Resources for School and College Counselors

The U.S. Department of Education has launched the 2024-2025 FAFSA, however, schools won't begin to receive FAFSA data until mid-March (at the earliest).

Summary of FAFSA Changes

One of the changes that has attracted the most attention initially is the simplification of the FASFA.

The current FAFSA has a maximum of 108 questions and that’s being shrunk down to roughly three dozen. That will reduce the FAFSA from the equivalent of six pages down to two pages.

The aim was to simplify the FAFSA by aligning it more closely with the Internal Revenue Service’s income tax regulations. More answers will be able to be pulled from household income tax returns, which can make it easier for a family to complete the financial aid application.

The new term contributor has been introduced to the 2024-2025 FAFSA, which refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s FAFSA form.

The new FAFSA is student driven, so that means the student's answers on their section will determine who will be a contributor. Contributors besides the student and parent may now include the student’s spouse or the parent’s spouse (stepparent). Contributors will each log in to the FAFSA separately with their own FSA ID account, to complete each of their specific sections and questions that only they can view.

View the FAQs below to see how the FAFSA will identify which contributors you will need to include.

Students and all contributors must register for an FSA account, known as an FSA ID, to complete and sign the online 2024-2025 FAFSA.

The ability to create an FSA ID has historically been limited only to parents who can be verified with a Social Security Number. However, starting in December 2023, all parent and spouse contributors without a SSN may now create one using the Department of Education's newly developed system to validate identity. Further guidance for using the updated FSA ID process is anticipated in December.

All contributors are encouraged to create the FSA ID as soon as they are able to.

Creating an FSA ID

Rather than importing tax information into the FAFSA using the previously used IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), contributors will now consent to transfer their tax information through the IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX). This will reduce the number of financial questions that most families will see on the FAFSA.

The student and all contributors must provide this consent and approval on the FAFSA in order to be eligible for federal student aid. Providing consent even applies to contributors who don't have a Social Security Number, didn't file 2022 taxes, or who filed taxes outside the US.

The methodology used to measure a families ability to pay for college and their resulting financial aid eligibility, currently known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), has been replaced with the Student Aid Index (SAI).

The new SAI formula will result in a new eligibility calculation for Federal Pell Grants and redefine a minimum need determination of SAI to be as low as -1500, in order to better target students with the highest need.

The 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act contained significant changes to the Federal Methodology (FM) formula for determining federal student aid eligibility through the FAFSA. One particular change to the formula, however, has received more attention than others — the removal of taking into account the number of the applicant's family members who are enrolled in college

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. 

Note: Household size is now known as family size, determined by exemptions claimed on federal tax returns. You can adjust it to match your current situation.

Adjustments to the new Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation and eligibility formulas are estimated to increase the number of Pell Grant recipients by nearly 15%.

Eligibility for federal student aid will also be expanded by removing the questions related to Selective Service registration and drug conviction status, and restoring access to Pell grant for incarcerated students under specific programs.

Homeless, orphan, former foster youth, and unaccompanied youth—as well as applicants who cannot provide parental information because of unusual circumstances—will be able to complete the FAFSA with a provisional independent status determination and receive a calculated Student Aid Index (SAI).

Once the FAFSA is submitted, students can then reach out to the Student Financial Aid office to request that their independent status determination be approved based on supporting documentation. The student will receive an automatic renewal of the independent status (starting in 2025-2026) as long as their circumstances remain unchanged. 

  • Students may now send their FAFSA to up to 20 colleges
  • The FAFSA will be expanded to the 11 most common languages spoken by English learner students and their parents
  • Language-specific resources and support will also be available from FSA Information Center
  • Once the FAFSA has been started, students will now be able to view the status, including contributor progress, on their FSA account
  • Once all required data has been provided and all sections have been signed, any contributor can submit the FAFSA form
  • After the FAFSA form is processed, a contributor is able to correct or update only their sections of the student’s application
  • The results of the FAFSA form sent to the applicant in a document is now known as the FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS), with it formerly being called the Student Aid Report (SAR)

Frequently Asked Questions

Contributors & Creating an FSA ID

Contributor is a new term introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA. It refers to anyone asked to provide information on a FAFSA including:

  • the student
  • the student's spouse
  • the biological or adoptive parent(s)
  • the spouse of a remarried parent who is on the FAFSA (stepparent)

The student's answers on their section of the FAFSA will determine which additional contributors (such as parents or spouse) will be required to provide their information. An invitation will go out to these contributors once the following information is entered on the FAFSA:

  • Contributors name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Email address


  1. Contributor receives an email informing them that they've been identified as a contributor by the student.
  2. Contributor creates a FSA account if they don't already have one.
  3. Contributor logs in to account using their FSA ID  account username and password.
  4. Contributor reviews information about completing their section of the FAFSA form.
  5. Contributor provides the required personal and financial information on their own sections of the FAFSA form.

Families may prepare early by creating an FSA ID on the Federal Student Aid website anytime before the FAFSA opens. This applies to all student, parent, or spouse contributors, that have a Social Security Number (SSN). 

All parent and spouse participants without a Social Security Number (SSN) may create one for the first time starting in December, using the Department of Education's newly developed system to validate identity. Further guidance for using this newly developed system is also anticipated in December. 

No. You can retrieve your existing FSA ID if you forgot your username and password.

Note: Q: The FSA ID login process requires a two-step verification (i.e., multifactor authentication) process to access the FAFSA. What if the email, text, or authenticator application verification does not work?

A: When establishing an FSA ID or when last logged in, a student and/or parent contributor should have been provided a one-time back up code. This code can be used when all other forms of verification fail. Make sure to write this code down and keep it in a secure location in case you need to use it. Once you have used the code, you will need to log into your FSA ID account and a new code will be generated. Keep the new code in a secure location.

An FSA ID will take around 3 days to be verified and ready to use to complete a FAFSA. We recommend creating it a few days before starting the FAFSA form.


As a result of the Future Act, all contributors are required to have an FSA ID and provide consent in order to:

  1. Have their federal tax information (FTI) transferred from the IRS
  2. Have their tax data used to determine the student's eligibility for aid
  3. Allow the Department of Education to share their tax information with institutions and state higher education agencies for the administration of Title IV aid.

Consent is provided once for the award year and cannot be revoked in that award year. This consent is necessary even if the contributor does not have an SSN, did not file taxes, or filed taxes in another country.

If a required contributor does not provide consent to have their tax information transferred to the FAFSA form, the Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

Note: Being a contributor does not implicate financial responsibility for a student's education.

If any contributor does not provide consent on the FAFSA, the student will not be eligible for any Title IV aid.

Students will be given the opportunity on the FAFSA to indicate they would like to receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan in these situations.

Once an electronic FAFSA is started online, all contributors must complete it online. That means that if an electronic signature was left missing, the contributor that needs to sign the application must log in again with their FSA ID.

Tax Information

2022 tax information and earnings will be reported on the 2024-2025 FAFSA.

Family size reported on the FAFSA will be automatically calculated based on the number of individuals claimed on the tax return (if filed). If your family size on the FAFSA needs to be reported differently than the number claimed on your taxes, there will be an option to correct the number manually after consent has been provided.

Note: A contributor cannot see what family size was reported from the IRS as that information is protected - be sure to have a copy of your tax return on hand to check who was claimed.

There are a few instances where the application will allow you to self-report if federal tax information cannot be accurately transferred through the Direct Data Exchange (DDX). Examples of when self-reporting is necessary:

  • Individuals who were married and filed jointly with the IRS in 2022 and are no longer married to that spouse, or who have married a different spouse
  • Individuals with foreign income or who only file foreign tax returns, as the IRS does not link to foreign tax authorities. They will instead need to manually input their income and tax data by converting foreign currency to U.S. dollars and entering the resulting amounts in the comparable fields from U.S. tax returns, such as adjusted gross income, income tax paid, and any untaxed income.
  • Individuals with Foreign Earned Income Exclusion from IRS Form 2555 or 2555-EZ and reported on the 1040 tax return

While manually entering tax information into the FAFSA is allowable in these situations, consent must still be provided.

The Data Retrieval Tool (used on the 2023-2024 FAFSA) is an optional tool to transfer your tax information on to the FAFSA, while consent to transfer tax information using the Direct Data Exchange (on the 2024-2025 FAFSA) is required for eligibility.

The Direct Data Exchange uses an improved process to automatically match a participant with the IRS, meaning a participant will no longer be directed to go on to the IRS website to enter their exact mailing address from their tax return to get a match before data is transferred.

Student Aid Index (SAI) & Federal Pell Grant

Yes, students and counselors may utilize the Federal Student Aid Estimator to find out how much federal student aid a student may be eligible for starting with the 2024–2025 award year based on an estimated Student Aid Index (SAI).

The Maximum Pell Grant award for the 2024-2025 aid year has not been released by the Department of Education. Future updates are expected early next year.

The Maximum Pell Grant award for the 2023-24 aid year is $7,395. 

The Scheduled Pell Award is the calculated award amount a student can receive during an academic year if they attend full-time (12 credits). Beginning with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, this award is calculated in three ways.

  1. Maximum Pell Grant - Automatically calculated when a student has a Student Aid Index (SAI) between –1500 and 0.
  2. Student Aid Index (SAI) Calculation - Used for students who don’t automatically qualify for a Maximum Pell Grant, but have a calculated SAI that is less than the Maximum Pell Grant award for the award year. 
    Calculation: The Maximum Pell Grant for the award year minus (-) the student's SAI = the student’s Scheduled Pell award.
  3. Minimum Pell Grant - Students whose calculated SAI is greater than the Maximum Pell Grant award for the award year may still be eligible for a Pell Grant based on family size, adjusted gross income, and poverty guidelines.

A student's Scheduled Pell Award will be paid out each semester based on the number of enrollment credits:

  • Those enrolled full-time (12 credits) will receive their full Scheduled Pell Award
  • Those enrolled less than 12 hours will multiply their Scheduled Pell Award by the percentages shown below to get the total prorated Pell award that will pay out for the semester. This percentage determination is known as Enrollment Intensity.

    pell percentages

The new Student Aid Index (SAI) includes several changes in the calculation used to determine aid:

  • The number of family members in college is no longer considered in the calculation, but it remains a required question on the form
  • Child support received will now count as an asset
  • Family farms and small businesses will now count as assets - with the net worth of businesses and farms of any size included
  • Families with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) greater than $60,000 will be required to report asset information

Additional Resources


  • FAFSA Changes: An Overview Webinar: Provides an overview of the FAFSA changes, including the contributor role, the account requirement, the SAI, the requirement for consent and approval to have federal tax information transferred, and the changes to special and unusual circumstances.
  • Special Student Populations and Circumstances for the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form webinar: Helps college access professionals guide students with special and unusual circumstances, and students who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness, through the FAFSA process. This webinar covers key terminology, how to navigate the professional judgment process, and what documentation students may need to provide.
  • 2024–25 FAFSA® Demonstration webinar: Shares a tour of the new features in the FAFSA form and discusses important updates to the FAFSA experience, including the new roles page, how to invite contributors, the new question order, the student demographic questions, the parent wizard, and other features. This demonstration shows a scenario of a dependent student with married parents who file a joint tax return.