FAFSA Simplification

The FAFSA Simplification Act was enacted by Congress as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This new law reduces the number of questions students will have to answer on the FAFSA, makes crucial changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 to expand Pell Grant eligibility, and makes federal student aid more accessible to all students.

Changes to FAFSA

December Release Date

While the FAFSA is typically released on October 1, this year the FAFSA will not be released until December for the 2024-25 school year. The Department of Education has not provided an exact date yet; however, they are required to release the FAFSA by January 1. Plan to complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after it is released. Because of the delay in the release of the FAFSA, financial aid offers for both admitted and returning students will be available later than normal. These delays should be a one-time occurrence with the October 1 release of the FAFSA resuming for the 2025-26 year.

Fewer Questions

The 2024-25 FAFSA will have fewer questions than in previous years. The new FAFSA will also make it easier for students and parents to import their tax information directly from the IRS. This means that you will spend less time manually entering information.

FSA IDs are Required

The FSA ID is FAFSA’s version of a username and password. If you have logged onto the Federal Student Aid website before, you may already have an FSA ID. Previously, an FSA ID was not required in order to fill out or sign the FAFSA. However, this is changing with the 2024-25 FAFSA. All contributors to the FAFSA will be required to have an FSA ID to fill out and/or sign the FAFSA. A contributor is anyone who is asked to provide information on the FAFSA including:

  • The student
  • The student’s spouse (if applicable)
  • A biological or adoptive parent
  • A stepparent if the parent on the FAFSA is remarried

While the 2024-25 FAFSA does not open until December, you can create your FSA ID now. Currently, a Social Security Number (SSN) is required to create an FSA ID; however, parents and other contributors who do not have an SSN will be able to create their own FSA ID when the 2024-25 FAFSA is released.

Changes to Family Contribution

Currently, FAFSA uses the information entered on the application to determine a student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). This number is then used by colleges to determine a student’s need-based financial aid eligibility. The new 2024-25 FAFSA will be replacing the EFC with the Student Aid Index (SAI). Along with having a new name, the SAI will use a new formula to determine financial aid eligibility. This new formula is more streamlined and is designed to expand need-based financial aid eligibility. This means that students may receive new or increased awards compared to previous years. The Federal Student Aid Estimator is a great tool to estimate SAI and some federal aid for the 2024-25 award year.

What can you do to prepare?

Create an FSA ID

FSA IDs will be required for all FAFSA contributors including students and parents. If you do not already have an FSA ID, now is a great time to create one! Creating your FSA ID early will mean you are ready to fill out your FAFSA once it is released and you won’t have to delay filling out the application to create an account. FSA IDs can be created on the Federal Student Aid website. The Federal Student Aid YouTube channel has a helpful video on how to create an FSA ID.

Gather Required Information

While the new FAFSA will have less questions, you may still have to provide some information that isn’t readily available. Here are some examples of information to have ready for when the FAFSA releases:

  • 2022 income tax returns and W-2s in the event tax information cannot be imported
  • Records of investments and assets
  • Child support information (if applicable)
  • Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and other personal information for the student and parent(s)

File Early

Once the FAFSA is released, we recommend filing as soon as possible. We will all be working with a new system, so there may be some challenges in filling out and processing the FAFSA. Filling early will ensure that our office can get your financial aid offer out to you as early as possible.


DateItem Description
December 1Deadline for Early Decision (ED) admits to submit the ED Need-based Financial Aid Form in order to receive an estimated financial aid offer.
December 2023The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is released for 2024-25.
Mid March 2024After the college installs a software update from our vendor, we will be able to start importing FAFSAs into our system. Students who filed will receive a confirmation email at this time that we have received their FAFSA.
Early Spring 2024Financial aid offers for admitted first year and transfer students for Fall 2024 will be released. Financial aid offer letters are mailed to admitted students and also posted electronically to their admission status portal.
Late Spring 2024Financial aid offers for returning students will be posted to Hornet HQ. Students will receive an email notification once their aid is ready to be viewed online.