FAFSA Simplification Act

A Better FAFSA Process Means a Better Future for Everyone

On Dec. 27, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The law includes provisions that amend the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act and includes the FAFSA Simplification Act—a sweeping redesign of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid. Specifically, the law makes it easier for students and families to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA® ) form and expands access to federal student aid.

Benefits to Students, Families and Borrowers

Replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with
the Student Aid Index (SAI)

Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college and experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid.

Expanded Eligibility for Federal Financial Aid

The FAFSA Simplification Act will expand the Federal Pell Grant to more students and link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level (estimating 500k more Pell-qualifying students).

A Better User Experience for the FAFSA Form

The new FAFSA will offer a more streamlined application process making it less daunting for students and their families. It will feature fewer questions, fewer requirements, and retrieve tax information using a direct data exchange from the IRS instead of the previous IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

What's Important to Know Right Now

The 2024-2025 FAFSA is now available to complete on StudentAid.gov.

Federal Student Aid (FSA) will not be sending FAFSA information to universities until later in January 2024. Applicants will receive their FAFSA Submission Summary and a notification once their form has been sent to CSU. With the launch of the new FAFSA, FSA is also anticipating large volumes of applicants at one time. Because of this, you may experience wait times when completing the form.

To receive full consideration for financial aid at CSU, be sure to submit your 2024-25 FAFSA by the March 1st, 2024 priority date.

New Terminology


A contributor refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s form, and provide consent and approval for federal tax information (FTI) along with their signature on the FAFSA® form, including the student; the student’s spouse; a biological or adoptive parent; or the parent’s spouse (stepparent).

A parent means your legal (biological or adoptive) parent or a person that the state has determined to be your legal parent. A stepparent is considered a parent if they have adopted you. Stepparents who have not adopted you will be identified as a parent spouse.

Being a contributor does not imply responsibility for the student’s college costs. Determine if your parent is a contributor on StudentAid.gov.

Direct Data Exchange (DDX)

System used to transfer individuals tax information to determine federal aid eligibility (replaces what used to be the IRS data retrieval tool DRT).

Student Aid Index (SAI)

A calculation based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that allows us to determine how much need-based financial aid you are eligible for. It provides schools with a picture of your family’s financial strength. Replaced what used to be known as Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

FAFSA Submission Summary

Output document providing a summary of data input on the FAFSA form received after completing FAFSA application (replaces what used to be known as the student aid report (SAR)).

What's Changed

Students can now list up to 20 colleges.

Previously, the FAFSA only allowed students to list up to 10 colleges and universities.

The FAFSA will be available in more languages.

Currently, the FAFSA is only available in English and Spanish. The 2024-25 application will be expanded to include the 11 most common languages spoken by English learner students and their parents.

Applicants will be required to use the IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX).

Previously, users had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). Beginning with 2024-25, all persons on the FAFSA must provide consent for the Department of Education to receive tax information or confirmation of non-filing status directly from the IRS. In a very small number of cases, students and families will have to enter their tax data manually, but for most, that data will be automatically transferred into the application. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions to be answered.

All "contributors" must provide financial information.

A contributor—a new term being introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA—refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student’s or parent’s answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.

Contributors will receive an email informing them that they’ve been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don’t already have one) to provide the required information on the student’s FAFSA.

Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student’s education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA or the application will be incomplete and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

Students and contributors will now need to provide their consent to share federal tax information.

Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents will now need to provide their consent in the new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information section of the FAFSA for federal student aid eligibility. This consent will allow the IRS to share federal tax information.

If any party to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed; however, a SAI will not be calculated.

The number in college will not be used to calculate SAI.

Previously, the FAFSA calculated the number of household members attending college into the EFC, dividing it proportionately to determine federal aid eligibility. Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the application will still ask how many household members are in college, but your answer will not be calculated into the SAI. As such, undergraduate CSU students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.

Some students will automatically be awarded a Pell Grant.

Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will see their students receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Minimum Pell Grants will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.

The parent responsible for submitting the FAFSA in cases of divorce or separation has changed.

For dependent students, financial information was previously needed from the parent(s) the student had lived with the most in the last 12 months. With the new FAFSA, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student.

Family farms and small businesses must be reported as assets.

When required, families must now report the value of their small business or family farm. If the family farm includes the principal place of residence, applicants should determine the total net value of all farm assets and subtract the net value of their principal residence to determine the final value of their farm assets.

There will be a new optional demographic question on the FAFSA.

Applicants will be asked to report their sex, race, and ethnicity on the FAFSA itself, but students will be offered a choice of “Prefer Not to Answer”. Schools and states won’t see responses to these questions on the FAFSA.

Creating a StudentAid.gov Account

We strongly recommend you create your StudentAid.gov account before starting your FAFSA form. When you create your account, be careful to enter your name and Social Security number (SSN) exactly as they appear on your Social Security card.

On the 2024–25 FAFSA form, every contributor—anyone (you, your spouse, a biological or adoptive parent, or your parent’s spouse) who’s required to provide information on the FAFSA form—will need a StudentAid.gov account before accessing and completing their section of the online form. Contributors will access their StudentAid.gov account by using their FSA ID (account username and password).

What You'll Need

You might need the following information or documents as you fill out the 2024–25 FAFSA form:

  • Your parents’ SSNs if you’re a dependent student
  • Tax returns
  • Records of child support received
  • Current balances of cash, savings, and checking accounts
  • Net worth of investments, businesses, and farm


2024-25 FAFSA is now available

More students will receive Federal Pell Grant

SAI replaced the EFC on the FAFSA

2024-25 FAFSA changes are being implemented by the U.S. Department of Education. Information on this webpage is subject to change as new information becomes available.

Have a question? Stay connected with Federal Student Aid for on-going updates.