2024-25 FAFSA Changes

The 2024-25 FAFSA is Changing – Are You Ready?

The 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application process is going to look a bit different than in the past. Don’t worry, we’re here to help keep you informed!

Why is it changing?

The new FAFSA Simplification Act and recent amendments to the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act include provisions for 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 FAFSA form and expands access to federal student aid.

What's changing?

2024-25 FAFSA availability date

  • Normally, the FAFSA becomes available October 1st each year, but the 2024-25 FAFSA will be available by the end of December 2023.
  • The 2024-25 Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, an option for students who qualify under the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act, should also be available about the time the FAFSA opens.

The “EFC” (Expected Family Contribution) is going away

  • With the 2024-25 FAFSA, the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be replaced with the Student Aid Index (SAI), which is a new analysis formula and number that we will used to award need-based grants and scholarships.

Streamlined application

  • You’ll notice fewer questions when completing the 2024-25 FAFSA and an easier way to transfer tax information directly from the IRS.

New terminology

  • You’ll notice a few new terms like contributor (anyone who is asked to provide information on the FAFSA, a parent or student spouse for example) and consent (each contributor will need to consent to their information being included on the FAFSA).

Best Practices for Filing the 2024-25 FAFSA 

Before you start:

  • Create or confirm your StudentAid.gov Account, formerly FSA ID. Everyone who needs to provide information on the FAFSA needs an StudentAid.gov Account. This includes the student, the student's parents or stepparents (if the student is a dependent), and the student's spouse (if applicable).
  • Gather your tax information. When completing the FAFSA, you may need to reference tax returns, records of child support received, current bank account balances, and net worth of investments and businesses for the student and parents or stepparents, if applicable.

Steps to complete the new FAFSA:

  1. Create or confirm your StudentAid.gov account, formerly FSA ID. This can be done now!  
  2. Student completes their section of the FAFSA   
  3. Invite contributors to the FAFSA  
  4. Contributors complete their section of the FAFSA  
  5. All contributors provide consent and sign the FAFSA   


  • Start early.  Some FAFSA funds are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, so submitting it as early as possible is best.  
  • Be accurate.  Provide complete and accurate information on the FAFSA. Any errors or omissions could delay your application or even make you ineligible for financial aid.  
  • Keep copies of all supporting documents. If selected for verification by Federal Student Aid, you may be asked to provide copies of your tax returns, W-2s, and other documents to verify your FAFSA information.  

Additional information about contributors:

  • If you are a dependent student, you must indicate your parents or stepparents as contributors on the FAFSA.  
  • If your parents are married and filed joint 2022 tax returns, only one parent needs to consent and sign the FAFSA as a contributor.  
  • If your parents are married and filed separate 2022 tax returns, both parents need to consent and sign the FAFSA as contributors.  
  • If your parents are divorced, separated, or never married, the parent who provides the most financial support should complete the FAFSA as a contributor.  
  • If you are married, you must indicate your spouse as a contributor on the FAFSA.
  • Contributors are not financially responsible for your education expenses.

What happens after you submit the FAFSA:

  • Once you submit the FAFSA, it will be processed by Federal Student Aid and you’ll receive a confirmation notification once complete.
  • You can then check your application status and view your FAFSA Submission Summary on studentaid.gov. 
  • Once we receive your application, we will contact you through email about next steps or when your aid offer is available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Studentaid.gov Account

What is a StudentAid.gov Account?
A Studentaid.gov Account, formerly FSA ID is used by student and contributions to access federal student aid websites. If you already created FSA ID previously, you are good to go! You will just notice a change of name.  

Who needs a StudentAid.gov Account, and what is it used for?  
All students and contributors must create an account if they are:  

  • Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form  
  • Signing your Master Promissory Note (MPN)  
  • Completing loan counseling   
  • Applying for a Federal PLUS Loan
  • Applying for repayment plans  

How do I create an account?  
To create an account, go to StudentAid.gov and click "Create An Account." You will need:

  • Full name  
  • Date of birth  
  • Social Security number
  • Email address  
  • Mobile phone number  

You will also need to create a memorable username and password and complete challenge questions and answers to retrieve your account information if you forget it.  

Will individuals without a Social Security Number be able to create a StudentAid.gov Account to use with the 2024-25 FAFSA? 
Yes. There will be an alternative process for creating an account and verifying one’s identity. Federal Student Aid will use TransUnion services to ask knowledge-based questions to help with identity verification. Examples of these questions may include current or former addresses, a previous phone number, an employer, or a home/auto loan. Answers will be multiple choice (including “none of the above”). 

When should I create an account?  
You can create an account at studentaid.gov at any time, but it is recommended that you create it at least a week or two before you start filling out the FAFSA form. This will give you time to verify your account and make sure that it is working properly.  

What if I need help creating a Studentaid.gov Account?
Please call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) for assistance.

What is two-step verification and why do I have to set it up for my StudentAid.gov account?  
Two-step verification is a security feature that helps protect your StudentAid.gov Account from fraud. When you enable two-step verification, you will be required to enter a code from your mobile phone in addition to your username and password when you log in to your account.  

Does each contributor need a unique phone number or email for multi-factor authentication?  
Yes. Each contributor must have a unique phone number or email for multi-factor authentication.  

Do both parents need to create an account or just one like before?  
This depends on the family's situation. For example, if a student has married parents filing taxes separately, both parents will need to create an account.  

If the student and parent already had an FSA ID, do they need to create a StudentAid.gov Account? 
No. They should just ensure the accounts are verified and ready to use when the 2024-25 FAFSA opens in December 2023.  

FAFSA Contributors

Who are contributors for 2024-25 FAFSA purposes?  
A contributor is anyone required to provide consent and approval for obtaining federal tax information needed to complete a student's FAFSA. If applicable, it may include:  

  • Student  
  • Student's spouse 
  • Biological or adopted parent  
  • Parent's spouse (stepparent)  

Who are not contributors?  

  • Grandparents  
  • Foster parents  
  • Legal guardians  
  • Brothers or sisters  
  • Aunts or uncles  

How are contributors determined?  
The student's or parent's answers to certain questions on the FAFSA form will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.  

What do contributors need to provide?  

  • Name  
  • Date of birth  
  • Social Security number  
  • Email address  
  • Personal and financial information

What steps do contributors need to follow?  

  1. Receive an email informing you that you've been identified as a contributor.  
  2. Create a StudentAid.gov Account, if you don't already have one.  
  3. Log in to your account using your Studentaid.gov Account username and password. 
  4. Review information about completing your section of the FAFSA form.  
  5. Provide the required information on the student's FAFSA form.  

What if I am a contributor and don't want to provide my information?  
Being a contributor does not implicate financial responsibility. However, if a required contributor refuses to provide their information, it will result in an incomplete FAFSA form, and the student will become ineligible for financial aid.  

In cases where biological parents are not married, who should provide information on the FAFSA?  

  • If a dependent student's parents are unmarried and living together, both parents will need to complete the FAFSA as contributors.   
  • If parents do not live together, the parent who provides the most financial support should complete it.   
  • If one parent pays child support, that parent should include that amount as their support in determining who provides the most financial support.
  • If the parent who provides most financial support is remarried, that parent and the stepparent's income should be on the FAFSA, even if they were not yet married on the requested tax year.    

FAFSA Consent

Why do I need to provide consent?   
The FUTURE Act requires all contributors on the FAFSA to provide consent to share their tax information with the IRS. This consent is necessary for Federal Student Aid to request federal tax information from the IRS and to use that information in the federal student aid application process.  

What happens if I don't provide consent?   
Consent is mandatory for transferring federal tax information from the IRS and determining the student’s aid eligibility. If a contributor does not provide consent on, the student will be ineligible for any federal aid.   

What happens when someone provides consent on the 2024-25 FAFSA?
Providing consent allows Federal Student Aid to use your name and social security number to match with the IRS so the IRS may share your tax information with the Federal Student Aid to determine a student's eligibility for federal student aid. 

Do I still need to provide consent if I had a low income and was not required to file taxes or even if I had zero wages?   
Every contributor still needs to provide consent on the FAFSA, so the IRS can confirm to Federal Student Aid that you, your parents, or spouse didn't file taxes.  

What happens if a contributor provides consent but doesn't sign the application?   
Starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA, all parties must provide consent and sign the FAFSA online. If a signature is missing, the parent or the contributor that needs to complete their section and/or sign the application must obtain an Studentaid.gov Account to complete their required section, including signing the form.

Federal Taxes, Assets & Financial Data

Will students still be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)?   
No. Starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the DRT will no longer exist. Federal Student Aid will now directly transfer Federal Tax Information (FTI) from the IRS into the FAFSA form as long as you have provided FSA with the consent to do so.  

Will non-custodial parents be contributors if they have not claimed the child on their taxes?   
Yes. Starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the parent of record is based on which one provides the most financial support, in cases where parents are not married. The reported parents, and their spouse, provide consent to transfer their tax data even if they do not claim the student on their taxes.  

If parents who are remarried provide more financial support to the child than a biological parent, does the stepparent have to provide their tax information?   
Yes. If the parent providing more financial support is remarried, the stepparent's tax information is required.
What if my parent or stepparent does not want to provide their tax information for my FAFSA?   
We cannot provide tax advice, but the Office of Financial Aid can offer to talk directly with the parent or stepparent to explain why Federal Student Aid requires their information.

Can my parent or I self-report our income on FAFSA?   
Yes, but you still need to provide consent. We recommend you allow FAFSA provide your income from IRS taxes. Note: If your situation has changed from the required tax year, please contact our office.

What if my parents had a low income and was not required to file taxes?   
Students whose parents were not required to file a federal income tax return will still need to consent and sign the FAFSA.

Why are assets different on the 2024-25 FAFSA?   
Starting with the 2024–25 FAFSA, some financial information previously considered income or previously excluded from asset reporting will now be required to be reported as assets. These include:

  • Annual amount of child support received.  
  • Net worth of all businesses, regardless of the size or number of employees.  
  • Net worth of farms, including the value of a family farm (family primary's residence is still excluded).
  • For dependent students, education savings accounts will only be counted as parental assets if the account is designated for the student.   

Other Questions

How can I be considered an independent student?   
To be considered an independent student for the 2024-25 FAFSA, you must meet one of the following criteria and provide documentation:   

  • Born before January 1, 2001   
  • Married (and not separated)   
  • A graduate or professional student   
  • A veteran   
  • A member of the armed forces   
  • An orphan   
  • A ward of the court   
  • Someone with legal dependents other than a spouse   
  • An emancipated minor   
  • Someone who is unaccompanied and homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless    

What are unusual circumstances?   
Unusual circumstances are when a student is unable to contact a parent or where contact with the parent poses a risk to the student. Examples include human trafficking, legally granted refugee or asylum status, parental abandonment or estrangement, and student or parental incarceration. Students are able to indicate this circumstance on the FAFSA and be given a provisional independent student status, allowing them to not include parent information on the FAFSA. Note: The Office of Financial Aid is required to collect documentation to confirm this status.
What are special circumstances?   
Special circumstances are current situations not reflected on the FAFSA that impact a student/family’s ability to pay for educational costs. Examples are:

  • Reduced income/job loss 
  • Medical/dental expenses paid 
  • Separation/divorce of a parent or spouse 
  • Death of a parent or spouse 
  • Sibling in college
  • Sibling in elementary/secondary private school
  • Changes in Cost of Attendance (COA) 
  • Request for additional financial assistance