A Better FAFSA

The U.S. FAFSA Simplification Act represents a significant overhaul to the processes and systems used to apply for and offer financial aid.

CAUTION!

Our information is limited, but we will continue to update this page as more details become available. The details included on this page are what we can currently confirm. Check back regularly for updates!


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2024-2025 FAFSA

AVAILABLE!

While the release of the 2024-25 FAFSA® was delayed, the Department of Education has now launched the 2024-25 FAFSA®. The Department of Education has indicated that they may initiate pauses for site maintenance and to make technical updates as needed.
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Impacts & Benefits

The FAFSA® is getting a makeover with the hopes of making it even easier for students and their families to submit.

Not only will there be fewer questions on the FAFSA® to answer, and fewer requirements overall, your tax information will be retrieved through a direct data exchange (DDX) with the IRS.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) also estimates we should see in increase to the number of students eligible to receive the Federal Pell Grant.



FSA ID

Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA®, all users/contributors must have an FSA ID and password to fill out the FAFSA®, even those without a Social Security Number (SSN).

Note: There is currently an issue preventing contributors without a Social Security Number (SSN) from starting or accessing the 2024-25 FAFSA form. Until it's resolved, follow the steps outlined in Federal Student Aid's guidance document (How to Submit the 2024-25 FAFSA Form if Your Contributor Doesn't Have an SSN).

Processing your FSA ID can take up to 5 business days, so we recommend creating it at least a week before you start your FAFSA®. You could even do it now!

What is an FSA ID?

An FSA ID is a username and password that you must use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Who needs an FSA ID?

Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA®, all contributors (student, student’s spouse, and/or parent) must have their own FSA ID.

How do you get an FSA ID?

To create your FSA ID, please go to http://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch.

What if I don't remember my FSA ID or am not sure if I have one?

To retrieve a forgotten FSA ID or password, please go to http://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/sign-in/landing and click either the “Forgot my Username” or “Forgot my Password” links.

When should I create my FSA ID?

If you’ve got a Social Security Number (SSN), you can create it now!

In general, because it can take up to 5 business days, we recommend creating it at least a week before you start your FAFSA®.

Those without SSN’s will likely have to wait until December 2023 before the system is able to create their FSA IDs.


What’s Changing?

Contributors

A contributor refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s FAFSA®, 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.

  • • You, the student, will need the contributor’s name, date of birth, Social Security Number (SSN), and email address to invite them to complete the required portion of your FAFSA®.

  • • Contributors will need to provide personal and financial information on their section of your FAFSA®. They will only be able to see and complete their own specific sections of your FAFSA®.

  • • All Contributors must provide consent to have their federal tax information (FTI) transferred directly from the IRS to the FAFSA®. If consent is not provided by all parties, you will not be eligible for federal financial aid. In previous years, transferring IRS data was optional; moving forward, it’s required.
 

Which Parent to Use in Divorced/Separated Situations

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 no longer will default to the parent you primarily lived with during the past 12 months.

Family Size and Number in College

The number of people in your family size will be automatically pulled in from your Federal Tax Information (FTI).

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.

Assets

Child Support Received

The annual amount of child support received (i.e. in the last complete calendar year) should be included in the assets you report.

Small Business and Farm Assets

The net worth of any small business and/or farm must be included on the FAFSA®. Remember, net worth = asset value minus asset debt.

Education Savings Accounts (i.e. 529 Plans)

For dependent students, these accounts will only be counted as a parental asset if the account is designated for the student.

Terminology

EFC > SAI

The final figure calculated by the FAFSA® will no longer be called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Rather, it will be called the Student Aid Index (SAI) to more accurately describe how that number is used to determine financial aid eligibility. And, instead of a scale of 0 to 999,999, the SAI could be a negative number and the new scale is from -1,500 to 999,999.

Student Aid Report (SAR) > FAFSA® Submission Summary

Similarly, the Student Aid Report (SAR) which is the confirmation of what’s been submitted will now be referred to as the FAFSA® Submission Summary.

Unusual Circumstances

Otherwise dependent students who indicate that they have unusual circumstances that prevent them from providing parent data will no longer receive a rejected FASFA but will instead have their application processed with provisional independent status, a provisional SAI, and an estimate of federal student aid eligibility.

However, if you’re a student in this situation, you must still follow up with our office to make final determinations.


What’s Not Changing?

Basic Eligibility

The FAFSA® will continue to be made available on an annual basis for federal financial aid consideration, and students must meet the eligibility requirements. Completing the FAFSA® is the first step to be considered for any type of federal or state aid and most institutional aid (including scholarships).

Please note: If you are an Illinois resident but are ineligible for federal aid as an undocumented student, you can still apply for state assistance.

The Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act became law in January 2020. Find out whether you should complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid instead of the FAFSA.

Dependency Status

The requirement that determines whether or not you, the student, are required to provide parent information on your FAFSA® will remain the same. The FAFSA® includes a series of questions and you must be able to answer ‘Yes’ to at least one question to be considered Independent for financial aid purposes. Read more.

Prior-Prior Year Tax Data

The FAFSA® will use prior-prior tax data, which could be up to two years old. If you or your family have experienced significant changes in income or have expenses that are not reflected on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), your special circumstances may be eligible for a professional judgment. For more information on a professional judgment, please reach out to our office.


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