A Contributor is NOT a grandparent, foster parents, legal guardian, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, even if they helped provide for or raise the student.
A Contributor on the FAFSA form doesn't mean they are financially responsible for the student's education costs.
- Contributor receives an email informing them that they've been identified as a contributor.
- Contributor creates a StudentAid.gov account if they don't already have one.
- Contributor logs in to account using their FSA ID account username and password.
- Contributor reviews information about completing their section of the FAFSA form.
- Contributor provides the required information on the student's FAFSA form.
The parent included in the FAFSA as a contributor must be the parent that provides the greater portion of the student's financial support. If that primary parent is remarried, the income of that parent's spouse (stepparent) will also be required.
According to the Future Act, all students and contributors must provide consent to the following:
- Have their federal tax information transferred directly into the FAFSA® form via direct data exchange with the IRS;
- Have their federal tax information used to determine the student's eligibility for federal student aid; and
- Allow the U.S. Department of Education to share its federal tax information with postsecondary institutions and state higher education agencies for use in awarding and administering financial aid.
Important: Even if students or contributors don't have a Social Security number, didn't file taxes, or filed taxes outside of the U.S., they still need to provide consent.
- If a student or required contributor doesn't provide consent to have their federal tax information transferred into the FAFSA® form, the student will not be eligible for federal student aid—even if they manually enter tax information into the FAFSA form.
- Information about how federal tax information will be used and the consequences of not providing consent will be included on the FAFSA form.
- Legal parents must provide consent to transfer federal tax information, even if one of the parents didn't file or had no income. If parents fail to provide consent, the student won't be eligible to receive federal student aid.
- If you did not file 2022 taxes, but were required, you cannot apply for Federal Financial Aid until you do so. This is Federal Law, not an HCN Decision.
- If you filed incorrectly, or with a questioned status, you may need to refile with a permissible or corrected status. For example, you are married and filed Head of Household, may require that you refile your taxes correctly before you can apply & be considered for Federal Financial Aid.
Yes, while there are many, two of the most common include the following.
- If you claim separation from a spouse, be prepared to defend and prove separation.
- If you have children, but do not claim them on your tax returns, they are not included in your Household size for aid eligibility consideration.
- All students and contributors must create a StudentAid.gov account to complete the FAFSA form online. Create and FSA ID.
- Students and contributors will use their FSA ID account username and password to log in to their accounts.
- Even if a parent or spouse contributor doesn't have a Social Security number, they can still get an FSA ID using their ITIN to fill out their portion of the student's FAFSA form online.
To create an FSA ID, you'll need your Social Security number (SSN). Other information required is full name and date of birth. You'll also need to create a memorable username and password and complete challenge questions and answers to retrieve your account information if you forget it. You'll be required to provide your email address or mobile phone number when you make your FSA ID. Providing a mobile phone number and/or email address that you have access to will make it easier to log in to ED online systems and allow you to verify your FSA ID before using it on the FAFSA and additional account recovery options.
This Federal Student Aid video can help create a step-by-step FSA ID.
Your parents' citizenship status doesn't affect your eligibility for federal aid. They cannot create an FSA ID, but you can complete the FAFSA on paper and ask for their signatures. For FAFSA purposes, you must provide your parents' income, no matter where they reside.
If the parent you indicate on the FAFSA is the parent who remarried, it'll depend on how they filed taxes. If they filed jointly, only one parent needs an FSA ID. If they filed separately, both parents would need their own FSA ID.
Yes! For example, a student and parent cannot use the same phone number for MFA.
Starting 2024-25, a separate signature page will no longer exist. There are two alternative options for contributors to provide consent who do not want to or refuse to create an FSA ID:
- The first example would be the student applying using the paper FAFSA and obtaining wet signatures from all contributors, including the parents, who also affirm their consent.
- The other option is for the student to complete their section and then self-reports information for the parent section on the FAFSA form. When the student submits their FAFSA form without the parent's signature, it will be placed in rejected status by the FAFSA Processing System (FPS). The parent can then provide their signature and consent on a paper copy of the FAFSA Submission Summary. This method is not recommended due to complexity and increased processing time.
Consent, Taxes & Financial Data
The consent will be required when a student submits a FAFSA, chooses Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) when starting loan repayment, or submits the Total and Permanent Disability discharge (TPD) within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for totally and permanently disabled students.
The consent is necessary not only for the Department of Education to request federal tax information from the IRS but also to use that FTI in the federal student aid application process, as well as do other things such as redisclose that information to certain eligible entities, such as higher education institutions.
According to the IRS tax year 2022, these are the thresholds by filing status. If an independent student (and spouse, if married), or a parent of a dependent student, were not required to file a federal income tax return for 2022, then the student will automatically receive a Student Aid Index (SAI) equal to –1500. They still need to provide consent when submitting the FAFSA, so the IRS can confirm to Federal Student Aid (FSA) the student, parents, and spouse didn't file taxes.
All users identified as required contributors on a particular FAFSA form will be prompted to provide consent for the IRS to use their Federal Tax Information (FTI). This consent is required to retrieve FTI from the IRS to calculate the student's aid eligibility. If any party to the FAFSA form does not provide consent, submission of the form will still be allowed. However, a Student Aid Index (SAI), which replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), will not be calculated.
Our Federal Aid Counselors can offer to talk directly with the parent or stepparent to explain why that information is needed and answer any questions, which sometimes puts them at ease about how their sensitive info will be used. However, we cannot provide tax advice.
Being self-employed does end up showing business income on tax returns. But it depends on the type of work whether or not they will have to report any assets associated with their business.
Starting 2024-25, there will be only two options for filing a FAFSA form: electronically, through studentaid.gov, or the option to file on paper which will also be available. However, once an application is started online, all parties must complete it online. So that means that if a signature is missing, the parent or the contributor that needs to complete their section and/or sign the application must obtain an FSA ID and get into the application and complete their section.
There is no option to print a signature page any longer. For this reason, financial aid administrators will not be able to submit complete FAFSA forms because of the consent provision that all contributors must provide and sign.
Students and parents will be required to have an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA application online. If they choose to mail a paper FAFSA, both will need to provide consent on the paper FAFSA, and both will need to provide wet signatures and mail the application to the Department of Education address on the paper application. This method is not recommended due to complexity and increased processing time.
There is no longer a separate signature page, and there won't be a consent signature option on paper. There are two alternative options for contributors to provide consent who do not want to or refuse to create an FSA ID. One option is to submit a paper FAFSA form completed by all contributors and mailed to the Federal Student Aid. This method is not recommended due to complexity and increased processing time.
Student Aid Index (SAI) and Pell Grant
SAI, or Student Aid Index, is replacing the term Expected Family Contribution, known as EFC. The SAI brings a change in the methodology used to determine aid.
- The SAI is a number used to determine eligibility for need-based aid. It is calculated using information the student (and contributors, if required) provides on the FAFSA form.
- The SAI will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) starting in the 2024–25 award year.
- A student’s SAI can be a negative number down to –1500.
Important: Your federal award equals Need= Cost of Attendance (COA) –Student Aid Index (SAI) –Other Financial Assistance (OFA).
The Student Aid Index (SAI) represents a change in the methodology used to determine aid:
- Child support received will now count as an asset instead of income.
- Family farms and small businesses will now count as assets.
- The number of family members in college is no longer considered in the needs analysis formula, but it is still a required question on the FAFSA® form.
Additional information on the SAI formulas can be found in the 2024-25 DRAFT Pell Eligibility and SAI Guide.
Maximum Pell Grant - Students may qualify for a maximum Pell Grant based on family size, adjusted gross income, poverty guidelines, and tax filing status. Students qualifying for a maximum Pell Grant will have a Student Aid Index (SAI) between –1500 and 0.
Student Aid Index (SAI) - Students who don’t qualify for a maximum Pell Grant may still be eligible if their calculated SAI is less than the maximum Pell Grant award for the award year. The student’s Pell Grant award will be equal to the maximum Pell Grant for the award year minus their SAI.
Minimum Pell Grant - Students whose SAI is greater than the maximum Pell Grant award for the award year may still be eligible for a Pell Grant based on family size, adjusted gross income, and poverty guidelines.
For the 2024–25 award year, some financial information previously considered income will be considered as assets. Also, some information not requested previously, like the family’s small business, will no longer be excluded from asset reporting.
Pell grant will not be awarded per enrollment category any longer, but per amount of credits.
Professional Judgement & Appeals
- Unusual circumstances are when a student is unable to contact a parent or where contact with the parent poses a risk to the student.
- Starting in the 2024–25 award year, applicants who indicate on their FAFSA® form that they have unusual circumstances will be granted provisional independent status.
- Examples of unusual circumstances include human trafficking, legally granted refugee or asylum status, parental abandonment or estrangement, and student or parental incarceration.
- Students with unusual circumstances will be granted provisional independent status and can complete the FAFSA® form without providing parental information.
- Students with this provisional independent student status will receive an estimate of their federal student aid eligibility.
- A financial aid administrator will make the final determination of a student’s unusual circumstances based on the documentation that the student submits to the school, or the financial aid administrator may perform their own personal assessment.
- If a school approves a student’s unusual circumstances, their independent student status will remain as long as the student stays at the same school and their circumstances don’t change.
- All unusual circumstances must be documented.
What you need to know:
For the 2024–25 award year, an independent student is one of the following:
- born before Jan. 1, 2001
- married (and not separated)
- a graduate or professional student
- a veteran
- a member of the armed forces
- an orphan
- a ward of the court
- Someone with legal dependents other than a spouse
- an emancipated minor
- someone who is unaccompanied and homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless
The dependency override is an important step in seeing how much financial aid they'll be eligible for. It is certainly a lot of work, but if the student is up to it, it's preferable for the student to pursue the override before making a decision so they can see accurate financial aid offers for each of their schools.
- Students can receive provisional eligibility calculation.
- Students with unusual circumstances directed to independent student flow.
- Approved unusual circumstance determinations will carry forward.
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