Simplifying the financial aid application process: the FAFSA Simplification Act is an initiative by the United States Department of Education to make applying for federal student aid easier for students.
This is the first major redesign of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process in over 40 years. It represents a significant overhaul of federal student aid, including the FAFSA form, need analysis, storage of federal student aid application data, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in the Title IV programs.
The process for the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) will include some of the changes from the new FAFSA, both of which will be implemented for the 2024–2025 award year. All students must complete either the FAFSA or CADAA to be considered for student aid.
We recommend you watch the Department of Education's playlist of short helpful YouTube videos explaining what you need to know.
We also encourage you to read these really helpful tips for preparing to fill out your FAFSA: Pro Tips for the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form
2024-2025 FAFSA Deadlines
California has published April 2nd as the priority filing deadline for 2024-2025. UCSB is independently monitoring FAFSA Issue Alerts, and is prepared to make exceptions for students who are unable, through no fault of their own, to submit their FAFSA by this date.
2024-2025 FAFSA Timeline
In a typical year the FAFSA is available to students on October 1st, with data being sent to schools shortly thereafter. This year the FAFSA was released to students at the very end of December. There was a soft launch, with limited availability for the first week. The FAFSA is now broadly available, but students will not be able to submit any corrections until mid-March. Additionally, ED had originally planned to send FAFSA application results to schools in late-January. ED has since revised this timeline, and is currently expecting to send results to schools by mid-March. FAFSA Availability and timeline.
2024-2025 FAFSA Issues
There is currently an issue preventing contributors without a Social Security number (SSN) from starting or accessing the 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Until it’s resolved, the student can follow the steps to submit your form if you have a required contributor without an SSN. IMPORTANT: Following these instructions will result in an incomplete rejected FAFSA submission that must be corrected at a later date.
2024-2025 Financial Aid Offers (Newly Admitted Students)
FAFSA data may not be available when Admissions decisions are released. In anticipation of this, we have been developing a new Financial Aid Offer tool. In the case that FAFSA data is not available, this tool will be accessible through the Applicant Portal and will ask students to answer 8-10 questions in order to receive a Financial Aid Offer (e.g. questions to determine dependency status, parent income, student income, assets, Student Aid Index or SAI, etc.). This offer will be a very accurate and reliable estimate of aid eligibility, assuming the answers given match the student’s actual FAFSA.
Separately, UCOP has taken over development of a systemwide Financial Aid Calculator. This tool will be available in late-March and is similar to the Net Price Calculator
we currently publish to provide estimates for prospective students. Unlike UCSB’s Financial Aid Offer tool, this calculator will be public facing, and will calculate an estimated SAI based on a more extensive set of questions. Unfortunately, this tool will not include estimates for Middle Class Scholarship (MCS), Promise or Regents Scholarships, or other campus-specific awards. While it is a good alternative for students who are unable to complete a FAFSA (see below), UCSB’s Financial Aid Offer tool will provide more accurate estimates with fewer questions.
2024-2025 Financial Aid Award Letters (Continuing and Newly Enrolled Students)
UCSB typically makes official Award Letters available to students in late June or early July. Currently we do not anticipate any change to this timeline. Continuing students should also submit their FAFSA by the April 2nd
priority filing deadline, if possible. There are significant changes to the underlying eligibility calculations by the FAFSA this year that could affect a continuing student’s eligibility. In general, we are expecting to see a marginal increase in Pell-eligible students. However, some students may see a decrease in their financial aid eligibility, particularly those who have siblings enrolled in college. Previously the FAFSA divided the Parent Contribution between the number of siblings enrolled in college. Moving forward, this will no longer be the case.
FAFSA Simplification Benefits to Students, Families, and Borrowers
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. The benefits of FAFSA simplification include:
- A more streamlined application process
- Expanded eligibility for federal student aid
- Expanded eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant
- Reduced barriers for certain student populations
- A better user experience for the FAFSA form
- Enhanced data sharing with IRS to simplify the applicant’s experience
Changes to the FAFSA
- The number of questions will be reduced and the application will maximize the use of previously collected data.
- Students will be able to list up to 20 schools on their FAFSA via the online application.
- The Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
- The Cost of Attendance (COA) will be the starting point for calculating the SAI. COA includes direct costs (charges for which the university bills you directly) and estimated indirect costs (living expenses) to fund educational expenses for a year.
- 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.
- Anyone asked to provide information on the aid application—student, spouse, student’s parent(s) and/or stepparents(s)—is called a “contributor” to the application.
- Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents (contributors) will now need to provide their consent to provide their Federal Tax Information (FTI) in the new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information section of the FAFSA for federal student aid eligibility.
- A direct data share with the IRS will replace what is currently known as the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
- If any contributor to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed. However, a Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated.
- The Custodial Parent on your FAFSA will be the parent(s) who provided you with more financial support, instead of the parent(s) with whom you lived more during the past 12 months.
- There will be two-step verification and all FAFSA contributors must have an FSA ID to log into the online form. There will be a new process to get an FSA ID for parents and spouses without a Social Security number.
- Applicants will be asked to report their sex, race, and ethnicity on the FAFSA itself, but students will be offered a choice of “Prefer Not to Answer.” Schools and state agencies won’t see responses to these questions on the FAFSA.
- Resources for completing the FAFSA form will be expanded to the 11 most common languages spoken in the United States.
Changes to Calculating Your Aid Eligibility
Students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, and they will experience a change in the methodology used to determine aid.
- The formula for calculating the Student Aid Index (SAI) is: COA – SAI = financial need.
- The new need-analysis formula:
- removes the number of family members in college from the calculation,
- allows a minimum SAI of -$1,500,
- implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants based on federal poverty levels and family size.
- Child support received will be included in assets and not as untaxed income.
- Families who own a small business/farm that also serves as primary residence will now have assets of that business/farm considered in their need-analysis calculation.
Here are some helpful handouts summarizing some of the major changes:
Anyone asked to provide information on the aid application—student, student’s spouse, student’s parent(s) and/or stepparents(s)—is called a “contributor” to the application. Contributors are required to provide consent and approval for federal tax information (FTI) along with their signature on the FAFSA form.
- The student applying for aid is always a contributor.
- A student who is a dependent will have at least one parent as a contributor.
- An independent student may not have contributors other than themselves.
- For independent students who are married and filed taxes separately for the reporting tax year, their spouse is considered a contributor.
Direct data share with the IRS will replace what is currently known as the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). This allows the IRS to directly provide Federal Tax Information (FTI) for contributors to an applicant’s FAFSA.
Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents (any contributors) will now need to provide their consent to provide their Federal Tax Information (FTI) in the new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information section of the FAFSA for federal student aid eligibility. Once given, consent lasts for that application year; consent will need to be given for all contributors every year the applicant submits a FAFSA.
It is vital that all contributors provide consent for direct data share. If any contributor to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed. However, a Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated, so the student will not be eligible to receive Title IV federal student aid.
The new FAFSA form will include a “Parent Wizard,” an interactive worksheet that helps the applicant to determine which parent or parents they should be planning to include on their application.
- If the parents are married and their tax filing status was "married filing jointly” for the reporting year, then only one parent needs to create an FSA ID and provide consent on the FAFSA. Providing consent allows both parents' tax information from their tax return to be retrieved from the IRS.
- If the parents are married and their tax filing status was "married filing separately” for the reporting year, then they will both need to create an FSA ID and will both need to provide consent on the FAFSA, since their tax information is provided on separate tax returns.
- If the parents are separated or divorced, the Custodial Parent will need to create an FSA ID and provide consent on the FAFSA.
For dependent students, the Custodial Parent will be the parent(s) who provided the most financial support, instead of the parent(s) with whom the student lived more during the past 12 months. If both parents provided an exact equal amount of financial support, then this will typically be the parent with greater income or assets. The Custodial Parent will need to create an FSA ID to provide their information for the student’s FAFSA.
Each contributor will be asked to provide consent in a section of the FAFSA application form that provides details about what information is shared. When completing the FAFSA, students will be able to invite contributors to complete their section of the form by providing an email address and basic information for the contributor. That contributor (parent or spouse) will need to log in to the form with their FSA ID and will be able to consent to the data exchange. Alternatively, parents may start a FAFSA form on behalf of their student and invite the student to complete their section.
An FSA ID is the Account Username and Password needed to file a FAFSA form and used to log in to all Federal Student Aid products and tools on StudentAid.gov. There will be two-step verification for the FAFSA and all contributors must have an FSA ID to log into the online form.
Students and other contributors register for an FSA ID
through the federal student aid website. Most continuing students will have created an FSA ID to file their FAFSA in previous years.
Every contributor to an applicant’s FAFSA form will need to create an FSA ID in order to provide consent for data share with the IRS. Federal Student Aid (FSA) recommends all parents create an FSA ID.
If you are currently married but did not file taxes jointly in the year 2022, then yes, your spouse will need an FSA ID to file their part of the FAFSA.
Yes, if your contributor doesn’t have an SSN, they can still create an account if one of the following statements is true:
I am a parent or spouse of a student who is applying for aid, and I don’t have an SSN.
I am a citizen of the Freely Associated States and need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form online.
While creating their FSA account, they’ll need to answer a few knowledge-based questions to verify their identity. If they answer these questions correctly, they’ll be able to use their account immediately. If not, they will be prompted to call Customer Service at 1-800-433-3243 to initiate the process for submitting identity verification documents. Here is a helpful document with step-by-step instructions for creating an FSA ID without an SSN in Spanish.
Yes, contributors will need to consent to direct data share with the IRS for the FAFSA every year, but only once a year when completing the form. Once data is exchanged with the IRS, consent will not be able to be revoked.
Yes. Even if a tax return has not been completed, the applicant and all other contributors must provide consent in order for the student to be considered eligible for federal financial aid. Note that if taxes were not filed and no filing extension has been obtained, the applicant may not be eligible for Title IV federal student aid.
Yes. Throughout the 2024-2025 FAFSA, there are several opportunities to update your consent approval. You can log in to StudentAid.gov
and update your consent on your dashboard.
The applicant and other contributors will each have their own section of the FAFSA form to complete. According to the Department of Education, much of the applicant’s tax return information, including information from their spouse and parents, will come directly from the IRS and will not be viewable by the student and other contributors.
Applicants with unique circumstances (like international students or families navigating identity fraud) will still need to provide consent for direct data exchange with the IRS. For instances where income and tax information cannot be obtained directly from the IRS, the applicant would have to manually enter the necessary information into the FAFSA, and that manual entry may be subject to verification.
Yes. Foreign tax filers can enter tax information manually on their student's FAFSA.
If you are determined to be a Dependent Student, based on the information you've added to your 2024-2025 FAFSA, and your parent refuses to provide their information, then you can indicate that you would like to be considered for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is the only federal financial aid that you can be considered for without your parent's information.