grouped into “living expenses” and transportation includes travel between campus, home and work for the student. While these don’t change much for you and your families, this may impact the way colleges break down fees. Colleges are also required to list the COA alongside any information about tuition now. That’s a huge win for potential students!
#2: Student Aid Index Will Not Determine Pell Grant Eligibility
The Student Aid Index is how your need is determined. FAFSA takes the cost of attendance minus your student aid index (formerly the Expected Family Contribution) minus other aid to calculate your expected need for funds. While that calculation really isn’t new, the laws have changed the eligibility calculations for Pell Grants and other need based student aid. The SAI will not be the primary determinant of Pell eligibility. That’s an important change. As of now, the minimum and the maximum values of the Pell Grant will be based on the family’s adjusted gross income along with household size and federal poverty guidelines. SAI will only be a factor for students whose eligibility falls in between the minimum and the maximum awards – which is a change from previous years.
#3: Role Based Applications
For the 2024-2025 year, FAFSA will change the online experience to be role based. That means there will be roles for the student, the parent (and other parent as appropriate), and student spouse. The student’s dependency, marital, and tax filing status will determine if additional contributors are required on the form. It will also dictate who will sign the paperwork under their own FSAID ID, too. Different situations will dictate who needs to sign in and complete the paperwork. But this role based system will make those distinctions even easier to follow.
The main goal of the changes to the 2024-2025 FAFSA was to make the process more simple and easier to understand while helping more families qualify for aid. While we all have yet to access the system and determine if the changes have worked, the new changes do seem promising! Remember to keep preparing for this year’s application to open in the winter!
Still Have Questions? Let’s talk!
CFAA helps with the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college.