FAFSA Simplification is here!
FAFSA Simplification is the first major redesign of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process in 40 years. The FAFSA will feature fewer questions, fewer requirements, and retrieve tax information using a direct data exchange from the IRS instead of the previous IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
What is changing?
The FAFSA is introducing the new term contributor, which refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s FAFSA form, including the student, the student’s spouse, a biological or adopted parent, or the parent’s spouse. Being a contributor does not imply responsibility for the student's college costs.
Students will need the contributor’s name, date of birth, Social Security Number (SSN), and email address to invite them to complete the required portion of the FAFSA. For those contributors without a SSN(hyperlink to information on how to apply for identity purposes)
Contributors will need to provide personal and financial information on their section of the FAFSA.
If your parents are divorced or separated, the contributing parent(s) is the parent (and their spouse, if remarried) who provided the greater portion of your financial support during the 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA. It is not automatically the parent you primarily lived with during the past 12 months. If both of your parents provided equal financial support to you during the 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA, the contributing parent is whichever parent (and their spouse, if remarried) has the greater income and assets.
All Contributors—student, student's spouse (if married), and student's parents(s) (if a dependent student)—must provide consent to have tax data transferred directly from the IRS to the FAFSA. If consent is not provided by all parties, the student will not be eligible for federal financial aid. In previous years, transferring IRS data was optional. It is now required.
What else is changing?
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The need analysis formula to determine financial aid, formerly known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), will now be referred to as the Student Aid Index (SAI). Unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number.
Small businesses and family farms are now considered assets.
Number of family members in college
The number of family members in college will still be asked on the FAFSA, but it will be excluded from the federal and state financial aid calculation.
Student Aid Report (SAR)
The Student Aid Report (SAR) will now be referred to as the FAFSA Submission Summary. This is the summary submission document you receive after completing the FAFSA.
Foster, homeless, and unaccompanied youth
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 calculated SAI. Schools may be in contact for additional information.
Number of schools listed
Students can list up to 20 schools on their FAFSA via the online application.
Student's family size
There are modifications of family definitions in FAFSA and how a student’s family size is determined. It is now based on dependency status, marital status, and federal tax information we received from the IRS. It includes persons reported on the student’s (and, if the student is dependent, the parent’s) 2022 federal tax return. Students/Parents will be allowed to update to reflect a more accurate representation of family size.
Federal Pell Grant
Federal Pell Grant eligibility is expanded to more students and will link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level.
What does this mean for you?
Returning students will notice that the process has been streamlined, and although they may struggle at first with some of the new terminology, hopefully the benefits of the simplified form, outweigh any difficulties getting acclimated to the new process.
Although the FAFSA is available now in a soft launch phase, colleges won’t be receiving any completed applications until mid-March. This means that you can and should complete your FAFSA as soon as you are able to do so, but we won’t be able to answer questions about your award until after we start receiving the information from the Department of Education.
For contributors without a SSN:
STEP 1: Visit StudentAid.gov, select “Create Account” and complete all steps, including answering 1-4 knowledge-based verification questions via TransUnion®.
STEP 2: Upon completing the Create Account process, you will see a confirmation page with the results of your identity verification. If you fail the TransUnion® process, you will be informed that FSA was unable to verify your information and you must contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-433-3243.
Note: You will also receive an email from FSA informing you to call FSAIC for next steps and verify your identity.
STEP 3: Once you contact FSAIC, FSA will create a case number and send you a verification email, which will include guidance on how to submit copies of unexpired acceptable documentation (listed below) to verify your identity. You will also be required to submit an attestation and validation of identity form along with your approved identity documentation. This form will be available on https://studentaid.gov/forms-library.
Acceptable Documents to Establish an Individual’s Identity:
Provide one (1) of the following documents to establish identity:
- U.S. Driver’s License
- U.S. State/City Identification Card
- Foreign Passport
One (1) set of documents below to establish identity:
- Municipal Identification Cards + utility bill
- Community ID + utility bill
- Consular Identification Cards/Matricula Consular + utility bill
STEP 4: Upon receipt of the email that FSA was unable to verify your identity, you will need to submit one or a combination of your acceptable documentation from the list above and a signed attestation form to: IDVerification@ed.gov
STEP 5: FSA will review your submitted documentation and signed attestation form to ensure it is acceptable and matches the account information provided during the Create Account process. If there is a successful match, the Department will finalize the account creation. You will receive an email indicating your identity has been verified and that you may now use your account username and password (FSA ID) to log in at StudentAid.gov and complete applications for student financial assistance programs.
Note: An individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) cannot be used in place of the SSN.