What you need to know about the 2024-25 FAFSA changes to improve financial aid access

Significant changes and improvements are coming to the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. The redesigned and streamlined FAFSA form opens Dec. 31, 2023.

When students file the FAFSA, they may become eligible for scholarships or grants (based on need and merit), work-study programs, or low-interest loans. Some of the most beneficial financial aid funds are first-come, first-served. Students are twice as likely to receive financial help for college if they file the FAFSA early. Historically, the FAFSA has been available beginning October 1 each year. The delayed open date of the 2024-25 FAFSA significantly impacts the need for students to file their FAFSA early since college and university admission application deadlines will remain the same. The State of Texas requires students in their senior year of high school to complete the FAFSA to graduate.

The FAFSA Simplification Act represents a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to offer federal student aid starting with the 2024-2025 academic year. This includes a more streamlined application process with a reduction in the maximum number of questions from 108 to 46 and expanded eligibility for student aid.

A new IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX) will replace the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) built into the FAFSA for importing student, parent, parent spouse, and/or student spouse Federal Tax Information (FTI). Previously, users could enter their tax information manually or use the IRS DRT.

All persons on the FAFSA must consent for the Department of Education to receive tax information or confirmation of non-filing status directly from the IRS. In a minimal number of cases, students and families will have to enter their tax data manually, but for most, that data will be transferred automatically into the application. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions.

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The FAFSA will still request tax information from the prior-prior year, which means students will report 2022 income and assets on the 2024-2025 application. Families with significant reductions in income levels can review the special circumstance process.

Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, and they will experience a change in how eligibility for the federal student aid programs is determined. The new needs analysis formula removes the number of family members in college from the calculation, allows a minimum Student Aid Index (SAI) of -1500, and implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants.

Federal Student Aid has released a Federal Student Aid Estimator to help students find out how much federal student aid they may be eligible for using an estimate of the SAI. Dependency status questions that determine if your parent(s) must complete the FAFSA remain the same.

Before the FAFSA opens, there are a few things students and their parents/guardians can do to prepare.

The first step for both the senior and their parent/guardian is to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. The FSA ID is an electronic signature, one for the student and a different one for the parent (or shared by both parents). There is a one- to three-day time frame for processing the FSA ID, which is required to complete the FAFSA. ​​

Tip: When completing any postsecondary planning, such as FAFSA, students should use a personal, not school-related, email address.

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Collect your personal information and tax forms to make completing the FAFSA easier:

      • Student’s Social Security Card
      • Student’s driver’s license
      • Student’s 2022 W-2 forms
      • Student’s 2022 Federal Income Tax Return
      • Student’s 2022 untaxed income records
      • Student’s current bank statements (or access online to check balance)
      • Parent(s) Federal Income Tax Return
      • Parents(s) 2022 W-2 forms
      • Parents(s) bank statements
      • Parents(s) untaxed income records
      • Parents(s) current business and investment records

    Students classified as Texas Residents who are not eligible to apply for the FAFSA are encouraged to complete the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA).

    If you meet the FAFSA filing requirements, you should submit a completed FAFSA. You do not need to complete both the FAFSA and TASFA. The FAFSA covers federal and state financial aid opportunities.

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