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Financial Aid

FAFSA Simplification


Due to the passing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Simplification Act on December 27, 2020, as a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the FAFSA is undergoing major modifications for the 2024-2025 aid year.

Here are some changes to expect:

  • Be prepared!  As defined below under “New Terminology”, all contributors should have a account (FSA ID).  
  • The new FAFSA application process will provide a simpler and more streamlined process for students.
  • Eligibility for federal Pell Grant may be expanded compared to previous years.  However, due to the formula no longer including number in college, some students Pell eligibility may decrease compared to previous years.
  • The new FAFSA will also bring with it new terminology. 
  • **Dependent Students** New rules for determining which parent(s) information must be included on the FAFSA and who must consent and sign.

Instead of opening in October, the 2024-2025 FAFSA will be available by December 31, 2023. This is only temporary for 2024. After the 2024-2025 aid year, the FAFSA is expected to be available in October as usual.

  • Students can start completing the 2024-25 FAFSA as of December 31, 2023. 
  • Once you complete the online FAFSA, you will get a confirmation page along with a follow-up email.
  • The Department of Education began processing FAFSA applications in March 2024.  
  • MTSU has begun to receive the results from your online FAFSA. However, we cannot begin making corrections until some point in Apirl 2024.  It may take several weeks before MTSU recieved all the FAFSA results.

The FAFSA will feature fewer questions, fewer requirements, and retrieve tax information using a direct data exchange from the IRS instead of the previous IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

  • The FAFSA is introducing the new term contributor, which refers to anyone who is required to provide information on the FAFSA form, including the student, the student’s spouse, a biological or adopted parent, and/or the parent’s spouse (inclusive of step-parent).
    • Being a contributor does not imply responsibility for the student’s college costs.
    • Students will need the contributor’s name, date of birth, Social Security Number (SSN), and email address to invite them to complete the required portion of the FAFSA. 
    • Contributors will need to provide personal and financial information on their section of the FAFSA.
    • If your biological/adoptive parents are divorced or separated from each other, the contributing parent(s) is the parent (and their spouse, if remarried) who provided the greater portion of your financial support during the 12 months immediately prior to filing the FAFSA.   If you did not receive any support from either parent(s) or they both contributed 50% to your support, then it is the parent with the highest income and assets. It is no longer the parent you primarily lived with during the past 12 months.

  • The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will now be referred to as the Student Aid Index (SAI).  It is a new need analysis formula used to determine financial aid eligibility.  Unlike the EFC, the SAI may be a negative number.

  • The Student Aid Report (SAR) will now be referred to as the FAFSA Submission Summary. This is the summary submission document you receive after completing the FAFSA.  The Department of Education will not send your FAFSA results until the end of January 2024.

  • Typically, every contributor must have their own account username and password in order to submit the FAFSA online. 
  • However, in the case of a dependent student whose parents filed a joint return for the applicable tax year and are still married at the time the FAFSA is completed, only one of the parent is considered a contributor and needs an account username and password.
  • If the student is now married or has remarried after December 31, 2022, then the student and the student’s spouse will need an account username and password.
  • If the student’s parent is now married or has remarried after December 31, 2022, then the student, biological/adoptive parent, and step-parent will need an account username and password.
  • A contributor who does not have a Social Security Number should now register to receive an account username and password.  Instructions can be found at
  • Go to to create an Account Username and Password.  An email address can only be attached to one account and cannot be used by multiple users.

  • The FUTURE Act Direct Data Exchange (FA-DDX) is the system replacing the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer an individual’s Federal Tax Information to the FAFSA. Once consent is given by the contributor(s), the FA-DDX allows tax information to be transferred from the IRS to the FAFSA.

  • If the parents of a dependent student are unwilling to provide their information on the FAFSA, but the student doesn’t have an unusual circumstance, the student can choose to have their school determine their eligibility for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan only.
  • The school will have to document that the parent is unwilling to complete the FAFSA.  Typically, the parent will sign a form indicating their refusal to complete the FAFSA.
  • This will prevent the student from receiving any federal or state financial aid other that Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans.

  • If students indiciate on the FAFSA that they have unusual circumstances that prevents them from contacting their parent or that contacting their parents would pose a risk to the student, the FAFSA will be processed based on a provisional independent status.
  • However, you do not qualify for aid under a provisional independent status.
  • An MTSU Financial Aid administrator must verify the student’s circumstances and determine whether a dependency override is warranted.
  • A student may be experiencing unusual circumstances if they
    • left home due to an abusive or threatening environment;
    • are abandoned by or estranged from their parents and have not been adopted;
    • have refugee or asylee status and are separated from their parents, or their parents are displaced in a foreign county;
    • are victim of human trafficking;
    • are incarerated, or their parents are incarcerated and contact with the parents would pose a risk to the student; or
    • are otherwise unable to contact or locate their parents and have not been adopted.
  • Contact the MT One Stop if one of the above circumstances apply to you.

  • The number of family members in college will still be asked on the FAFSA, but it will no longer be used in determining the Student Aid Index (SAI).
  • This may mean that students who have several siblings in college at the same time may see a reduction in their federal Pell Grant eligibility than in past years.

It is anticipated that the new Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation will overall increase the number of undergraduate students who may qualify for a federal Pell Grant and may also increase the amount received.

While the 2024-2025 FAFSA won’t be available until some point in December, you can still prepare by doing the following:

  • Create an account username and password on the Federal Student Aid website and assist contributors, such as your parent(s) or spouse, in creating their own account username and password.
    • An account username and password provides access to the Federal Student Aid’s online system and serves as your electronic signature.
    • You can sign up for informational emails and opt into informational text messages under Communication Prefences within your user account (i.e., FSA ID) to receive up to date notifications and learn about upcoming changes to the FAFSA.
  • Complete the FAFSA as soon as it opens in December.  
  • Use the Federal Student Aid Estimator to find out how much federal student aid you may be eligible for starting with the 2024–25 award year.

Watch the video below to learn more about how to prepare for the new FAFSA!

The Federal Student Aid Estimator provides students and families an estimate of their 2024-2025 federal financial aid using the new Student Aid Index (SAI). 

Please note: This is not a FAFSA. Students will need to complete a 2024-2025 FAFSA when it becomes available after December 2023.

The video below shows a prototoype of the 2024-2025 FAFSA for dependent students.

Federal Student Aid has released a series of educational webinars related to recent changes in federal aid including the 2024-2025 FAFSA. You can view these videos on their YouTube channel here.