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How the New Student Aid Index Will Impact Your Family’s Financial Aid Eligibility

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How the New Student Aid Index Will Impact Your Family’s Financial Aid Eligibility

Since 2021, the Department of Education has worked to streamline and simplify the FAFSA application. These simplifications are also meant to make financial aid more accessible for all families. One of the biggest changes to the FAFSA is the NEW Student Aid Index (the old formula was Expected Family Contribution EFC).

Here’s a breakdown of the major changes to the FAFSA for the 2024-2025 year and how they might impact your family. 


Student Aid Index Changes  

One of the major changes for FAFSA is how it will handle the Student Aid Index (formerly the Expected Family Contribution). As a reminder, the SAI represents how much money your family is expected to contribute to college in a year. This number determines how much need-based financial aid your student is eligible for. For the 2024-2025 FAFSA, changes have been made regarding the SAI. These changes will impact families with more than one student in college dramatically. Previously, the amount calculated for the Expected Family Contribution was divided between the number of students in school. But, that is no longer the case. For families with multiple college students, be aware that your SAI will increase and decrease eligibility for these families. 

Changes also include the concept of a negative SAI, which should allow the very neediest students to receive aid in excess of the Cost of Attendance (COA) established by their school. The addition of a negative figure could prove helpful by further differentiating lower income students.

SAI Considerations

  • Each college will use a new SAI formula to take financial information into consideration to award families financial aid at each institution will attend in the fall of 2025. Remember if your student is applying to college in the fall of 2024 compare financial aid award letters before enrolling.
  • Don’t get too worked up over the new SAI. Wait until you receive financial aid award packages from your colleges before making financial choices. 
  • There can be differences in need-based awards from one institution to the next, and between public and private colleges. One big factor in these ranges is that there is a different Cost of Attendance for each college.
  • The SAI does not take merit-based awards into consideration. Your student may receive a larger award package from one college that wants to recruit students with certain capabilities.

Other FAFSA Changes for 2024-2025

Thanks to the FAFSA Simplification Act, major changes have been made to the FAFSA application to make it more accessible for lower income families, as well as easier for everyone completing the application. One of the most obvious changes is the length of the application. Questions will be nearly cut in half, and reduced even further with smart logic. Additionally, families will be required to give consent to transfer data from the IRS to gather federal tax information (FTI). An FSA ID is required for all applicants, spouses, and parents – so make sure to apply for that today! 

The new FAFSA application should help more families pay for college. While we’re all anxious to see the changes and find out how it impacts our financial aid, just remember that these changes are meant to be helpful. Streamlining a complicated application and making it more accessible is always a huge win! If you still feel confused or worried about the FAFSA application, be sure to reach out to us at CFAA! Don’t forget – This year’s FAFSA will be delayed until December, and return to October after that. 

Who We Are 

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.


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