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.

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).

The FAFSA application and delivery system is changing for 2024-25.  As a result, the application is not expected to be available until December 31. To accommodate this later availability, we are extending our FAFSA priority filing date for returning students to April 1, 2024. Please stay tuned for more details as they are released. 

What is Changing on the 2024-2025 FAFSA?

Key Changes:

This short video showcases the changes. 

  • Availability – the 2024-2025 FAFSA is expected to become available on December 31, 2023. Next year, the 2025-2026 FAFSA form will resume opening annually on October 1. 
  • The FAFSA will reduce the maximum number of questions from 108 questions to 46. 
    • The online FAFSA form is dynamic, so 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.
  • 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.
  • All 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. 
    • NOTE: If you do NOT opt into the data exchange the student will NOT be eligible for federal student aid.
  • Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation
  • 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 Emerson students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.
  • Some students will automatically receive 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 case of divorce 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.
  • The value of Family Farms and Small Businesses must be reported as assets
    • 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.
  • New terminology 

New Terminology/acronyms – you will notice new terminology and acronyms being used in the application and aid eligibility process:

  • Contributor: anyone who is asked to provide information on the FAFSA – student, student spouse, parent(s), and stepparent(s) for example.
    • 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.
  • Consent: each contributor will now need to provide their consent to their Federal Tax Information (FTI) being included in the FAFSA, even if they did not file a U.S. tax return.
  • SAI: Student Index Aid (SAI) replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  • FTI: Federal Tax Information (FTI) transferred directly from the IRS. 
  • DDX: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will be IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX)
  • FSS: The Student Aid Report (SAR) will be FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS)

What Isn’t Changing on the 2024-2025 FAFSA?

While the FAFSA 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 Emerson College students and federal student loan limits will not change.
  • The FAFSA will still be required every year for consideration of federal and state financial aid as well as institutional need based aid.
  • Dependency status questions that determine if your parent(s) must complete the parent portion of your FAFSA will remain the same.
  • The FAFSA 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 a special circumstance (appeal) application.
  • The questions regarding an applicant’s gender, race, and ethnicity will have no effect on federal student aid eligibility and are included for statistical purposes and data collection only. Colleges and Universities will not receive this data from the FAFSA.


Additional information can be found at studentaid.gov


This FAQ will develop as information is available.

How do I complete the FAFSA?

The new FAFSA will be completed the same way you have previously completed the FAFSA, which is at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa

Students, spouses, parents, and preparers can complete an application online and send it directly to the FAFSA Processing System. If the student has applied the prior year, certain data will be prefilled in the FAFSA and will reduce the time it takes to fill out the new form. An FSA ID is necessary to log in to the online FAFSA form. The student, their spouse (if applicable), and their parents can electronically sign the FAFSA form but must do so with their own FSA ID. A verified email address or cell phone number can be used instead of the username. Users can create an FSA ID online quickly and securely.

When can I submit my FAFSA for the 2024-2025 academic year?

The FAFSA for the 2024-2025 academic year is expected to be available on December 31, 2023. It will resume its regular available date of October 1 starting in 2024. 

Do my parents need an FSA ID?

Every contributor – anyone (student, the student’s spouse, a biological or adoptive parent, or the parent’s spouse) who’s required to provide information on the FAFSA form – will need an FSA ID to access and complete their section of the online form.

What is the Student Aid Index (SAI)?

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The SAI will differ from the EFC in several ways:

  • Reduction in the number of income items and allowances against income.
  • Significant change to the assets that included and excluded.
  • Changes the family size definition and removes the number in college from the equation (this question is still asked on the form).
  • Allows for a negative SAI up to -1500.
  • Implements separate Pell Grant eligibility determination.
  • Removal of alternate SAI’s for enrollment periods less than 9 months.

The following formula is used to help calculate your financial aid.

Need = Cost of Attendance (COA) – Student Aid Index (SAI) – Other Financial Assistance (OFA)

When can I expect my Financial Aid Package?

New students who plan to begin classes at Emerson College in the fall of 2024 should complete a FAFSA form as soon as it becomes available in December. Our goal is to send financial aid packages to new incoming students in February/March/April. 

Returning and Continuing Emerson College students should complete a FAFSA form as soon as possible. Our goal is to send financial aid packages to students in April/May.

The Emerson College Financial Aid Office will not, however, be receiving any electronic information of data until the end of January (exact date TBD).

How can I prepare for the changes to the 2024 FAFSA?

  1. Create your FSA ID
    1. Have your 2022 tax documents ready to go come December! Filling out the FAFSA can be a great winter break activity. It will be important to note that each contributor can complete only their part of the FAFSA (student or parent). The second contributor will receive an email to login and complete their part once the first contributor is finished and invites them.
    2. FSA ID, which serves as a digital signature to complete the FAFSA and sign electronically. Parents wishing to sign electronically will also need an FSA ID. If a parent is not eligible to receive an FSA ID, they can print and sign the signature page.
    3. A new process is being created for parents without a Social Security Number (SSN) to obtain an FSA ID by the Department of Education. The process has not been finalized yet but we will update this page when it becomes available.
    4. The FSA ID will be used for future years. Be sure to keep track of your information.
    5. Watch this video to learn how to create your FSA ID.
  2. Identify who the parent is on the FAFSA for 2024
    1. 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.
    2. Watch this video to learn who is a contributor on the new FAFSA form
  3. For an estimate of your federal financial aid for 2024-2025, you can use the Federal Student Aid Estimator on the Federal Student Aid website. This tool estimates the Student Aid Index (SAI) for 2024-2025 and the federal aid for which you may qualify.
  4. Complete the FAFSA as quickly as possible once it opens.

What happens if I have a negative SAI?

The new SAI formula may yield a negative SAI down to -1500, applicable to non-filer families. However, it won't result in a larger Pell Grant than a zero SAI, and colleges can't award more than the cost of attendance. A negative SAI will be treated the same as a SAI of 0 in the aid eligibility calculation.

Helpful Hints

  • Apply early. Do not wait until the last minute to complete the financial aid application materials. An early start will leave time to collect information, ask questions, and solve problems.
  • Read instructions and follow directions carefully. Completing your FAFSA inaccurately will delay your financial aid.
  • Create a personal financial aid file to keep copies of all documents.
  • The Office of Financial Aid may request additional documents to support your application. Don’t mail tax forms or other documents unless specifically asked to do so. If requested, upload these documents in the secured SFS portal
  • Carefully read all correspondence from the Office of Financial Aid. Note that Emerson email is the official means of communication at Emerson College.
  • Make sure all documents submitted are complete, accurate, and signed as required.
  • Respond promptly to all requests for additional information.
  • Include the student’s name and Emerson College ID# on all documents submitted.