FAFSA Simplification

Simplifying the financial aid application process.

The FAFSA Simplification Act is an initiative by the United States Department of Education to make applying for federal student aid easier for students.

This process is the first major redesign of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process in over 40 years. It represents a significant overhaul of federal student aid, including changes to the FAFSA form, need analysis, storage of federal student aid application data, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in the Title IV programs.

The process for the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) includes some of the changes from the new FAFSA, both of which will be implemented for the 2024–2025 award year. All students must complete either the FAFSA or CADAA to be considered for federal student aid.

Read about changes to the 2024–25 California Dream Act Application.

2024–25 FAFSA Timeline Updates

The 2024–2025 FAFSA is available.

  • The California state financial aid priority deadline has been extended to May 2, 2024.
  • You will receive an email with instructions for accessing your FAFSA Submission Summary (formerly the Student Aid Report) after your 2024–25 FAFSA form is submitted and processed. 
  • UC Berkeley and other schools started to receive some FAFSA applicant information from the Department of Education in mid-March. Schools are now reviewing and processing the FAFSA information they have received.*
  • You will receive an email notification from the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office when your financial aid offer is available for your review in CalCentral.
  • The Department of Education has announced that students will be able to start making corrections to their FAFSA in the first half of April. See the How to Correct or Update Your FAFSA Form page on studentaid.gov for more information.
  • The Department of Education has resolved two critical errors that have been preventing students with mixed status families from submitting the FAFSA. Review the Department of Education’s new tips document for FAFSA Contributor Updates for additional information. If you have a contributor without a SSN who continues to encounter identity verification or other process errors, we recommend you still complete the FAFSA online and finish the student section of the form now so your application process will be faster once the issue is resolved. Submitting a paper application could only create additional delays. 
  • If you have a question or concern about the FAFSA, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
  • The 2024–25 California Dream Act Application is available online.

*Please note: until UC Berkeley receives and processes your form, we won’t be able to answer questions about your 2024–25 aid eligibility or status.

We will continue to update this webpage as we receive more information from the Department of Education. This webpage was last updated April 2, 2024.

Benefits to Students, Families, and Borrowers

Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college and experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid. The benefits of the updates to the FAFSA include:

  • A more streamlined application process
  • Expanded eligibility for federal student aid
  • Expanded eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant
  • Reduced barriers for certain student populations
  • A better user experience for the FAFSA form
  • Enhanced data sharing with IRS to simplify the applicant’s experience

FAFSA Simplification at a Glance

In 2020, the FAFSA Simplification Act was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

  • Full implementation of major provisions will occur during the 2024–2025 award year (starting Fall 2024).
  • In November 2023, the Department of Education announced that the 2024–2025 FAFSA would open by December 31, 2023. 
  • In December 2023, the Department of Education announced a soft launch for the new FAFSA from December 2023 through late January 2024.
  • On January 2, 2024, the California Student Aid Commission announced the release of the 2024–25 California Dream Act Application (CADAA).

Changes to the FAFSA

Changes to FAFSA questions and need analysis:

  • The number of questions will be reduced and the application will maximize the use of previously collected data.
  • Methodology will be introduced to calculate and determine applicant eligibility with a new need-analysis formula.
  • The Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The SAI is a number that determines each student’s eligibility for certain types of federal student aid.
  • The Cost of Attendance (COA) will be the starting point for calculating the SAI. COA includes direct costs (charges for which the university bills you directly) and estimated indirect costs (living expenses) to fund educational expenses for a year.

Changes to data collection and support for completing the FAFSA form:

  • Anyone asked to provide information on the aid application—student, spouse, student’s parent(s) and/or stepparents(s)—is called a “contributor” to the application.
  • Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents (contributors) will now need to provide their consent to provide their Federal Tax Information (FTI) in the new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information section of the FAFSA in order to be eligible for federal student aid.
    • A Direct Data Exchange (DDX) with the IRS will replace what is currently known as the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
    • If any contributor to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed; however, a Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated so the student will not be eligible to receive Title IV federal student aid.
  • The Custodial Parent on your FAFSA will be the parent(s) who provided you with more financial support, instead of the parent(s) with whom you lived more during the past 12 months.
  • Foster, homeless, and unaccompanied youth—as well as applicants who cannot provide parental information—will be able to complete the form with a provisional independent student determination and receive a provisional calculated SAI.
  • Resources for completing the FAFSA form will be expanded to the 11 most common languages spoken in the United States.

Changes to FAFSA processing and submission:

  • There will be two-step verification and all FAFSA contributors must have an FSA ID to log into the online form at StudentAid.gov. There will be a new process to get an FSA ID (StudentAid.gov account) for parents and spouses without a Social Security number.
  • Applicants will be asked to report their sex, race, and ethnicity on the FAFSA itself, but students will be offered a choice of “Prefer Not to Answer.” Schools and state agencies won’t see responses to these questions on the FAFSA.
  • Students will be able to list up to 20 schools on their FAFSA via the online application (previously capped at 10 schools).

Changes to Calculating Your Aid Eligibility

Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, and they will experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid. Some key changes include:

  • The new FAFSA process will consider the cost of attendance (COA) along with the new Student Aid Index (SAI) and other financial assistance (OFA) when determining financial need.
  • The new need-analysis formula:
    • removes the number of family members in college from the calculation,
    • allows a minimum SAI of -1,500,
    • implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants based on federal poverty levels and family size.
  • Child support received will be included in assets and not as untaxed income.
  • Families who own a small business/farm that also serves as primary residence will now have assets of that business/farm considered in their need-analysis calculation.

Resources for the 2024–25 FAFSA

Visit 2024–25 FAFSA Form Launch for up-to-date information from Federal Student Aid. Find additional resources below.

Change Highlights for the Updated FAFSA 

These topic-based, downloadable resources provide details about specific areas of change in the 2024–25 FAFSA. 

Support from Federal Student Aid (FSA) for Completing the Updated FAFSA

If you encounter difficulties while completing the FAFSA form, you can check for known issues shared with the Department of Education. 

If you have a question or concern about the FAFSA, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center

 

WEBINAR: New Year, New FAFSA: Unpacking the FAFSA Simplification Act

In January 2024, we hosted a webinar covering the U.S. Department of Education’s major updates to the 2024-25 FAFSA form. Join us to learn more about these changes.


Find answers to frequently asked questions about the FAFSA Simplification and updates for the 2024–25 FAFSA.

General FAFSA Simplification FAQS

FAFSA Form Completion and Submission FAQs

Consent and Data Sharing FAQs

Aid, Grant, and Scholarship Changes FAQs