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FASFA Simplification Act

Chelsea Lojano

The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021. The law represents a significant reconstruction of the process and systems used to award federal student aid starting with the 2024-25 award year.

The main goals of the FAFSA Simplification Act are to make it accessible to more people and simplify the process. The law will affect every state using FAFSA data to award state grant aid and every school participating in federal student aid programs.

The most apparent change is the date the FAFSA form will be available. The 2024-25 FAFSA form will be available in December 2023, not Oct. 1, like in past years.

CUNY students received an email about updates to the FAFSA form due to the law sent by the Financial Aid Services Team. The email detailed a number of important changes to note.

The FAFSA Simplification Act requires schools to transition from the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, to the Student Aid Index, SAI.

The EFC measures students’ and family’s ability to pay for college. In comparison, the SAI is a number that determines a student’s eligibility for certain types of federal aid using the information provided in the FAFSA form. The SAI is used by schools similarly to the EFC, except that the need analysis formula it operates has changed.

Changes made to the need analysis formulas include the number of family members in college, which will be removed from the financial aid eligibility calculation. The SAI can also be a negative number, with a minimum of -1,500 rather than EFC’s minimum of 0.

The transition from the EFC to the SAI will provide more insight to financial aid administrators when allocating aid to students, especially those in challenging situations.

The law also expands access to Federal Pell Grants so more students can be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. For instance, it will link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level. Furthermore, incarcerated students will be able to receive a Federal Pell Grant.

Contributors without a Social Security Number can now apply for a Federal Student Aid ID, speeding up FAFSA processing time as they can now submit the form online.

There has also been a change in how a student’s family size is determined to align more with the number of individuals reported as dependents on the applicant’s or applicant’s parents’ U.S. tax return.

The FAFSA form has been streamlined by the FAFSA Simplification Act in many ways. Where possible, the law mandates that the Federal Pell Grant eligibility and SAI be calculated by data received directly from the IRS.

The law also removes questions about selective service registration and drug convictions. At the same time, they are adding questions about applicants’ sex, race, and ethnicity which don’t affect federal student aid eligibility.

As a result, the 2024-25 FAFSA form will look and feel much different from previous years. According to the goals outlined in the law, students and applicants can expect it to be a smoother process and get a more accurate financial aid package.

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Sonia Kalo
Sonia Kalo, News Editor
Sonia Kalo is the News Editor of The Ticker
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