2024-2025 Important FAFSA Updates

The FAFSA Simplification Act has brought many changes to the FAFSA process. Here's what you need to know and what steps to take next.

What Are My Next Steps?

I haven't applied yet.

I've been admitted.

  • Submit your FAFSA and include Widener's school code: 003313.
  • Commit to Widener by June 1 through a $400 enrollment deposit. This timing sets you up for a successful transition this fall: if you confirm your enrollment and apply for housing by May 15, you'll be included in the first round of housing assignments, released June 10. 

To confirm that Widener received your FAFSA, visit your Admissions Portal

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).

 

The FAFSA will reduce the maximum number of questions from 108 to 36. And because the FAFSA on the Web is dynamic, some students won't even be presented with all 36 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 that they've been identified as such, and will need to log in using their own FSA ID 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, undergraduate Widener students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility.

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.

The API link to start your state application for PA state-based financial aid will not be available on the 2024-2025 FAFSA. Once your FAFSA is processed, you will receive communication from PHEAA to start this important step.

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 Widener 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.
  • 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, Widener won't even receive this data from the FAFSA.

Disclaimer

Widener's Office of Financial Aid Services 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 2024-2025 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.

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