FAFSA Updates: 2024-25 Cycle

"The FAFSA Simplification Act represents a significant overhaul of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid starting with the 2024–25 award year. This includes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)® form, need analysis, and many policies and procedures for schools that participate in federal student aid programs."  —Federal Student Aid

The 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will see the implementation of some of the biggest changes in recent times to this important aid application.

Legislation passed by Congress in 2020 sets the goal of simplifying the application process and ushers in changes in the calculation of aid eligibility. The most obvious changes can be broken down into three categories: Simplification, Financial Data, and SAI.

VMI's financial aid team is here to help interested students and current cadets as this transition of the FAFSA takes place. Here are some answers to common questions across higher education during this update:

When will the 2024-25 FAFSA become available for students to complete?

Due to the significant changes to both the application itself and the processing system updates and upgrades, the 2024-23 FAFSA will NOT be available October 1, 2023 (as it normally would be). Federal Student Aid has indicated the application will be available "sometime in December 2023". Updates will be posted here, as well as on VMI social media channels, as they become available.

Is the FAFSA still required for financial aid?

Yes. While the window for applying to aid will be shortened with these updates, the FAFSA is still required for VMI (and other colleges across the nation) for those wishing to receive aid. It is important that those looking to receive aid file the FAFASA as soon as it becomes available.

Should I still apply to VMI now, or should I wait for the FAFSA?

Admission to VMI for students wishing to matriculate in Fall 2024 is open now, and applications are being processed. First-year students, transfer students, and international students are all encouraged to begin their application. For all first-year students (domestic and international) there is now the option of utilizing Common App. Visit the Apply page for full details and deadlines.

NOTE: An individual must be appointed to the Institute before a final financial aid offer is made, so it is important to complete all application requirements as soon as possible.

What about other funding?

There are a number of funding opportunities, including grants, scholarships, and loans available to applicants and cadets enrolled at VMI. Some are reliant on FAFSA information, but others are not. Explore the types of aid available and reach out to the Financial Aid Office if you have any specific questions.

What exactly are all of these changes and how will they affect my aid eligibility?


Upon release for 2024-23, the FAFSA will be reduced in length from a possible maximum of 108 questions to a possible maximum of 46 questions. Since the application itself is now dynamic on the web, skipping questions that are not pertinent to specific applicants, some students may not see all questions.

Financial Data

In previous FAFSA applications, students, and parent(s) (when students are dependent) entered their tax information or used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer tax data from the IRS to the FAFSA. Beginning with 2024-25, all persons listing tax information on the FAFSA will be required to use the IRS Direct Data Exchange (DDX) to share tax information or confirm non-filing status. This change means that the student and all parents (when students are dependent) with tax data to report must get an FSA ID.

Note: These IDs can be created before the FAFSA for 2024-25 launches in December.

Student Aid Index (SAI)

In previous years, the FAFSA calculated Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). In the 2024-25 application, this calculation will be replaced by the Student Aid Index (SAI). Unlike the EFC, this new SAI calculation can result in a negative number, with the minimum SAI being -1500. Additional changes to the calculation may affect a student's aid eligibility:

  • SAI removes the number of family members in college from the calculation. The FAFSA previously divided the EFC proportionally based on the number of family members in the household enrolled in college. This change is universal, so a sibling(s) at schools other than VMI may also see aid eligibility changes.
  • Federal Pell Grant access will be expanded. It will be linked to household size and federal poverty levels for automatic eligibility. Families making less than 175% and single parents making less than 225% 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%, 325%, 350%, or 400% of the poverty level, depending on household structure. Pell awards between the maximum and minimum amounts will be determined by SAI.
  • Income Protection Allowances (IPAs) will increase. An IPA is the amount of money not considered in FAFSA calculations to ensure families have enough resources to cover basic living expenses. This number will increase, lowering the amount of money considered in the SAI calculation. IPAs will increase by 20% for parents, up to about $2400 (35%) for most students, and up to about $6500 (60%) for students who are single parents.
  • Family farms and small businesses may require reporting, and could influence SAI.

REMINDER: 2024-25 FAFSA changes are being implemented by the U.S. Department of Education and affect all colleges and universities. Information on this webpage is subject to change as new information becomes available.


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