FAFSA Simplification Act and Changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA

A Better FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is changing for the 2024-25 academic year. The good news is that the FAFSA itself will be simplified, with changes that include a redesign and fewer questions. Plus, formulas determining aid eligibility have been modified with the goal of expanding financial assistance for low-income families.

What’s changing with the FAFSA?

  • FAFSA Application Opens Later

    The FAFSA for the 2024-2025 school year is projected to be available in December 2023 (rather than in October). Continue to check this page for the exact date once it is announced.

  • New Method for Calculating Aid

    Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is now the Student Aid Index (SAI)

    The EFC and SAI work similarly as each number represents an amount that estimates what families can pay for a student’s education costs, and it considers factors like household income and assets. Additionally, SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.

    Families with Multiple Children in College Could Receive Less Aid

    The number of children in college will no longer be included in the SAI calculation. Questions will still appear for institutional purposes only.

  • You May Automatically Qualify for the Maximum Pell Grant

    Pell grants eligibility is tied to how household income and family size compares to poverty guidelines. Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty guidelines may be eligible for the maximum Pell. Minimum Pell will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the federal poverty guidelines, depending on household structure. All aid is determined by SAI.

  • Contributor and Consent

    What is a Contributor? 

    A contributor is considered any individual required to provide a signature and consent on the FAFSA form, including the student, student’s spouse, a biological or adoptive parent, and/or the parent’s spouse (step-parent).

    Each contributor will now need to provide their consent to their federal tax information (FTI) being included in the FAFSA.

    Who is a Contributing Parent? 

    The contributing parent is no longer the custodial parent, but the parent with the greater income and/or assets. The new 2024-25 FAFSA will have a Parent wizard to help students identify who should be added as a contributing parent. Parent is defined as your biological or adoptive parent and/or the parent’s spouse (step-parent).

    Consent is Required for Every Contributor

    Consent is required to retrieve and disclose FTI. Every contributor is required to consent. If consent is declined, the student’s FAFSA will not be considered for federal student aid, including grants and loans. A consent is still required even if the student and/or parent didn’t file a U.S. federal tax return or any return at all.

  • Everyone Needs an FSA ID

    The FAFSA will no longer ask for a Save key. However, all contributors must have a FSA ID to complete the FAFSA application. The FSA ID serves as a digital signature on the FAFSA.  A Social Security number is required. Parents who do not have a social security number are also required to submit a FSA ID. Details on this process are coming and will be updated on the Federal Student Aid site.

  • New IRS Data Retrieval Tool Eases the Process

    The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is being replaced with Direct Data Exchange (DDX) as the process for transferring federal tax information (FTI) from the IRS to the FAFSA. This will reduce the number of financial questions that most families are usually asked on the FAFSA. In order to use the DDX, all contributors must consent to having their tax information transferred.

  • Add up to 20 Schools on the FAFSA Online

    This is an increase by 10 schools from the 2023-2024 FAFSA. If there are specific state guidelines when you select a school, the online FAFSA will list them for review in that section.

What’s staying the same with FAFSA?

Students must still complete a FAFSA to be considered for any federal and/or state grants. You have to fill out a new FAFSA every year. 

If you and/or a parent have already created a FSA ID, you can continue to use the one created. Your username does not expire, but your password expires every 18 months if you haven’t changed it.

Prior-year tax information is still requested. For the new 2024-2025 FAFSA, you will report your 2022 income and assets. Families with significant reductions in income will still be able to submit a Reconsideration Request appeal.

FAFSA Timeline and Tax Information


What term would you like to enroll in?


What Tax Year to use?

Spring 2024

2023-24 Application opened on October 1, 2022


Summer 2024

2023-24 Application opened on October 1, 2022


Fall 2024

2024-25 Application opens December 2023


Spring 2025

2024-25 Application opens December 2023


Additional Information and Resources

Central Piedmont’s Financial Aid office is dedicated to providing timely updates to our students, families, and community. With the significant amount of changes, we will continue to update this page as we receive them. Additionally, the Federal Student Aid site will give you the latest FAFSA news and documents. Visit How FAFSA Changes Will Impact Families in 2024-25 to learn more.

Attend one of our virtual group and individual sessions for guidance on the FAFSA application process.

Attend a FAFSA Workshop

Glossary of FAFSA Terms and Definitions

  • Contributor

    A contributor is any individual required to provide a signature and consent on the FAFSA form, including the student, student’s spouse, biological or adoptive parent, and/or the parent’s spouse (step-parent).

  • Direct Data Exchange (DDX)

    The IRS will develop the FUTURE Act–Direct Data Exchange (FA-DDX) technology solution, which will establish a secure connection between the IRS and FSA agencies to process requests in near-real time.

  • Date Retrieval Tool (DRT)

    The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) electronically transfers Federal Tax Return Information (for students and parents) into your FAFSA form. 

  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

    Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid and is based on the information you provide in your FAFSA form.

  • Federal Student Aid (FSA)

    Federal Student Aid (FSA) is an office of the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Federal Tax Information (FTI)

    Federal tax information (FTI) consists of federal tax returns and return information (and information obtained from it).

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service for the United States federal government, which is responsible for collecting U.S. federal taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the main body of the federal statutory tax law.

  • Parent

    The meaning of parent for FAFSA application purposes is defined as your biological or adoptive parent and/or the parent’s spouse (step-parent).

  • Student Aid Index (SAI)

    The Student Aid Index (SAI) is a number that determines each student's eligibility for certain types of federal student aid. This number is calculated with formulas that use information that you provide on your FAFSA form.