JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Implementation of FAFSA Simplification Act

(Last updated: July 8, 2024)

Overview
Financial Aid Application Process for the 2024-25 Academic Year
Resources
Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs)
Electronic Announcements
Other Resources (includes link to 2024-25 FAFSA Issue Alerts)

The FAFSA Simplification Act, enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, makes many important changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Significant changes are being made to impact need analysis, as well as many policies and procedures for schools that participate in the Title IV programs. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has set forth a phased implementation approach, with full implementation by July 1, 2024.

Changes set forth in the FAFSA Simplification Act that are scheduled to begin with the 2024-25 academic year will take time to properly implement. Consequently, the 2024-25 FAFSA is expected to be available in December 2023 (rather than in October). ISAC anticipates availability of the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid for the 2024-25 academic year to coincide with the launch of the 2024-25 FAFSA.

This website will be updated as further details becomes available regarding the 2024-25 federal process for requesting financial aid. In the meantime, the following information is provided as a resource to assist financial aid administrators, high school counselors, and other professionals assisting students who plan to apply for college financial aid for the 2024-25 academic year.

Financial Aid Application Process for the 2024-25 Academic Year

As part of implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act, the 2024-25 federal process for requesting financial assistance is anticipated to reflect the changes outlined below.

  • Up to 20 different colleges may be listed on the online FAFSA, and have information sent to them.
  • Due to a change in the methodology used to determine aid, a Student Aid Index (SAI) – rather than an expected family contribution (EFC) – is used to measure the student's (and, if applicable, the family's) ability to pay for college.
  • The SAI is determined using one of three formulas:
    • Formula A – Dependent students;
    • Formula B – Independent students without dependents other than a spouse; or,
    • Formula C – Independent students with dependents other than a spouse.
  • While a negative SAI is allowed (up to a minimum SAI of -1,500), colleges may not package above the applicant's cost of attendance.
  • Although there is no simplified needs test in the SAI formula, certain applicants will still be exempt from asset reporting based on their income and tax filing status.
  • The new need analysis formula no longer factors the number of family members attending college into the calculation.
  • Separate criteria to determine eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant Program, linking eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level, make program funds available to more students.
  • The Pell Grant scheduled award calculation will consists of three steps:
    • Step 1 – Maximum Pell Grant Eligibility;
    • Step 2 – Student Aid Index Calculation; and,
    • Step 3 – Minimum Pell Grant Eligibility.
  • Revisions to several of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid are required, including a new interface to directly receive federal tax information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – this change is made possible by the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education Act (FUTURE Act).

Resources

Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs)

  • DCL GEN-24-01: 2024-2025 Federal Pell Grant Maximum and Minimum Award Amounts
    • Includes the Federal Pell Grant maximum and minimum award amounts for the 2024-25 award year (July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025). With the release of the 2024-25 FAFSA form in December 2023, ED is providing the Pell Grant maximum and minimum award amounts so institutions may inform students and families about their eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant. All 2024-25 Federal Pell Grant awards must be based on these amounts. As a reminder, the FAFSA Simplification Act changed the process for determining the amount of a student's Scheduled Pell Grant award – details are provided in the DCL.

Electronic Announcements

  • GENERAL-24-82: Updated Password Requirements for AIMS Users
    • Effective July 7, 2024, new password requirements have been implemented for users accessing systems behind Federal Student Aid's Access and Identity Management System (AIMS). A user with an existing FSA User ID and password will be prompted to create a password that meets the new requirements the next time the user performs a password change or reset.
  • GENERAL-24-71: Resolving Conflicting Information
    • Clarifies a number of instances when institutions are required to identify and resolve conflicting information and discrepant data that would affect a student's eligibility for Title IV funds, especially pertaining to the 2024-25 award year and FAFSA processing year.
  • COD-24-05: Additional COD System Implementation for 2024-25 Award Year (June 2024)
    • On June 30, 2024, ED plans to implement additional Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System functionality that supports the Campus-Based programs and the processing of Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, and Direct Loan awards for the 2024-25 award year. To implement the COD System functionality, COD batch processing will be suspended from 11 p.m. (CT) on Saturday, June 29, 2024 until 10 a.m. (CT) on Sunday, June 30, 2024. Records submitted via the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG) during the outage period will be held and processed after 10 a.m. (CT) on June 30, 2024. In addition, during the outage, users will not be able to submit or retrieve data or access the COD Reports area of the COD website.
  • GENERAL-24-60: Summary of Department Reprocessing of 2024-25 FAFSA Records
    • ED provides a follow-up to the April 10 Electronic Announcement (GENERAL-24-38) that detailed the school- or state-specific data files delivered to assist schools and states in identifying impacted records due to FPS or IRS FA-DDX reprocessing. To avoid confusion, if reprocessing a 2024-25 FAFSA record would not have resulted in an updated ISIR, ED did not reprocess that record or send a subsequent transaction.
  • EDESUITE-24-03: Availability of EDExpress for Windows, 2024-25, Release 2.0
    • Announces availability of EDExpress for Windows 2024-25 (Release 2.0), which adds full Pell Grant, Direct Loan, and TEACH Grant functionality for the 2024-25 award cycle. In addition, the following EDExpress 2024-25 documents are available for download from the Knowledge Center website: Installation Guide for EDExpress for Windows 2024-25 (provides technical and installation guidance); EDExpress for Windows 2024-25, Release 2.0 Cover Letter (provides critical information regarding enhancements and other updates in Release 2.0); EDExpress for Windows 2024-25, Release 2.0 Desk Reference (includes step-by-step guidance regarding EDExpress Pell Grant and Direct Loan functionality in Release 2.0); and, Volume 3 of the 2024-25 COD Technical Reference (provides technical guidance and record layouts for use with the EDExpress 2024-25 Pell Grant, Direct Loan, and TEACH Grant modules).
  • GENERAL-24-53: Update on the Availability of the DHS/SAVE Secondary Confirmation Process for Confirming Eligible Noncitizen Status
    • Explains that – while ISIRs continue to be verified with the DHS through the initial (primary) match process – the secondary match process with the DHS is not yet available for the 2024-25 application cycle, and provides guidance for schools that are currently unable to view or resolve cases that are pending review under the secondary match process. ED anticipates that the DHS secondary match process will be available in the near future, and will notify schools by posting additional updates to the Knowledge Center.
  • GENERAL-24-52: Update on Access to the 2024-25 FAFSA Form for Individuals Without a Social Security Number
    • Announces changes to ED systems to allow applicants and contributors without a Social Security number (SSN) to immediately access the online 2024-25 FAFSA form after creating a StudentAid.gov account. ED is temporarily allowing individuals without an SSN to enter and complete the 2024-25 FAFSA. Students and contributors without an SSN must continue to manually enter their tax information, and students without an SSN must verify their eligible noncitizen status through their school before they receive any federal funds.
  • COD-24-03: COD System Implementation for 2024-25 Award Year
    • Provides information related to the planned April 21, 2024, implementation of Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System functionality that supports the Campus-Based programs and the processing of Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) awards for the 2024-25 award year.
  • GENERAL-24-40: Final Testing Phase of 2024-25 FAFSA Form Corrections; Broad Availability Next Week
    • Alerts institutional partners that ED is in the final phase of testing 2024-25 FAFSA form corrections. While students and FAFSA form contributors may be able to see correction availability for very brief periods while testing is completed, users attempting to make corrections during the testing phase may experience issues. Students and contributors should return early the week of April 15, 204, when ED plans to have corrections broadly available.
  • GENERAL-24-29: Update on Tax Data Received from the FA-DDX and Manually Entered Information
    • Provides additional details regarding: previously-identified discrepancies in tax data and how they affect 2024-25 FAFSAs submitted to date; plans to address the issues; and, guidance to institutions on their options for moving forward (including how they can identify FAFSA forms with no known errors, forms institutions can choose to correct, and forms that ED will reprocess).
  • GENERAL-24-27: Update on 2024-25 FAFSA Processing
    • Announces that, to date, ED has processed more than 4.3 million FAFSA forms and delivered ISIRs to the majority of schools, states, and designated scholarship organizations. ED is on track to complete processing roughly 6 million FAFSA forms and transmitting the resulting ISIRs to schools, states, and scholarship agencies by the end of March. In addition, a new FAFSA Status tracker – which is available via the Knowledge Center, and will be refreshed twice per week – provides the number of FAFSA forms submitted to ED and the number of FAFSA forms ED has processed.
  • EDESUITE-24-01: Availability of EDExpress for Windows 2024-25, Release 1.0
    • Announces availability of EDExpress for Windows 2024–25 (Release 1.0), along with corresponding installation guide, cover letter, and desk reference documents. Release 1.0 contains Global, Application Processing, and Packaging functionality for the 2024-25 cycle. The 2024-25 Packaging Technical Reference, which provides technical guidance and record layouts for use with the EDExpress 2024-25 Packaging module, is also available.
  • GENERAL-24-12: Additional 2024-25 Test ISIR Data File and Other Tools Available
    • Announces that the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has begun publishing additional test versions of the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR). The new test ISIR data file contains fictitious student records with realistic field values for different scenarios. Testing is optional. ED also has begun publishing open-source tools to help colleges, third-party servicers, and software vendors with their testing and preparations for the 2024-25 ISIRs.
  • GENERAL-24-11: 2024-25 Award Year Flexibilities and Department Letters to Presidents
    • Announces steps to help colleges process student records faster and more efficiently, building upon the work that is underway to support colleges and students through the FAFSA College Support Strategy. In addition, an e-mail message from the Secretary of Education is being sent to leadership at all institutions of higher education, to ensure they are aware of the support and services available to them under the FAFSA College Support Strategy.
  • GENERAL-24-06: 2024-25 FAFSA Student Aid Index Update and Timeline 
    • Provides an update regarding the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) process, including further details regarding aid eligibility and the post-processing experience for students, institutions, state higher education agencies, and scholarship organizations. Based on current estimates, ED anticipates starting to transmit batches of FAFSA information (ISIRs) – which will include updated SAI tables – to schools and state agencies in the first half of March.
  • COD-23-08: COD School Testing for the 2024-25 Award Year
    • This announcement provides high-level information about COD School Testing for the 2024-25 award year, which will take place from January 8, 2024 through December 13, 2024. Any school that will participate in the Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, or Direct Loan program for the first time in the 2024-25 award year must complete school testing with the COD System before sending data into production. While other schools are not required to test with the COD System, all schools, software providers, and third-party servicers may participate in testing.
  • GENERAL-23-115: 2024–25 FAFSA Soft Launch Details and Timelines
    • ED expands upon previously-shared information regarding the timeline of the 2024-25 FAFSA® form launch, and also shares details about what applicants and families can expect through February 2024. ED will be treating the period leading up to and following December 31, 2023 as a "soft launch" period, during which they will be monitoring site performance, conducting planned pauses for maintenance, and making updates to improve the user experience for students and families.
  • APP-23-21: Draft 2024–25 FAFSA Specifications Guide (December 2023 Update #2) Now Available
    • With this this December 2023 Update #2, ED has updated Volume 2 – FPS Schedule and Getting Help, Volume 3 – Electronic Data Exchange and FAFSA Processing, and Volume 6 – ISIR Guide; these are now final. They also have updated Volume 5 – Edits and Rejects, which was initially published as final on December 7, 2023 (the changes made since December 7 are noted in the volume's Change History Table).
  • APP-23-16: Announcing the 2024-25 FAFSA Prototype
    • While not a complete replica of the 2024-25 FAFSA form that will be available on fafsa.gov, the prototype is a web-based design tool that offers the financial aid community an opportunity to navigate specific scenarios that many 2024-25 applicants will encounter.
  • APP-23-15: 2024-25 Test ISIR Data File Available
    • Announces the availability of a 2024-25 test Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) data file for use in optional system testing by schools, state agencies, software providers, and other agencies and entities.
  • GENERAL-23-78: Release of Revised Federal Student Aid Estimator
    • Announces the release of a newly-revised Federal Student Aid Estimator that provides an estimate of the new Student Aid Index (SAI) – which will be used to determine financial aid eligibility for the 2024-25 academic year – and revised federal Pell Grant eligibility calculation.
  • COD-23-06: COD Common Record XML Schema Version 5.0b Now Available
    • In spring 2024, ED plans to implement Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System functionality that will support the processing of Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, and Direct Loan awards for the 2024–25 award year. At that time, this new version (5.0b) of the COD Common Record Extensible Markup Language (XML) Schema will be used.

Other Resources