Troy University Financial Aid Vice Chancellor talks changes to FAFSA for 24-25 year

Published 9:13 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

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In anticipation of the 2024-2025 FAFSA Simplification Act, Troy University Associate Vice Chancellor of Financial Aid Alicia Bookout explains the new changes students and families can expect to encounter, including the application process, the Student Aid Index, Pell Grants and reportable assets, among others.

“There are a number of benefits to the FAFSA Simplification Act, including a more streamlined application process, a better user experience, expanded eligibility for federal student aid and reduced barriers for certain student populations,” Bookout said.

Changes include:

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The FAFSA form will be shorter and more user-friendly. The form has been reduced from 108 to 46 questions.

“Because the form on the website is dynamic, some students won’t even be presented with all 46 questions,” she said. “This streamlined format will simplify the application process and make it less daunting for students and their families.”

Students may list up to 20 colleges. Previously, students were only allowed to list up to 10 colleges and universities.

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 2024-2025, all persons on the application must provide consent for the Department of Education to receive tax information or confirmation of non-filing status directly from the IRS,” Bookout said. “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 form and reduces the number of questions that need to be answered.”

All “contributors” must provide financial information. “Contributors,” a new term introduced, refers to anyone who is required to provide information on a student’s form, such as a parent, stepparent or spouse. A student’s and parent’s answers on the application will determine which contributors—if any—will be required to provide information. Contributors will receive an email informing them they’ve been identified and will need to log in using their own FSA ID.

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

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is replacing Expected Family Contribution.

“A notable terminology update, this name more accurately describes the number used to determine aid eligibility,” Bookout said. “It is intended to make more students eligible, and, unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number down to -1500.”

The number of household members in college will not be used to calculate SAI. The application will still ask how many household members are in college, but answers will not be calculated into the SAI.

“Undergraduate TROY students with siblings in college may see a change in their federal aid eligibility,” she said.

Some students will automatically be awarded a Pell Grant. Families making less than 175 percent and single parents making less than 225 percent 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 percent, 325 percent, 350 percent or 400 percent of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.

The parent responsible for submitting the application in cases of divorce or separation has changed. For dependent students, financial information was previously needed from the parent(s) the student lived with the most in the last 12 months. With the new application, financial information will be required from the parent(s) who provided the most financial support to the student.

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,” Bookout said. “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:

  • The general types of aid available to TROY students
  • Federal student loan limits
  • FAFSA will still be required for consideration of federal and state financial aid every year
  • Dependency status questions that determine if student’s parent(s) must complete the FAFSA will remain the same
  • FAFSA will still request tax information from the prior-prior year, which means 2022 income and assets will be reported on the 2024-2025 application
  • TROY admission application and scholarship 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 reflection. TROY does not receive this data.

Bookout said she recommends that all current students and students who plan to begin classes at TROY in the fall of 2024 should complete the application as soon as possible.

“The 2024-2025 application is now available, but schools won’t begin to receive FAFSA data until the end of January,” she said. “That means we won’t be able to notify students that TROY has received their application until mid-to-late February. We plan to begin sending estimated aid offers to students who are admitted to TROY and have completed their application process by mid-April.

“However, this is subject to change as we receive new information from our software providers and the Department of Education,” she added.

Any updates to exact dates will be posted here.