As we approach the opening of the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as college students, it is imperative to underscore the significance of upcoming changes that will impact the financial aid application process in general. In this article, we will discuss four crucial changes that you need to be aware of as you prepare to file the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year.

The changes introduced are designed to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of the application process, however this series of changes could significantly impact a student’s financial aid eligibility. 

Here is what you need to know: 

  1. When will the 2024-25 FAFSA Application Period Open?

The FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year opened in December 2023, and the official release date will be announced soon. It is important to note that the delay in the FAFSA release will not impact filing deadlines for state grants and outside scholarships. Pennsylvania residents, for instance, must file the FAFSA by the regular deadline of May 1, to be considered for the state grant. Be sure to check your state’s specific deadline to ensure timely submission.

  1. Who is the contributor and how do you add them on your FAFSA?

A significant shift in the 2024-25 FAFSA revolves around contributors. Contributors (individuals who are required to provide information on the FAFSA) may include the student, the student’s parent(s), the student’s step-parent, or the student’s spouse. The determination of parental contributors is based on various factors, including marital status, living arrangements and financial support.

With the upcoming changes, when adding contributors to the updated FAFSA, the student is tasked with entering personal information about their parents before they invite them to complete their portion of the FAFSA form. The required details include the parent(s)’ name, date of birth, email address and social security number. Make sure you have all the information with you when you file or have your parents file the application with you. 

  1. What Do Contributors and I Need to File the FAFSA?

Like before, a comprehensive list of documentation is required, such as W-2 forms, records of child support payments, federal income tax returns from 2022, and information about various financial assets.

What changed this year is that to successfully file the FAFSA, new users will need to create an FSA ID at least three days prior to the date they plan to file the FAFSA.  New FSA ID requests must now be verified before they are fully functional, which is expected to take up to 3 business days for the government to process new requests.  If the contributor doesn’t have their FSA ID verified by the date they begin the FAFSA, the student/family will not be able to import their financial data directly from the IRS website.  This means the student/family must manually enter all financial information, increasing the risk of entering bad data or being selected for verification. 

Additionally, the consent for using federal tax information is now required from all contributors. Failure to provide consent will render the student ineligible for federal, state or need-based institutional aid. 

Students facing unusual circumstances, such as parental abuse or imprisonment, might request dependency overrides, hence eliminating the need for parental data on the FAFSA. However, these requests are addressed case by case.

  1. Are There Any Notable Changes in Terminology on the FAFSA?

Lastly, get ready for a change in terminology. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will now be referred to as the Student Aid Index (SAI). The Student Aid Report (SAR) will be renamed the FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS), and contributors will now encompass anyone providing information on the FAFSA, whether biological parents or other legal guardians.

With all these changes it can be overwhelming for students and their families, especially those who are filing the application for the first time. As the 2024-25 FAFSA application period approaches, understanding these modifications will help you ensure a smooth and successful financial aid application.

Stay on the lookout for the official release date of the application and if you have questions or need further assistance, access financial aid information through Self Service, or contact a counselor at or at 814-871-7337.