2024-2025 FAFSA® Overview for Students

Let’s talk about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and what you need to know for the upcoming year. Here’s a quick overview to help you prepare!


The FAFSA application for the 2024-2025 school year is now open. You’ll file the FAFSA every year you’re in college. For the years that follow the 2024-2025 application season, the open date will be October 1. The earlier you file, the better, but be sure you complete the 2024-2025 FAFSA by the deadline of June 30, 2025. 

Important Terms 

Contributor(s): People asked to provide information on a student’s FAFSA form. FAFSA limits contributors to yourself, your spouse (if applicable), your biological or adopted parent, or the parent’s spouse (stepparent). While other people may have played a significant role in raising or financially supporting you, for FAFSA purposes, these are the only people considered contributors.

Student Aid Index (SAI): The number colleges use to determine how much financial aid they should offer. The SAI replaced the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 

Cost of Attendance (COA): Each school’s estimated total for tuition, fees, room, board, books/supplies, transportation, and personal expenses.

Need: Cost of attendance (COA) – Student Aid Index (SAI) – Other Financial Assistance = Need

Unusual Circumstances: When you cannot contact a parent or where contact with a parent poses a risk to you. 

Provisional Independent Student: The designation given to students who indicate an unusual circumstance. 

FUTURE Act & FAFSA Simplification Act: Pieces of legislation that have impacted the user experience and qualifications for federal student aid. 

Independent Student: Students who are not required to have parents contribute to their FAFSA. 

Verification: When FAFSA/your college asks you to provide additional information after submitting a FAFSA form. This doesn’t happen to all students.

What You Can Expect

The 2024-2025 FAFSA introduced a new logic system to streamline the process. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

  1. Create an FSA ID: Both you and your expected contributors should create an FSA ID. It’s a unique identifier used throughout the FAFSA process.
  2. Initiate the FAFSA Form: As the student, you will start the FAFSA form and answer all the questions accurately. Your answers will determine which contributors need to provide information. Enter the email addresses of any identified contributor(s).
  3. Contributor Email Notification: Each identified contributor will receive an email informing them of their role in the FAFSA process.
  4. Contributor Completion: Contributors should open the email from FAFSA, sign in or log in to StudentAid.gov using their own FSA ID, review the provided information, and complete their respective sections of the FAFSA form.
  5. Required Information: All contributors must provide their name, date of birth, social security number, email address, and personal financial information, regardless of their future financial contribution toward your education.


Here are some changes you should be aware of with the 2024-2025 FAFSA form:

  1. The FAFSA opened December 2023 for the 2024-2025 school year. It will open on October 1st in the following years.
  2. The FAFSA requires contributors to directly exchange data with the IRS.
  3. The FAFSA form has 36 questions (used to be 108), making filing quicker and easier.
  4. The Student Aid Index (SAI) replaced the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), emphasizing that aid qualification is based on your eligibility, not your family’s expected payment.
  5. Child support, family farms, and small businesses are now assets when determining aid eligibility.
  6. The number of family members attending college is no longer a factor in determining aid eligibility.
  7. There is no longer a selective service requirement for FAFSA applicants.
  8. Negative consequences associated with drug convictions are no longer a factor in FAFSA eligibility.
  9. Colleges have more flexibility in adjusting aid packages based on professional judgment.
  10. Unaccompanied or homeless youth have more options for providing documentation when applying for financial aid.
  11. Applicants who cannot provide parent information due to unusual circumstances now have more flexibility in the FAFSA submission.
  12. FAFSA information is now available in the 11 most common languages in the United States, ensuring accessibility for a wider range of students.
  13. Fewer students will be selected for FAFSA form verification, making the process simpler for many.

Keep in Mind

If a contributor refuses to provide their information, it will result in an incomplete FAFSA form, and you will become ineligible for federal student aid. 

Advocating For Yourself

Once you receive admission and your financial aid letter, there are a few situations where you may need to call the financial aid office.

  1. The tax year doesn’t reflect your current situation. Consider visiting the financial aid office if the tax year pulled into your FAFSA doesn’t accurately show your family’s current financial situation. For example, if your family experienced a loss of income or employment.
  2. Your family has multiple students in college. If you have siblings also attending college, the aid office at your chosen college may be able to adjust your funding offer.
  3. Your family has elementary or secondary school expenses. If your family had any expenses related to elementary or secondary school tuition, it’s worth mentioning. It could impact your financial aid offer.
  4. Your family has unusual medical or dental expenses. If your family had any significant medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance, it’s worth noting them for consideration in your aid package.
  5. You’re a provisional independent student. If the FAFSA determines that you are a provisional independent student, the financial aid office can guide you through the process and advise you on the necessary documentation.

Special Circumstances

In some cases, you may encounter special circumstances that affect your FAFSA process:

The identified contributor doesn’t have a social security number. Even if a contributor doesn’t have a social security number, they can still get an FSA ID to fill out their portion of the FAFSA form.

The identified contributor is imprisoned. If a contributor is imprisoned, it is considered an unusual circumstance. You will be granted provisional independent status.

The identified contributor is unreachable. It’s considered an unusual circumstance if you cannot contact a contributor. You will be granted provisional independent status.

The identified contributor poses a danger. If contact with a contributor poses a risk to you, it is considered an unusual circumstance, and you will be granted provisional independent status. The following are examples provided by StudentAid.gov of unusual circumstances: human trafficking, legally granted refugee or asylum status, parental abandonment or estrangement, and student or parental incarceration. 

The identified contributor didn’t file taxes. The contributor must consent to link to the IRS database even if no taxes were filed. 

Independent Students: Certain identifications allow you to file as an independent student without requiring parental contribution on the FAFSA.

  1. Anyone born before Jan 1, 2001
  2. Anyone married (and not separated) 
  3. Graduate or professional students 
  4. Active duty or military veteran 
  5. Orphan 
  6. Ward of the court 
  7. Anyone with legal dependents other than a spouse 
  8. Emancipated minor 
  9. Anyone unaccompanied and homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless

Remember, it’s essential to stay informed and understand the FAFSA process. If you have any questions or need further guidance, reach out to the financial aid offices at your chosen colleges. Good luck with your FAFSA application and your college journey!

Additional Resources

How to Set Up an Email Address 

FAFSA Deadlines

Financial Aid Toolkit

FSA Knowledge Center

FSA Estimator

FSA Loan Simulator

FSA LinkedIn

FSA Facebook

FSA Instagram

FSA Twitter

FSA YouTube