The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has some major revisions starting with the 2024-2025 year as a result of the FAFSA Simplification Act that was passed in December 2021. Due to these large updates, the 2024-2025 application will open in December instead of the usual October 1st. We will keep you posted on the exact date as soon as it is announced by the Department of Education.

What does the FAFSA Simplification Act do?

FAFSA Form Changes

  • The Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  • The student’s housing choice
    • MSUB may assume a status based on your living situation from 2023-2024. The student has the right to request an update based on actual plans for 2024-2025.
  • The student’s interesting in Federal Work-Study (FWS) employment
    • MSUB will package work study on a first-come, first-serve basis. Early filing will ensure a better chance of a work study offer.
  • No benefit for having siblings in college.
    • Previously, the FAFSA divided the EFC proportionally based on the number of household members in college. The elimination of this "sibling discount" will be the biggest change in aid eligibility for some students. The SAI will not use the number in college as a factor in calculation of eligibility. As such, Montana State University Billings (MSUB) students with siblings in college may see a change in their aid eligibility at MSUB as well as with the aid received by their sibling(s) at MSUB or elsewhere. The determination to no longer consider the number in college was made by Congress and can only be changed by Congress.
  • Family Farms and small businesses must be reported as assets.
    • 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.
  • Excluded income for the student, spouse, and parents. This includes other income items that have been reported under "Additional Financial Information" on the FAFSA and excluded from need analysis in prior years (such as taxable combat pay, or special combat pay and cooperative education program earnings). Child support received is still reported, but as assets rather than income.
  • Applicants will be required to use the IRS Direct Data Exchange
    • 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.
  • All “contributors” must provide financial information.
    • A contributor 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.
    • Who Is a Contributor on the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form? - YouTube
  • The parent responsible for submitting the FAFSA in cases of divorce or separation has changed.
    • 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.