Financial Aid

2024-25 FAFSA Changes

How the FAFSA Simplification Act Affects You

Big changes have been made to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application for the 2024-25 aid year!

The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed by Congress in 2020 and represents a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid. This includes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, the need analysis that determines federal aid eligibility, changes in terminology, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in federal student aid programs.

2024-2025 FAFSA is Now Available

The 2024-2025 FAFSA opened on December 31, 2023 and is now available 24 hours a day. The priority deadline to submit the FAFSA to Southwestern is March 1, 2024.

The Department of Education has announced that FAFSA data will be sent to colleges and universities beginning in mid-March.  Once we start to receive FAFSA data, we will begin to process this data and expect to start issuing financial aid offers to admitted students in mid-April.  We expect to start issuing financial aid notices to current students in May.

What’s changing with the FAFSA?

There are a number of benefits of the FAFSA simplification act, including a more streamlined application process and a better user experience for the FAFSA, expanded eligibility for federal student aid, and reduced barriers for certain student populations (e.g. homeless and unaccompanied youth, incarcerated students, English language learners, and students from low-income backgrounds).

Some fundamental changes include, but are not limited to:

  • The FAFSA will reduce the maximum number of questions from 108 to 46. And because the FAFSA on the Web is dynamic, some students won’t even be presented with all 46 questions. This streamlined format will simplify the application process and make it less daunting for students and their families.

  • Previously, the FAFSA only allowed students to list up to 10 colleges and universities.

  • Currently, the FAFSA is only available in English and Spanish. The 2024-25 application will be expanded to include the 11 most common languages spoken by English learner students and their parents.

  • Previously, users had the option to enter their tax information manually or use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Beginning with 2024-25, all persons on the FAFSA must provide consent for the Department of Education to receive tax information or confirmation of non-filing status directly from the IRS. In a very small number of cases, students and families will have to enter their tax data manually, but for most, that data will be automatically transferred into the application. This change makes it easier to complete the FAFSA and reduces the number of questions to be answered.

  • A contributor - a new term being introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA - refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s form (such as a parent/stepparent or spouse). A student’s or parent’s answers on the FAFSA will determine which contributors (if any) will be required to provide information.

    Contributors will receive an email informing them they have been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID (if they don’t already have one) to provide the required information on the student’s FAFSA.

    Being a contributor does not mean they are financially responsible for the student’s education costs, but it does mean the contributor must provide information on the FAFSA or the application will be incomplete and the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

  • A notable terminology update within the new FAFSA is the replacement of the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI). This name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.

  • Previously, the FAFSA calculated the number of household members attending college into the EFC, dividing it proportionately to determine federal aid eligibility. Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA, the application will still ask how many household members are in college, but your answer will not be calculated into the SAI. As such, SU students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.

    SU will continue to use the number in college for students when determining eligibility for need-based institutional financial aid.

  • Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will see their students receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Minimum Pell Grants will be guaranteed to students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.

  • For dependent students, financial information was previously needed from the parent(s) the student had lived with the most in the last 12 months. With the new FAFSA, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student.

  • When required, families must now report the value of their small business or family farm. If the family farm includes the principal place of residence, applicants should determine the total net value of all farm assets and subtract the net value of their principal residence to determine the final value of their farm assets.

What isn’t changing?

While the FAFSA is receiving an update and the aid eligibility calculation has been revised, there are a number of aid-related matters that will not change.

  • The general types of aid available to SU students and federal student loan limits will not change.
  • The FAFSA will still be required for consideration of federal and state financial aid every year.
  • Dependency status questions that determine if your parent(s) must complete the FAFSA will remain the same.
  • The FAFSA will still request tax information from the prior-prior year which means you’ll report 2022 income and assets on your 2024-25 application. Families with significant reductions in income can consider submitting an appeal.
  • SU admission application deadlines will not change.
  • The questions regarding an applicant’s gender, race, and ethnicity will have no effect on federal student aid eligibility and are included for statistical purposes and data collection only. In fact, SU will not even receive this data from the FAFSA.
When should I submit the 2024-25 FAFSA?

New students who plan to begin classes at SU in the fall of 2024 should complete the FAFSA by the March 1st priority deadline.

We plan to begin sending aid offers within the timelines below to students who are admitted to SU and have completed the aid application process. However, these dates are subject to change as we receive new information from our software providers and the Department of Education.

Current Southwestern University students should complete the FAFSA by the March 1st priority deadline. More information about the application process is available on our website.

We plan to begin sending financial aid awards to current students beginning in May 2024.

2024-25 Application & Aid Offer Timelines

Admission Round

Admission App Deadline

FAFSA Priority Deadline

SU Sends Financial Aid Offers

Early Decision

November 7

November 20*

Early December*

Early Action

December 5

March 1

Beginning mid-April

Regular Decision

February 6

March 1

Beginning mid-April

* Early Decision applicants who are applying for Financial Aid will be sent an Early Decision Financial Aid Form (EDFAF) in November. The Financial Aid Office will use the information provided on the form to produce an Estimated Aid offer. Admitted Early Decision applicants will receive the estimated offer in early December. Final aid offers will be sent beginning mid-April to those who submit the FAFSA.


Southwestern’s Financial Aid Office is dedicated to providing timely updates to students, families and our community. Due to the significant amount of changes that are occurring, portions of our website may not yet be 100% accurate for the 2024-25 academic year.We’ll continue to update this page as we receive more information from the Department of Education and Federal Student Aid, and appreciate your patience as we work to implement the changes brought by the FAFSA Simplification Act.