Significant Changes Coming to the 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA Simplification Act represents a major overhaul of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid. Starting with the 2024–2025 award year, the FAFSA will be revamped and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in federal financial aid programs will change. At UW-Eau Claire, the 2024-2025 FAFSA covers fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025.
When will the 2024-2025 FAFSA become available?
Due to the extensiveness of changes addressed below, the 2024-2025 FAFSA will be delayed from the usual October 1 release date to sometime in December 2023. A more precise FAFSA availability date will be updated here once it is known.
2024-2025 FAFSA Changes for all applicants
Changes all applicants will experience with the 2024-2025 FAFSA:
- Simplification: The maximum number of questions will be reduced from 108 to 46 for most students. Depending on their circumstances, some students will need to answer even fewer questions due to the dynamic skip logic built into the application. Additionally, providing income and tax information will be expedited under the process addressed in the next bullet.
- Income and Tax Data: Previously, income and tax information was provided by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer data from the IRS to the FAFSA or by entering this information manually. Beginning with 2024-2025, all persons listing tax information on the FAFSA will be required to use the IRS Direct Data Exchanged (DDX) to share income and tax information or they must confirm non-filing status.
- FAFSA Contributors: All those reporting income and tax data on the FAFSA will need to have an FSA ID if they don't have one already. FAFSA contributors include the student, student spouse (if the student is married), parent, and other parent (if the parent reported on the FAFSA is married). If married individuals filed their taxes separately, both spouses will need to obtain an FSA ID.
- Student Aid Index (SAI): The FAFSA previously calculated an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Now the FAFSA will produce the Student Aid Index (SAI), which is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. The SAI, unlike the EFC, can be negative with the minimum SAI being -1500.
- Housing: Students will no longer provide their housing plans on the FAFSA (on campus, off campus or with parent) which can impact a student's financial aid offer. UWEC will make the assumption that first and second year students will live on campus while third year+ students will live off campus.
2024-2025 FAFSA Changes for some applicants
Additional changes that will affect some applicants:
- Divorced or Separated Parent Information on the FAFSA: In prior years if the student's parents were divorced or separated, the student was instructed to include on the FAFSA the parental data of the parent with whom they lived the most in the previous 12 months. Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the student will need to include the parental data of the parent who provided the most financial support in the previous 12 months. If this parent has remarried, both the parent and stepparent's information is required. If both biological parents provide equal support, the student is then instructed to include the parental data of the parent who earned more.
- Number of Students in College No Longer Factored: The FAFSA previously prorated the EFC based on the number of household members that were in college. However, the SAI will not use the number in college as a factor in calculating aid eligibility. Consequently, current students with siblings in college may see a change/reduction in their need-based aid eligibility under the 2024-2025 FAFSA.
- Inclusion of family farms and small businesses: In past years, the value of a family farm or a small business with fewer than 100 employees was not reported. Beginning with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the net worth of each will be part of the FAFSA calculation.
What is Not Changing?
While the 2024-2025 FAFSA is being revamped and aid eligibility calculation revised, a number of aid-related matters will not change:
- The FAFSA will continue to be required for federal aid consideration, will be used for state and institutional need-based aid determination, and remains an annual application that continuing students will need to complete each year.
- Dependency status questions that determine if your parents must provide information on your FAFSA remain the same.
- The FAFSA will request tax information from the prior-prior tax year. Families with significant reductions in income levels can review the special circumstances process.
- Degree-seeking students will be eligible for federal student loans assuming they complete the FAFSA, have not reached annual or aggregate limits, are enrolled at least half-time, and are not in default on previous federal student loans.
- Undergraduate admission applications for 2024-2025 should be completed by February 1, 2024 for UW-Eau Claire scholarship consideration.
- It is recommended the FAFSA be filed and other required documents be submitted to Blugold Central by the priority date - for the 2024-2025 academic year, the priority date is March 15, 2024. Applications completed after this date may be too late for certain aid programs with limited funding.
Complete the 2024-2025 FAFSA Once Available
It's important to complete the 2024-2025 FAFSA as soon as it's available in December 2023:
New Undergraduate Students (Freshmen and Transfers)
New undergraduate students for the 2024-2025 academic year should continue to prioritize completion of their UW-Eau Claire admission application by February 1, 2024 for scholarship consideration.
The FAFSA remains the application for new freshmen and for transfer students to receive a financial aid offer from UW-Eau Claire. The delay of FAFSA availability until December does slightly shorten the window for applying for aid, and UW-Eau Claire will work to begin awarding aid for new students with FAFSAs on file as soon as systems are ready. Anticipated timelines in awarding will be detailed here.
Continuing Undergraduate Students
Returning students should complete the FAFSA as soon as it is available. While some students will receive more need-based aid through the new SAI calculations, others may receive less. You will want to know your aid eligibility sooner than later to make financial plans for continuing your education.
Graduate students, because they are primarily eligible for non-need-based federal loans through FAFSA completion, will experience a simplified application process but are unlikely to see any changes in their aid eligibility.
Note: 2024-2025 FAFSA changes are being implemented by the U.S. Department of Education. Information on this webpage is subject to change as new information becomes available.