FAFSA Simplification Information

Better FAFSA, Better Future–FAFSA Simplification

Big changes are coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application for the upcoming 2024–2025 aid year. The Office of Financial Aid at Southeast Community College (SCC) will update this page as additional information is made available so that we can continue to educate students, families and our campus community on the new processes.

Why is it changing?

On December 27, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The law includes provisions that amend the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act and includes the FAFSA Simplification Act—a sweeping redesign of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid. Specifically, the law makes it easier for students and families to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and expands access to federal student aid.

What does this mean for you?

The 2024–2025 FAFSA process is going to look a bit different than in the past. Don’t worry, we’re here to help keep you informed.

FAFSA changes

  • The start date for the 2024-2025 FAFSA will be delayed. The 2024-2025 FAFSA will become available at studentaid.gov by December 31, 2023.
  • The number of questions on the FAFSA has decreased from approximately 108 to less than 40.
  • The EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) will become the Student Aid Index (SAI).
  • What is the difference between EFC and SAI? EFC and SAI are both numbers that colleges use to figure out how much financial aid you can get. EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution, and SAI stands for Student Aid Index.
  • EFC is based on your family’s income and assets. SAI is based on your family’s income, assets, and other factors.
  • Students can list up to 20 schools on their FAFSA via the online application.
  • Aligns more questions on the FAFSA with federal income tax returns.
  • Previously, contributors to the FAFSA information were students, a student’s spouse (when married), and parent(s) (when students are dependent) who entered their tax information or used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer tax data from the IRS to the FAFSA. Beginning with 2024-25, all persons listing tax information on the FAFSA will be required to use the IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX) to share tax information or confirm non-filing status. DDX gives ease to the process and reduces questions to be answered. Each contributor will need to complete their portion of tax information and the information provided is private and not seen by any of the other contributors on the FAFSA. This change also requires the student, spouse, and all parents with tax data reported to get an FSA ID (if you don’t each have one already).
  • Students, spouses, parents, and stepparents will now need to provide their consent in the new Consent to Retrieve and Disclose Federal Tax Information section of the FAFSA for federal student aid eligibility.
  • This consent will allow the IRS to share Federal Tax Information using the Direct Data Exchange (DDX).
  • If any party to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed. However, a Student Aid Index (SAI) will not be calculated.
  • The Custodial Parent on your FAFSA will no longer be the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months, but rather the parent who provided you with more financial support.
  • Students who qualify for a dependency override due to homelessness or not being able to access their parents’ financials, no longer need to recertify their dependency status each year, unless their situation changes.

Changes to Calculating Your Aid Eligibility

As part of implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act, students and families will see a different measure of their ability to pay for college, and they will experience a change in the federal methodology used to determine aid.

  • Due to a change in the methodology used to determine aid, a Student Aid Index (SAI) – rather than an expected family contribution (EFC) – is used to measure the student’s (and, if applicable, the family’s) ability to pay for college.
  • The new need analysis formula to calculate an SAI:
  • Removes the number of family members in college from the calculation.
  • Allows a minimum SAI of -$1500, but negative numbers do not increase eligibility for federal student aid or allow financial aid to go above the college’s cost of attendance (COA).
  • Implements separate criteria to determine eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant Program, linking eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level, making program funds available to more students.
  • Child support received will be included in assets and not as untaxed income.
  • Families who own a small business/farm that also serves as primary residence will now have assets of that business/farm considered in their need analysis calculation.
  • The SAI will be determined using one of three formulas:
  • Formula A – Dependent students;
  • Formula B – Independent students without dependents other than a spouse; or,
  • Formula C – Independent students with dependents other than a spouse.
  • Although there is no simplified needs test in the SAI formula, certain applicants will still be exempt from asset reporting based on their income and tax filing status.

Southeast Community College Financial Aid office will provide future communication throughout the next year on these upcoming changes. EducationQuest offers free assistance with your financial aid application. EducationQuest.org

Additional information can also be found at  What is the FAFSA Simplification Act? | Federal Student Aid

What you can do to prepare

  1. Mark your calendar for December 2023. We will provide updates on this page when we know the official date that you can complete your 2024–2025 FAFSA.
  2. Check this page often for updates. This is the largest change to the FAFSA in over 40 years! We will update this page as information becomes available. 
  3. lf you have questions or concerns, contact our team via financialaid@southeast.edu or 402-437-2610


What is the FAFSA Simplification Act?  Federal Student Aid website
FAFSA Simplification Fact Sheet
FAFSA Simplification Tool Kit  Federal Student Aid website