What FAFSA Simplification Means for You

Federal Student Aid is making big changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024–2025 aid year.

Passed by Congress in 2020, the FAFSA Simplification Act represents a significant overhaul of the awarding and processing of federal student aid. This change includes the FAFSA form, the need analysis that determines federal aid eligibility, changes in terminology, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in federal student aid programs.

2024–2025 FAFSA Available in December 2023

Historically, the FAFSA form has been made available beginning October 1 each year. However, because of significant changes to the application and processing, the 2024–2025 FAFSA will not be available until sometime in December 2023. While this date may change, any updates will be posted here once announced.

When can I expect my award letter?

New students who plan to begin classes at UNE in the summer of 2024 or fall of 2024 should complete a FAFSA form as soon as it becomes available in December. Returning UNE students should complete a FAFSA form as soon as possible. Due to software updates necessary to process award letters we are unsure of when we will be able to send awards. Our goal is to send new undergraduate students’ awards letters in March and all other student populations in April.

What is changing with the FAFSA

There are a number of benefits of the FAFSA Simplification Act, including a more streamlined application process, a better user experience, expanded eligibility for federal student aid, and reduced barriers for certain student populations (e.g., homeless and unaccompanied youth, incarcerated students, English language learners, and students from low-income backgrounds).

Some fundamental changes include, but are not limited to:

The FAFSA form will be shorter and more user-friendly

The FAFSA form will reduce the maximum number of questions from 108 to 46. And because the online FAFSA form is dynamic, some students won't even be presented with all 46 questions. This streamlined format will simplify the application process and make it less daunting for students and their families.

Students may list up to 20 colleges

Previously, the FAFSA form only allowed students to list up to 10 colleges and universities.

The FAFSA form will be available in more languages

Currently, the FAFSA form is only available in English and Spanish. The 2024–25 application will be expanded to include the 11 most common languages spoken by English learner students and their parents.

Applicants will be required to use the IRS Direct Data Exchange

Previously, users had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning with 2024–25, all persons on the FAFSA form will be required to use the IRS Direct Data Exchange to share tax information or confirm non-filing status. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA form and reduces the number of questions to be answered. If you do NOT opt into the data exchange the student will NOT be eligible for federal student aid.

All “contributors” must provide financial information

A contributor — a new term being introduced on the 2024–25 FAFSA — refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student's form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student's or parent's answers on the FAFSA form will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.

Contributors will receive an email informing them that they've been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don't already have one) to provide the required information on the student's FAFSA.

Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student's education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA form or the application will be incomplete and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.

The number in college will not be used to calculate SAI

Previously, the FAFSA form calculated the number of household members attending college into the EFC, dividing it proportionately to determine federal aid eligibility. Beginning with the 2024–25 FAFSA, the application will still ask how many household members are in college, but your answer will not be calculated into the SAI. As such, undergraduate UNE students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.

Some students will automatically be awarded a Pell Grant

Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will see their students receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Minimum Pell Grants will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.

The parent responsible for submitting the FAFSA form in cases of divorce or separation has changed

For dependent students, financial information was previously needed from the parent(s) the student had lived with the most in the last 12 months. With the new FAFSA, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student.

Family farms and small businesses must be reported as assets

When required, families must now report the value of their small business or family farm. If the family farm includes the principal place of residence, applicants should determine the total net value of all farm assets and subtract the net value of their principal residence to determine the final value of their farm assets.

What isn’t changing?

While the FAFSA application is receiving an update and the aid eligibility calculation has been revised, there are a number of aid-related matters that will not change.

  • The general types of aid available to UNE students and federal student loan limits will not change.
  • The FAFSA form will still be required for consideration of federal and state financial aid every year.
  • Dependency status questions that determine if your parent(s) must complete FAFSA will remain the same.
  • The FAFSA form will still request tax information from the prior-prior year, which means you'll report 2022 income and assets on your 2024-25 application. Families with significant reductions in income can consider submitting an appeal.
  • UNE admission application deadlines will not change.
  • The questions regarding an applicant's sex, race, and ethnicity will have no effect on federal student aid eligibility and are included for statistical purposes and data collection only. (In fact, UNE won't even receive this data from the FAFSA form.)

UNE Office of Student Financial Services is dedicated to providing timely updates to students, families, and our community. Due to the significant amount of changes that are occurring, portions of our website may not yet be 100% accurate for the 2024–2025 academic year. We'll continue to update this page as we receive more information from the Department of Education and Federal Student Aid, and appreciate your patience as we work to implement the changes brought by the FAFSA Simplification Act.