2024-25 FAFSA Simplification

FAFSA Form Updates 2024-25

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your annual application for financial aid at Nebraska and determines whether you qualify for grants, work-study, loans, and some scholarships. The FAFSA Form is typically updated yearly. Significant changes were made to the 2024-25 form.

The 2024-25 FAFSA Form determines your financial aid eligibility for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 terms.

FAFSA Form Simplification

The FAFSA Form changed due to the FAFSA Simplification Act and laws enacted by Congress which streamlined the FAFSA Form application process for students and families, providing an enhanced user experience in completing the form. The changes also expanded financial aid eligibility for some students and new terminology was introduced.

The FAFSA Form introduced the 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 college costs of the student.

Why did the FAFSA Form Change?

The FAFSA Simplification Act was enacted by Congress as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This law reduced the number of questions students will have to answer on the form, made crucial changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (as amended) to expand Pell Grant eligibility, and removed outdated restrictions to make federal student aid more accessible to all students. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 included the following:

Future Act

  • Allows the U.S. Department of Education to automatically obtain federal tax information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for students, parents, and other financial information contributors (such as a spouse or stepparent).
  • Requires consent from students and other financial information contributors separately.
    • Students will need their contributor’s name, date of birth, Social Security Number (SSN), and email address to invite them to complete the required portion of the FAFSA Form. Contributors will need to provide personal and financial information on their section of the FAFSA Form.

FAFSA Form Simplification Act

Introduced significant changes to the FAFSA Form application process, including changes to how students access and complete the application form and changes to the eligibility calculation.

Key Changes to the FAFSA Form

Major changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA Form include the following:

Replaced the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI)

You may notice a different measure of your ability to pay for college. The new formula allows a minimum SAI of -1,500, and implements separate eligibility determination criteria for Federal Pell Grants.

Modified Family Definitions in FAFSA Formulas

Changes how your family size is determined (rather than household size), aligning more with what is reported on tax returns.

Expanded Access to Federal Pell Grants

Eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant is linked to family size and the federal poverty level.

Streamlined the FAFSA Form

The federal government uses data directly from the IRS to calculate the Student Aid Index. The direct data exchange allows the necessary financial information contributors to consent to providing the data separately.

FAFSA Submission Summary

Instead of a Student Aid Report (SAR), you will receive a FAFSA Submission Summary after filing the FAFSA Form.

Other Changes to the FAFSA Form

Some changes may not affect all students, but may impact your eligibility:

  • The new Student Aid Index (SAI) no longer uses the number of students in college in the eligibility formula. This may reduce need-based aid eligibility for current students with siblings in college.
  • The net worth of a business will not be excluded for families with fewer than 100 full-time employees. Applicants will be asked to report the net worth of all businesses, regardless of the size of business.
  • Parents without a Social Security Number (SSN) are able to apply for a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). This allows students with parents who do not have an SSN to submit their FAFSA Form online rather than having to print, sign, and mail in their application.
  • For students whose parents are separated or divorced, the guidance on which parent income to report has changed to the parent who provides the most financial support to the student, rather than the who lives at the student's primary residence.

Timeline for 2025-26 Financial Aid Awarding

The FAFSA will become available by the end of December 2024. Be sure to file as soon as you can, but especially by the May 1 priority date for Nebraska. Students who apply for admission by November 1 and file the FAFSA Form by February 1 will receive a comprehensive scholarship and financial aid offer on February 12. For students filing the FAFSA Form after February 1, financial aid offers will be released on a rolling basis starting February 26.

Prepare for the FAFSA Form

  • Create your FSA ID and assist your contributors in creating their FSA ID.
    • If you have filed before, you will already have an FSA ID.

What Did Not Change?

The following federal financial aid requirements, rights, and responsibilities have not changed or had only minor updates:

  1. The FAFSA remains required annually for federal aid consideration and is available to U.S. Citizens or Eligible Non-Citizens. Learn how to apply for need-based financial aid at Nebraska, which includes creating a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) and completing your FAFSA at fafsa.gov.
  2. Questions introduced on the 2023-24 FAFSA on the Web via a voluntary, post-application survey about the applicant's sex, race, and ethnicity have no effect on federal student aid eligibility and remain only for statistical purposes. The data gathered from these optional questions by the federal government is not shared with the University for each applicant. These questions will also be asked on the 2024-25 FAFSA.
  3. There remain dependency status questions to determine if your parents must provide their information on the FAFSA as a financial information contributor.
  4. The FAFSA form will still utilize prior-prior year tax information. Families that have significant reductions in income due to extenuating circumstances can still request a review of special circumstances. When special circumstances occur that affect your or your family's ability to pay educational expenses, an adjustment to certain data elements on your FAFSA may be made, which may increase your eligibility for federal, state, or institutional financial aid. Not all changes in financial circumstances change aid eligibility.
  5. Federal education loan requirements remain the same.
  6. Student rights and responsibilities have not changed. In addition, federal financial aid regulations (e.g., the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended) require colleges and universities to provide consumer information to prospective and currently enrolled students. These consumer information requirements are all collected in one place for your convenience at https://heoa.unl.edu/. You can learn more about accessibility, accreditation, and affirmation action as well as institutional equity and compliance. Some of the more common student disclosures regarding financial aid for your review, include:
    1. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy: provides details regarding guidelines for continued financial aid eligibility.
    2. Refund policy and Return of Title IV funds: provides details regarding the University refund policy and requirements to return funds to the federal government.

FAFSA Simplification Frequently Asked Questions


What are Contributors on the FAFSA 2025-26?

Contributor is a term introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA form. It refers to anyone asked to provide information on a student's FAFSA form, i.e., the student, the student's spouse, a biological or adopted parent, or the parent's spouse (stepparent). A contributor is not a grandparent, foster parents, legal guardian, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, even if they helped provide for or raise the student. A contributor on the FAFSA form does not mean they are financially responsible for the student's educational costs.

How are Contributors determined?

The student's or parent's answers will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.

What do Contributors need to provide?

These contributors will be invited to complete their portion of the FAFSA form by entering their name, date of birth, Social Security number, and email address. They must also provide personal and financial information in their own sections of the FAFSA form.

What are the steps Contributors must follow?
  • Contributor receives an email informing them that they've been identified as a contributor.
  • Contributor creates a StudentAid.gov account if they don't already have one.
  • Contributor logs in to account using their FSA ID account username and password.
  • Contributor reviews information about completing their section of the FAFSA form.
  • Contributor provides the required information on the student's FAFSA form.
What if I am a Contributor and don't want to provide my information in my student's FAFSA?

Being a contributor does not implicate financial responsibility. However, if a required contributor refuses to provide their information, it will result in an incomplete FAFSA form, and the student will become ineligible for federal student aid.

What if my parents are divorced? Who is the contributor to my FAFSA?

Students who live with a single/divorced/widowed parent and receive most of their support from that parent, will report only one parent on the FAFSA Form. The parent included on the FAFSA Form as a contributor must be the parent that provides the greater portion of the student's financial support. If that primary parent is remarried, the income of that parent's spouse (stepparent) will also be required.

Why does the FAFSA 2025-26 require consent from students and contributors?

According to the Future Act, all students and contributors must provide consent to the following:

  • Have their federal tax information transferred directly into the FAFSA form via direct data exchange with the IRS;
  • Have their federal tax information used to determine the student's eligibility for federal student aid; and
  • Allow the U.S. Department of Education to share its federal tax information with postsecondary institutions and state higher education agencies for use in awarding and administering financial aid.

Important: Even if students or contributors don't have a Social Security Number (SSN), didn't file taxes, or filed taxes outside the U.S., they must still provide consent.

What if I don't want to provide consent as a student or a required contributor?
  • If a student or required contributor doesn't provide consent to have their federal tax information transferred into the FAFSA form, the student will not be eligible for federal student aid—even if they manually enter tax information into the FAFSA form.
  • Information about how federal tax information will be used and the consequences of not providing consent will be included on the FAFSA form.
  • Legal parents must provide consent to transfer federal tax information, even if one of the parents didn't file or had no income. If parents fail to provide consent, the student won't be eligible to receive federal student aid.

Federal Student Aid ID or FSA ID

What is FSA ID, and who needs it?

All students and contributors must create a StudentAid.gov account to complete the FAFSA form online. Students and contributors will use their FSA ID account username and password to log in to their accounts. Even if a parent or spouse contributor doesn't have a Social Security Number, they can still get an FSA ID using their ITIN to fill out their portion of the student's FAFSA form online or by going through an alternative identification process.

Do parents and students need to wait until FAFSA 2025-26 opens in December to create an FSA ID?

No. The FSA ID process is not changing. Parents and students can create the FSA ID.

How do I or other contributors create an FSA ID?

To create an FSA ID, you'll need your Social Security number (SSN). Other information required is full name and date of birth. You'll also need to create a memorable username and password and complete challenge questions and answers to retrieve your account information if you forget it. You'll be required to provide your email address or mobile phone number when you make your FSA ID. Providing a mobile phone number and/or email address that you have access to will make it easier to log in to ED online systems and allow you to verify your FSA ID before using it on the FAFSA and additional account recovery options. This Federal Student Aid video can help create a step-by-step FSA ID.

Do parents without social security numbers also need to have an FSA ID?

Yes. Starting 2024-25, parents and/or spouses who are not U.S. Citizens or Eligible Noncitizens can use their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to create an FSA ID once their taxes are still required.

What if my parents are not in the United States?

Your parents' citizenship status doesn't affect your eligibility for federal aid. They cannot create an FSA ID, but you can complete the FAFSA Form on paper and ask for their signatures. For FAFSA purposes, you must provide your parents' income, no matter where they reside.

My parent remarried. Is the parent's spouse required to get an FSA ID as well?

If the parent you indicate on the FAFSA Form is the parent who remarried, it'll depend on how they filed taxes. If they filed jointly, only one parent needs an FSA ID. If they filed separately, both parents would need their own FSA ID.

Will parents and students need to create a new FSA ID if they have had an FSA ID in the past?

No. You can retrieve your existing FSA ID if you forgot your username and password.

I created an FSA ID at a FAFSA night at my high school and could not use it immediately. Do you recommend creating it a few days before?

We recommend creating your FSA ID a few days before starting the form. FSA IDs made on the day of might work but will not have full functionality yet, like using the Direct Data Exchange (FADDX) to transfer tax information.

Why do I have to set up two-step verification for my StudentAid.gov Account?

Two-step verification, a form of multi-factor authentication (MFA), helps protect your StudentAid.gov account with additional protection from fraud.

So each contributor needs a unique phone number or email for multi-factor authentication?

Yes. For example, a student and parent cannot use the same phone number for multi-factor authentication.

Do both parents need to create FSA ID or just one like before?

This depends on the family's situation. For example, if a student has married parents filing taxes separately, both parents will need to have an FSA ID.

What is the impact if the student and parent already have an FSA ID?

None. Just ensure they are verified and ready to use.

If a parent does not want to or refuses to create an FSA ID, is there an alternative for that parent to provide consent, such as mailing a signed consent page?

There is not a separate signature page. There are two alternative options for contributors to provide consent who do not want to or refuse to create an FSA ID:

  • when the student applies using the paper FAFSA and obtains signatures from all contributors, including the parents, who also affirm their consent, or
  • when the student completes their section and self-reports information for the parent section on the FAFSA form. When the student submits their FAFSA form without the parent's signature, it will be placed in rejected status by the FAFSA Processing System (FPS). The parent can then provide their signature and consent on a paper copy of the FAFSA Submission Summary. This method is not recommended due to complexity and very lengthy processing time.

Consent, Taxes, and Financial Data

What is consent, and why do I have to provide it when completing the FAFSA 2025-26?

The Future Act requires that every contributor on the FAFSA provide consent to share their tax information in the application so that the IRS can share this information with the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). All parties whose Federal Tax Information (FTI) is included on a student's FAFSA form must consent annually. The consent will be required when a student submits a FAFSA, chooses Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) when starting loan repayment, or submits the Total and Permanent Disability discharge (TPD) within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for totally and permanently disabled students. The consent is necessary not only for the U.S. Department of Education to request federal tax information from the IRS but also to use that FTI in the federal student aid application process, as well as do other things such as redisclose that information to certain eligible entities, such as higher education institutions.

What happens if I, as a student, or a spouse or parent, don't want to provide consent on the FAFSA?

If a student, spouse, or parent doesn't provide consent on the FAFSA Form, the Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated, and the student will not be eligible for any federal aid.

What if I had a low income and was not required to file taxes?

According to the IRS tax year 2022, these are the thresholds by filing status. If an independent student (and spouse, if married), or a parent of a dependent student, were not required to file a federal income tax return for 2022, then the student will automatically receive a Student Aid Index (SAI) equal to –1,500. They still need to provide consent when submitting the FAFSA, so the IRS can confirm to Federal Student Aid (FSA) the student, parents, and spouse didn't file taxes.

Will students still be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)?

No. The DRT will no longer exist beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA. After the student, spouse, and/or parent provides consent to the Direct Data Exchange (FADDX), the Federal Tax Information (FTI) will be linked to the application contributor. Federal Student Aid (FSA) will now directly transfer Federal Tax Information (FTI) from the IRS into the FAFSA form as long as the user has provided FSA with the consent to do so. All users identified as required contributors on a particular FAFSA form will be prompted to provide consent for the IRS to use their Federal Tax Information (FTI). This consent is required to retrieve FTI from the IRS to calculate the student's aid eligibility. If any party to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed. However, a Student Aid Index (SAI), which replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), will not be calculated.

Will non-custodial parents be contributors if they have not claimed the child on their taxes?

Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, students will determine which parent to report based on which parent provides the most financial support. It is okay if the parent or parents reported do not claim the student on their taxes. The reported parents will provide consent to transfer their tax data even if they do not claim the student on their taxes.

If a parent remarries, do they have to provide the stepparent's tax information?

Yes. If the parent providing more financial support is remarried, the stepparent's tax information is required.

What if my parent or stepparent does not want to provide their tax information for my FAFSA?

Husker Hub can offer to speak directly with the parent or stepparent to explain why the information is needed and answer any questions, which sometimes puts them at ease about how their sensitive information will be used. However, we cannot provide tax advice.

How do I report small business or farm value as assets on the FAFSA?

Families can consult with their accountant, if applicable, or other financial professional they have access to in order to estimate the value to report. We cannot provide an estimate on how much your business or farm is worth.

My parent is self-employed–do they still need to say they own a business?

Being self-employed shows as income on tax returns. It depends on the type of work to determine whether or not they will have to report any assets associated with their business. Consult a tax or other financial professional for advice.

I and/or my parents or spouse amended our taxes. Will my Federal Tax Information (FTI) be transferred, or do I have to provide a 1040X later to the school?

Beginning in 2024-25, when the student, spouse, parent, and/or stepparent provides consent, the IRS's Federal Tax Information (FTI) will include the information from an amended tax return.

Can I self-report my income on FAFSA?

After you provide consent on the FAFSA, if the IRS cannot transfer your Federal Tax Information (FTI) to your FAFSA application, the application will allow you to self-report it. Self-reporting one's tax information on the FAFSA does not override the requirement for each required contributor to provide consent on the FAFSA form. So, they need to provide consent, and their tax information must be reported, either directly from the IRS or self-reported manually on the FAFSA form.

If a parent of a dependent student or an independent student is a non-filer and has zero wages, do they have to provide consent?

Any individual who is a contributor to the FAFSA Form must provide consent. This includes parents, and independent students, regardless of their tax filing status. Generally, the parents of independent students are not contributors and would, therefore, not need to provide consent.

What happens if a contributor provides consent but doesn't sign the application?

Beginning in 2024-25, there will be only two options for filing a FAFSA form: electronically, through studentaid.gov, or the option to file on paper. Once an application is started online, all parties must complete it online. So that means if a signature is missing, the parent or the contributor that needs to complete their section and/or sign the application must obtain an FSA ID and get into the application and complete their section. There is no option to print a signature page. For this reason, a financial aid administrator will not be able to submit a complete FAFSA form on your behalf because the consent provision requires all contributors to sign the application. Students and parents will be required to have an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA application online. If they choose to mail a paper FAFSA, both will need to provide consent on the paper FAFSA, and both will need to provide signatures and mail the application to the U.S. Department of Education address on the paper application. This method is NOT recommended due to complexity and very lengthy processing time.

In what situations will there be a match with IRS, but IRS wouldn't provide information?

Cases of fraud or identity theft are the most likely reasons for the IRS not providing tax information to the applicant or the contributor. If the contributor has been flagged by the IRS, possibly due to identity theft or a breach of some sort to their information, then an IRS response code will be enabled to provide an explanation.

If a parent does not want to or refuses to create an FSA ID, is there an alternative for that parent to provide consent, such as mailing a signed consent page?

No. There is no longer a separate signature page, and there won't be a consent signature option on paper, either. An alternative option for contributors to provide consent who do not want to or refuse to create an FSA ID is to submit a paper FAFSA form completed by all contributors and mail it to the Federal Student Aid. This method is NOT recommended due to complexity and very lengthy processing time.

Student Aid Index (SAI) and the Federal Pell Grant

What is the Student Aid Index (SAI)?

SAI, or Student Aid Index, is replacing the term Expected Family Contribution, known as EFC. The SAI brings a change in the methodology used to determine aid. The SAI is a number used to determine eligibility for need-based aid. It is calculated using information the student (and contributors, if required) provides on the FAFSA form. The SAI will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) starting in the 2024–25 award year. A student’s SAI can be a negative number down to –1,500.

What is the main difference between the SAI (starting FAFSA 2024-25) and EFC (used until FAFSA 2023-24)?

The Student Aid Index (SAI) represents a change in the methodology used to determine aid. Changes include child support received now counting as an asset instead of income, family farms and small businesses now counting as assets, and the number of family member in college no longer being considered in the need analysis formula. Additional information regarding the SAI formulas can be found in the 2024-25 DRAFT Pell Eligibility and SAI Guide.

How is Pell Grant eligibility determined?

Students may qualify for a maximum Pell Grant based on family size, adjusted gross income, poverty guidelines, and tax filing status. Students qualifying for a maximum Pell Grant will have a Student Aid Index (SAI) between –1,500 and 0. Students who don’t qualify for a maximum Pell Grant may still be eligible if their calculated SAI is less than the maximum Pell Grant award for the award year. The student’s Pell Grant award will be equal to the maximum Pell Grant for the award year minus their SAI. Students whose SAI is greater than the maximum Pell Grant award for the award year may still be eligible for a minimum Pell Grant level based on family size, adjusted gross income, and poverty guidelines.

What if I had a low income and was not required to file taxes?

According to the IRS tax year 2022, these are the thresholds by filing status. If an independent student (and spouse, if married), or a parent of a dependent student, were not required to file a federal income tax return for 2022, then the student will automatically receive a Student Aid Index (SAI) equal to –1,500. They still need to provide consent when submitting the FAFSA, so the IRS can confirm to Federal Student Aid (FSA) the student, parents, and spouse didn't file taxes.

Why are assets different on the 2025-26 FAFSA?

Some financial information previously considered income will be considered as assets. Also, some information not requested previously, like the family’s small business, will no longer be excluded from asset reporting.

If students have a negative SAI, will they get a higher Pell Grant?

Students with a negative or 0 SAI will be eligible for the maximum Pell Grant. The difference is that the negative -1,500 SAI indicates the student has a higher need than the student with 0 SAI, being eligible for other grants, if available, like Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).

If the family size is manually adjusted, will the SAI only be calculated based on the size drawn from the taxes?

The SAI will be based on the family size that the family entered, if different from the taxes. Students may have to provide additional information if selected for verification.

How will Pell Grant be calculated and awarded?

Eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant will no longer be based on enrollment category (e.g., full-time, three-quarter-time, ,etc.) but by enrollment intensity (e.g, the number of credits enrolled as a proportion of full-time)

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