FAFSA Simplification

The FAFSA Simplification Act has recently been passed by Congress to streamline the financial aid process for students and families. Among other key changes this legislation will reduce the total number of questions students see when filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), attempts to clarify the questions that will be asked, and will aim to increase Federal Pell Grant eligibility. While in some cases the FAFSA simplification could increase some students’ financial aid eligibility, others may see a decrease in aid. Key changes that can impact the application process and resulting financial aid offers for students are outlined below.

Key changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Most of the changes related to FAFSA simplification will begin with the 2024-2025 application. Due to the changes, the 2024-2025 FAFSA will not be available as of the traditional October 1 date. The anticipated launch date of the 2024-25 FAFSA will be December 31, 2023. 
  • The Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) has been replaced by the Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI is a different way to determine aid eligibility.  
  • The FAFSA will use data received directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to calculate Federal Pell Grant eligibility and the SAI.
  • The FAFSA Simplification Act expands the Federal Pell Grant to more students and will link eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level. 
  • Schools will use the SAI to determine eligibility for federal financial aid programs. The University of Maryland will also use the SAI to determine the financial need for need-based institutional funding such as the University of Maryland Grant. 
  • SAI will no longer consider the number of students in college. This may reduce need-based aid eligibility for current students with siblings in college.
  • For students whose parents are separated or divorced, the guidance on which parent income to report has changed to the parent who provides the most financial support to the student rather than the parent who lives at the student’s primary residence.
  • The net worth of a business is no longer limited to those with more than 100 full-time employees. Applicants will be asked to report the net worth of all businesses, regardless of the size of the business.
  • Parents without a Social Security Number can apply for an FSA ID. This will speed up FAFSA processing time as they can submit the form online, rather than having to print, sign and mail their application.

To help ensure that students and families—and the partners critical to getting student aid dollars into the hands of students—are best prepared for a successful 2024–25 FAFSA cycle, Federal Student Aid has launched the Better FAFSA Better Future Roadmap, which includes the timeline for students and families below.

Delivery Date Resource

Summer 2023

Preparing for 2024–25 FAFSA Outreach Campaign

A communications campaign, including videos directed to students and families, highlights what they should do to prepare for the new FAFSA form. The campaign will also provide key facts about what to expect from the new FAFSA process, including how to create an FSA ID, features of the 2024–25 FAFSA form, and Federal Pell Grant eligibility.

Summer through Fall 2023

Financial Aid Estimator and Preview Tools

Online tools for students and families will provide an early estimate of their Student Aid Index and potential eligibility, as well as visual previews of the new FAFSA form.

Summer 2023 through Winter 2024

FAFSA Information Updates on StudentAid.gov

Ongoing updates to FAFSA information and help resources will be posted to StudentAid.gov including FAFSA process implementation updates.

November 2023-February 2024

FSA YouTube Chanel Updates 


FSA will develop videos to engage students and families. Topics will include “Preparing for the FAFSA Form” and “2024-25 FAFSA FAQs”.

December 31, 2023

2024–25 FAFSA Available
Beginning November 2023

FSA Social Media Outreach

Ongoing multi-channel social media campaign to prepare students and families for the 2024-25 FAFSA.

First Half of March 2024 

2024-25 ISIR and FAFSA Submission Summaries Available

FSA will complete eligibility determination and begin transmitting Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) and FAFSA Submission Summaries to states, institutions, and applicants.


The delay is due to the FAFSA Simplification Act, a large-scale update to the federal aid system that includes an overhaul of the FAFSA form and the entire application processing system. The act also changes the need analysis methodology used for awarding aid and introduces new formulas for awarding Federal Pell Grants, ultimately aimed at expanding access for students. 

  • Despite the change in priority deadline for 2024-25, UMD is committed to providing financial aid offer notifications in the same timeframe as years past. Please review our Important Dates page for a timeline based on the type of student you are (incoming freshman, transfer, returning, or graduate student).
  • If you are a freshman applicant, we strongly encourage you to complete your FAFSA by February 1, 2024 to r,eceive your financial aid offer notification in a timely fashion.

The U.S. Department of Education informed schools that the 2024-2025 FAFSA information is expected to be shared with schools in the first half of March 2024.

Yes. The Federal Student Aid Estimator may be used to provide an estimate of how much federal financial aid a student may be able to receive.

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is a new eligibility index number the financial aid office will use to determine need-based financial aid eligibility. The SAI will replace the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) starting with the 2024-2025 academic year.

A contributor is anyone required to provide consent and approval for obtaining federal tax information needed to complete a student’s FAFSA. This includes the student, the student’s parent(s) if the student is a dependent, and the student’s spouse, if applicable. Students must designate contributors when completing their section of the FAFSA. Federal Student Aid (FSA) sends an email to the contributor(s) who is identified by the applicant (student). From there, the contributor creates a studentAid.gov account with an FSA ID if they don’t already have one, and then reviews and submits the required information and signs the student’s FAFSA.

All contributors to the FAFSA must be authenticated using a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID).   Users who have not previously completed a FAFSA should create an FSA ID as soon as possible at studentaid.gov. To obtain an FSA ID, users will need a social security number (SSN) or undergo a knowledge-based match to validate their identity. 

Yes, parents that do not have a social security number will be able to apply for an FSA ID online.

The parent who provides the most financial support should complete the FAFSA. If one parent pays child support, that parent should complete the FAFSA if the child support amounts to more than half of the student’s support. If a dependent student’s parents are unmarried and living together, both parents will need to complete the FAFSA as contributors.

Consent is mandatory for transferring federal tax information from the IRS and determining the student’s aid eligibility. If a student (or student’s spouse) does not provide consent, the student will be ineligible for federal aid. If a parent contributor refuses consent, the student may still be given the opportunity to receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

Yes, the contributor is required to provide consent even if the contributor is not required to file a tax return based on IRS guidelines.

Federal Pell Grant eligibility will be determined using 3 methods:

  • Maximum Federal Pell Grant eligibility determination: using the family’s Federal Tax Return Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), family size, and Federal Poverty Guidelines, maximum Federal Pell Grant eligibility will be determined. Federal Tax Return information from the prior-prior year will be used to make the determination, for the 2024-25 academic year, 2022 Federal Tax Return AGI, and family size will be used. Students of families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% of the federal poverty level will receive a maximum Federal Pell Grant.
  • Minimum Federal Pell Grant eligibility determination: using the family’s Federal Tax Return Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), family size, and Federal Poverty Guidelines,  minimum Federal Pell Grant eligibility will be determined. Federal Tax Return information from the prior-prior year will be used to make the determination, for the 2024-25 academic year, 2022 Federal Tax Return AGI, and family size will be used. Students from households below 275%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the federal poverty level, depending on household structure will receive the minimum Federal Pell Grant.
  • The Student Aid Index (SAI) will be used to determine Federal Pell Grant awards between the maximum and minimum amounts

UMD need-based financial aid program eligibility will be determined using students’ residency (Maryland resident students only) and unmet financial need considering the cost of attendance, Student Aid Index (SAI), and Other Financial Assistance. For example:

  • Cost of Attendance minus SAI minus Other Financial Assistance (Federal grants, state grants, scholarships, waivers) = Unmet financial need
  • Please see the Type of Aid section of our website for more detailed eligibility information