FAFSA Simplification

The 2024-2025 FAFSA is now available

The FAFSA is now available to complete online at studentaid.gov. If you need assistance with completing it, please join us for one of our Virtual FAFSA Completion Drop-in sessions. Dates and links to the sessions can be found here.

If you missed the live presentation, you can view the recording of the 24-25 FAFSA changes webinar from October 10, 2023.

For a quick FAFSA Simplification summary, view this short video. For more detailed information, continue reading below.

January 2024 update

This week we received an important update from the Department of Education regarding a significant delay in the processing of FAFSA data, indicating that Wooster’s Financial Aid Office will not receive information until mid-March.   

Already completed your FAFSA? Your application will be processed and sent to Wooster in March.  If you need to make updates, you will be able to log into your account once the FAFSA has been processed in March to make the necessary changes.

Still need to complete your FAFSA? You are still able to submit your FAFSA now.  It’s important to complete the process so we can act quickly once the Department of Education releases your results.  You can complete it online at studentaid.gov.

The FAFSA Simplification Act

Significant changes are coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-2025 academic year. 

The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed in December 2020 and makes significant changes to the terminology, the underlying processes and methodologies for determining federal student aid eligibility.

What does the FAFSA Simplification Act do?

  • creates a more streamlined application process
  • expands eligibility for federal financial aid in many instances
  • reduces barriers for certain student populations
  • creates a better user experience in the FAFSA form

Benefits to Students and Families

The Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as the calculated result of completing the FAFSA. Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college and experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid.

In addition to the SAI, the FAFSA Simplification Act is expected to expand the Federal Pell Grant availability to more students. The new eligibility criteria is linked to household size and the federal poverty level. New eligibility formulas and funding are estimated to increase Pell Grant recipients by nearly 15%.

FAFSA Updates


Students and parents will no longer have access to each others’ sections. Each contributor will need to have their own FSA ID to access their section. A contributor is anyone who is asked to provide information on a student’s FAFSA. This could include:

  • Student
  • Student’s spouse (if applicable)
  • Natural or adoptive parent(s)
    • Includes unmarried parents who live together
    • For divorced parents, the parent of record on the FAFSA may change this year, see the Parent of Record section below
  • Step-parent – if the parent of record is remarried at the time the FAFSA is filed

The FAFSA is student driven, so when they complete the FAFSA, they will list the other contributor’s information to invite them to complete their section of the FAFSA. Students will need the contributor’s name, date of birth, Social Security Number (SSN), and e-mail address. To prevent errors in linking contributors sections, we advise double checking each data element before entering. Contributors will then log in to provide their personal and financial information to their section.

Note for parents without a Social Security Number: The Department of Education is creating a process that will verify parent identity without an SSN to allow most users to complete the FAFSA electronically. Our current understanding is that if a parent cannot complete the identity verification to get an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA electronically, they will need to complete a paper FAFSA. More details are expected in the coming months.

Parent of Record

Effective the 2024-2025 award year, parent of record for divorced or separated parents is no longer the parent with whom the student lived with the most in the past 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA. For divorced or separated parents, income and assets are reported for the parent who provides the most financial support, including child support paid, even if the student does not live with that parent.

Parental Income

The income listed on the 2024-2025 FAFSA will be from the 2022 calendar year. How parents completed their taxes that year will determine who needs to be a contributor.

  • Parents who live together – both married or unmarried: Include income from both parents
    • If tax return is “Married – Filing Jointly” only one parent needs to complete the FAFSA
    • If tax return is “Married – Filing Separately”, “Single” or ” Head of Household” both parents need to be contributors to complete the FAFSA
  • Divorced or Separated Parents (parent is NOT remarried): Include income from the parent who provides the most financial support
  • Divorced Parent, but remarried: Include income from both parent and step-parent
    • If tax return is “Married – Filing Jointly” only one parent needs to complete the FAFSA
    • If tax return is “Married – Filing Separately”, “Single” or ” Head of Household” both parent and step-parent need to be contributors to complete the FAFSA
  • Single or Widowed parent: Include income from this parent

Consent to transfer IRS Data to FAFSA

All contributors are required to have an FSA ID and to provide consent to have their Federal Tax Information (FTI) transferred from the IRS, have their tax data used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, and allow the Department of Education to share their tax information with institutions and state higher education agencies for the administration of Federal financial aid. Consent is provided once for the award year and cannot be revoked in that award year. This consent is necessary even if the contributor does not have an SSN, did not file taxes, or filed taxes in another country. If any contributor does not provide consent, the student will not be eligible for Federal financial aid.

There may be situations, like identity theft, where a contributor cannot transfer their FTI from the IRS to the FAFSA. In these situations, the contributor will still be required to provide consent, and then when unable to transfer, they will need to manually enter their financial information.

Changes regarding student’s family

There is no longer a consideration for having siblings in college. Previously, the FAFSA divided the EFC proportionally based on the number of household members in college. The elimination of this “sibling discount” will be the biggest change in aid eligibility for some students. The SAI will not use the number in college as a factor in calculation of eligibility, even though the question is still listed on the FAFSA. The determination to no longer consider number in college was made by Congress and can only be changed by Congress.

Rather than entering your household size on the FAFSA, a student’s household size is based on the number of exemptions on the parent’s tax return. If the family believes this is not accurate, for example: a dependent is claimed by another parent, a previously dependent child has moved out of the household, or the parent has given birth to a sibling, there will be an option to manually enter the updated household size.

Small Businesses and Family Farms

Families with small businesses or family farms will now need to include the value of those businesses as an asset on the FAFSA. The family’s primary residence should be excluded when calculating the value to report.

Pell Grant Changes

The Federal Pell Grant had previously been calculated based solely on the EFC. The FAFSA Simplification Act created a three step process to determine Pell Grant eligibility. Once we receive a FAFSA, we will automatically award Pell grant eligibility based on the steps below.

  1. Review for maximum based on 225% of poverty level for household size
  2. Review for “calculated Pell” award based on the SAI calculated
  3. If not eligible in either of the above, review for minimum Pell based on 325% of poverty level for household size

Where can I find additional information regarding the FAFSA simplification act?

The Federal Student Aid website, studentaid.gov, will continue to be updated as additional details are released. Our office is also available to answer any questions you may have. We can be reached by e-mail at financialaid@wooster.edu or by calling 330-263-2317.