FAFSA Simplification: What it Means for You

The FAFSA Simplification & FUTURE Act was passed by Congress in December 2020. The intent of the legislation was to make the financial aid process and eligibility for Federal Pell grants more predictable for low-income students, reduce the number of FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Form questions, streamline the calculation of financial need, expand federal aid eligibility for specific populations and, ultimately improve educational outcomes for low-income students. While some provisions of the legislation went into effect for the 2023-2024 academic year, most will be implemented for the 2024-2025 academic year (Summer 2024/Fall 2024/Spring 2025).  

What Does FAFSA Simplification Mean for You?

1. The FAFSA for the upcoming academic year typically becomes available at fafsa.gov on October 1.  For the 2024-2025 academic year only, the FAFSA will be delayed and opened online December 31, 2023. Colleges and universities, however, will not begin to receive students' 2024-2025 FAFSA records from the U.S. Department of Education until mid-March.  Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education is estimating students will not be able to make corrections to their submitted 2024-2025 FAFSA's until mid-to-late March while schools will be able to make corrections/updates in the weeks following. 

2. Beginning with the 2024-25 year, the FAFSA will be less complex. The number of questions will be reduced from 108 to approximately 36 and prior-prior year federal tax information will be automatically transferred from the IRS' database. All parties whose information will be on the FAFSA (example: parent, step-parent) must provide consent to have their federal tax information transferred. Additionally, all individuals that provide information on the FAFSA must each have their own FSA ID (ex.-in the case of a dependent student, the student, and each parent must now have his/her own FSA ISD).  Individuals should each apply for an FSA ID if they do not have one already in advance of filing the FAFSA.

3. Males between 18-25 years of age will no longer be required to be registered with Selective Service to receive federal financial aid.

4. Historically, the FAFSA calculated a student's EFC (Expected Family Contribution), an indicator of the student's financial need that was used to determine eligibility for need-based federal, state and University aid.  Most notably, a student's EFC had to be below a specific threshold to qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, SEOG and the PA State Grant. The EFC is being replaced with the SAI (Student Aid Index). Federal Pell Grant eligibility will now be determined by family size and family income as it ties to the federal poverty level. You can calculate your SAI and determine Federal Pell Grant eligibility using the U.S. Department of Education's SAI calculator.

5. The EFC (Expected Family Contribution) was calculated based on five primary factors: household size, number in college, prior-prior year taxable and untaxable income and assets, for both the student and, for dependent students, his/her parent(s). The SAI will no longer take into account most sources of untaxed income. The SAI will also not take into account the number in college.  This could impact a student's eligibility for need-based financial aid (i.e.-Pell Grant, SEOG, PA State Grant, Federal Work Study, the subsidy on the Federal Direct Student Loan).  Saint Joseph's University merit scholarships and need-based Regis Grant amounts are set at point of entry and will not be recalculated/reduced in future years regardless of changes in financial need. Students retain their eligibility for up to eight semesters provided they remain a full-time undergraduate, in good academic standing (note--students in direct-entry health profession programs are not eligible for Regis Grants during the professional years of the program). 

6.  In the past, for divorced or separated parent families, the custodial parent (typically the parent the student lived with) provided his/her information on the FAFSA.  Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the parent who provided the greatest financial support (regardless of living arrangements) will be required to list his/her information on the FAFSA.  If financial support is split 50/50 between both parents, the parent who has the higher income is required to provide his/her financial information on the FAFSA. 

The Saint Joseph's University Office of Financial Aid will provide future communication throughout the next year on these upcoming changes and is happy to assist you with the financial aid application process should questions arise.  Additional information can also be found at Federal Student Aid.