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The FAFSA Simplification Act was passed by Congress in 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The law changes many aspects of the FAFSA process, and most of the changes take effect for the 2024-2025 academic year.
Because Macalester asks prospective students to complete the CSS Profile to apply for need-based financial aid, we are not changing any of our institutional policies in terms of how we determine financial aid eligibility. We remain committed to providing financial aid packages that meet 100% of every admitted student’s demonstrated need, as determined by the CSS Profile. We also ask eligible prospective students to complete the FAFSA so they can receive federal and state financial aid, but in most cases the FAFSA does not affect a student’s overall eligibility for aid.
Here is more information about applying for financial aid as a prospective student.
Current students who are eligible to file the FAFSA must do so each year to reapply for need-based financial aid. However, Macalester only uses the FAFSA to broadly determine if a family’s circumstances have changed significantly. We primarily focus on the family’s total income and the number of children in college, not the student’s specific FAFSA EFC (now the SAI). Because of this, we do not anticipate significant changes to current students’ financial aid as a result of the FAFSA Simplification Act.
Here is more information about reapplying for financial aid as a current student.
Below is more information about some of the major changes to the FAFSA for 2024-2025. This list is not exhaustive; for more information about the FAFSA Simplification Act, please visit Federal Student Aid. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about this information or about applying for financial aid.
Next year’s FAFSA usually becomes available on October 1. For instance, the 2023-2024 FAFSA became available on October 1, 2022. Because of the changes to the 2024-2025 FAFSA, it will not be available in October and will go live by the end of December 2023.
For prospective students applying via Early Decision I, Early Action, or the QuestBridge National College Match, we ask for financial aid materials to be completed before December. Since Macalester uses the CSS Profile to determine financial aid eligibility, we do not need students to complete the FAFSA when completing the rest of their financial aid application. We will, however, need students to complete the FAFSA at a later date if the student will be attending Macalester. Here is more information about applying for financial aid as a prospective student.
We ask current students to complete next year’s FAFSA by May 15 in order to receive next year’s financial aid eligibility in mid-June. The FAFSA will not be available starting in October, but students can start completing the FAFSA by the end of December.
FSA IDs/FAFSA signatures
Students and parents can complete and sign the FAFSA electronically using an FSA ID. Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, parents who do not have a Social Security number will be able to create an FSA ID; they have not been able to do so in the past. Since everyone will be able to create an FSA ID for use in completing the FAFSA, signing the FAFSA electronically will be the only method to submit the FAFSA online. Printing and signing a signature page will no longer be an option.
Students whose biological parents are separated or divorced must determine which parent’s information needs to be reported on the FAFSA. In the past, the FAFSA parent was the parent who the student lived with more over the last 12 months.
Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the FAFSA parent will be the parent who provides the greater amount of financial support to the student. If the FAFSA parent is remarried, their spouse’s information must be reported too; this requirement has not changed.
With this change, current students may need to report a different parent’s information on the 2024-2025 FAFSA than they did on the 2023-2024 FAFSA. In most cases, though, we do not expect this to significantly change a student’s aid eligibility. Macalester asks prospective students to complete the CSS Profile and requires CSS Profile applications from both biological parents if they are separated or divorced, so in most cases, financial aid eligibility is already based on information from both parents, regardless whose information is on the FAFSA.
IRS Data Retrieval Tool
In the past, families could use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to provide income information on the FAFSA. The FAFSA asked individuals to input biographical information to link to the IRS and transfer in IRS data.
Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the Data Retrieval Tool will be replaced by the Direct Data Exchange (DDX). Unlike the DRT, the DDX will transfer information from the IRS automatically; families will not need to actively link to the IRS while completing the FAFSA. Students and parents will be required to provide consent for the exchange of information from the IRS, and the FAFSA will automatically transfer in IRS data based on biographical information already entered on the FAFSA.
SAI replaces EFC
After students complete and submit the FAFSA, the data is run through a federal formula that results in a number called the EFC (Expected Family Contribution). Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the EFC will now be called the SAI (Student Aid Index).
Like the EFC, the SAI is a measure of a family’s financial strength and ability to contribute to college costs. It does not represent the actual amount a family needs to pay for college, so the name change from EFC to SAI is meant to better reflect this. The amount a family is expected to pay for college depends on which college a student attends and how much financial aid they receive.
Siblings in college
The FAFSA considers many factors when determining a student’s SAI (Student Aid Index): income, savings, household size, etc. Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the number of children a family has in college will not be considered.
The CSS Profile will still account for a family’s number of children in college, and Macalester will continue to account for this as well. This change to the FAFSA will have no effect on students’ overall financial aid eligibility at Macalester.
This change may affect a student’s eligibility for federal subsidized loans, since eligibility is based on FAFSA results. Macalester will continue to offer federal loans to students and will continue to award the maximum amount of federal subsidized loans for which a student qualifies.