FAFSA Simplification | SKYCTC

FAFSA Simplification

What is the FAFSA Simplification Act?

The FAFSA Simplification Act represents a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid starting with the 2024–25 award year. This includes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, need analysis, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in federal student aid programs.

Typically, the FAFSA for the 2024-25 award year would have been available October 1, 2023. Due to major changes and improvements coming with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the release was delayed and is anticipated to be available on December 31, 2023, at studentaid.gov.

Although the 2024-25 FAFSA is not expected to be available until December 31, 2023, students and contributors (spouse or parent(s) if applicable) are encouraged to create their FSA ID as soon as possible to ensure it is confirmed before initiating the FAFSA.

What is the FSA ID?

The FSA ID is a username and password combination that is used to log in to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) online systems. The FSA ID serves as a legal signature and shouldn’t be created or used by anyone other than the person for which it was created.

  • The FSA ID is not assigned instantaneously; we recommend creating it at least 2 weeks prior to submission of the FAFSA
  • The FSA ID is required for ED online systems (cannot log on with demographic info) and must be verified with phone number or email
  • Parents with no SSN can still create an FSA ID using a knowledge-based identify verification software through TransUnion
  • Undocumented parents will need an FSA ID (this info is kept secure and only used for determining the student’s eligibility for financial aid)
  • Some scenarios will require both parents to create an FSA ID (anyone contributing tax information will need an FSA ID)

There is an onboarding process with initial login to assist contributors and a Parent Wizard to help in determining whose information should be included on the FAFSA.

What if I need help completing the FAFSA?

SKYCTC and TRIO staff are available to help with completion of the FAFSA. Below are FAFSA Workshops being offered beginning in January 2024. Just click the link per date and sign up for an available time slot that works best.

How does the process work?

The FAFSA can be initiated once the student and contributors have obtained an FSA ID.

  1. If a student begins the FAFSA, the student invites parent(s) to contribute their info
    If a parent begins the FAFSA, the parent(s) invites the student to contribute their info
  2. Students or parents can log in via email invitation or the studentaid.gov dashboard.
  3. Last contributor to complete their portion will have the opportunity to submit the FAFSA

Students will receive a FAFSA Submission Summary from ED once the FAFSA has been processed (for the initial 2024-25 FAFSA’s submitted, this could be late January 2024 before the info is available). Likewise, FAFSA information may not be made available to SKYCTC until late January 2024. Once this information is available, SKYCTC will notify the student of any additional items needed for financial aid consideration.

What are the major changes?

The form now has fewer questions, and more students and parents can easily transfer their financial info from the IRS to the FAFSA. This upgrade makes submitting the FAFSA faster and simpler.

To complete the online FAFSA, everyone must have an FSA ID for access. Ensure the FSA ID is created and confirmed before accessing the FAFSA.

Logging into the 2024-25 FAFSA with an FSA ID involves a two-step authentication process and uses various verification methods (email, text, authentication apps). 

When starting the FAFSA, students will identify parents or spouses contributing financial information. It's crucial to enter their information as it appears in their FSA ID for matching and access to the student's FAFSA.

Each person's FAFSA role corresponds to specific questions. Students, parents, or spouses will see questions relevant to their role. After everyone completes their role-specific questions, the FAFSA can be submitted.

Household size is now known as family size, determined by exemptions claimed on federal tax returns. It can be adjusted to match the current situation.

Families with an adjusted gross income above $60,000 (previously $50,000) or specific schedules must report assets. There are no exemptions for reporting net business or family farm value. Some current FAFSA filers may see an increased SAI due to the inclusion of all business or farm net values, even with no income changes.

Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college and a change in the methodology used to determine aid. The new Student Aid Index (SAI) replaces the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) that was used previously.

The Student Aid Index (SAI) formula will not consider the number in college. This change can affect students with multiple siblings in college, potentially resulting in a higher SAI without any income changes.

Pell Grant eligibility is determined by the SAI and Federal Poverty Tables, accounting for family makeup, size, and income. If a student meets the Poverty Table guidelines for the maximum or minimum Pell award and the SAI calculation, they will receive the higher Pell Grant amount determined by these two separate formulas.

The new SAI formula may yield a negative SAI down to -1500, applicable to non-filer families. However, it won't result in a larger Pell Grant than a zero SAI, and colleges can't award more than the cost of attendance.

Now, you can list up to 20 colleges on the FAFSA, making it more convenient for students applying to over 10 colleges.

Terminology Changes
Old New
Award Letter Aid Offer/Aid Notification
Room & Board Food & Housing
Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) Student Aid Index (SAI)
Parent 1 & 2 Parent/Other Parent
Household Size Family Size
IRS Data Retrieval Direct Data Exchange
Dependency Questions Student Personal Circumstances
Student Aid Report (SAR) FAFSA Submission Summary

*Parents, Students and Spouse are now considered contributors as they are contributing their information & must provide consent to their Federal Tax Information (FTI)
*Situations potentially leading to a Dependency Override are considered Unusual Circumstances
*Situations potentially leading to a Professional Judgment are considered Special Circumstances