Better FAFSA for 2024-2025

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is undergoing big changes for the 2024-25 academic year! In 2020, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act, which requires major changes to the federal student financial aid process including the annual FAFSA.

How FAFSA changes will affect Cornell students:

Start a new 2024-25 FAFSA form

Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after December 31, but no later than:

  • First-Year Applicants: February 15, 2024
  • Transfer Applicants: March 15, 2024
  • Continuing Students: March 1, 2024

The 2024-25 FAFSA will be much easier to complete.

The FAFSA will be available in 11 common languages and, for most families, the number of questions FAFSA asks will be reduced by more than half. FAFSA Contributors’ (students and parents) IRS tax information will be automatically transferred, and some students will automatically qualify for a Pell Grant.

For most students, qualifying for federal aid will be simpler, less time-consuming, and less stressful than ever before.

Some students’ eligibility for federal aid may change.

The FAFSA overhaul includes significant changes to federal eligibility criteria. Cornell remains committed to meeting 100 percent of admitted undergraduates’ demonstrated financial need. A small number of students who received a Pell Grant previously may be eligible for less or may no longer be eligible.

If your eligibility for the federal Pell Grant changes, your Cornell grant or endowed scholarship aid will be adjusted to ensure your demonstrated financial need continues to be fully met.

New York State residents must apply for state aid via the New York Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website.

Because of the FAFSA overhaul, the 2024-25 FAFSA will not be directly connected to the New York State aid application as it has been in the past. The U.S. Department of Education expects to restore this feature with the 2025-26 FAFSA.

If you are a NYS resident, apply for NYS TAP now.

Admitted first-year and continuing students will receive an aid estimate before receiving an official aid offer.

All first-year and continuing U.S. students must complete two aid applications — the CSS Profile and FAFSA. Eligible financial aid applicants will receive a preliminary aid estimate for the 2024-25 academic year — based on self-reported CSS Profile information only.

Aid estimates are accurate — including expected family contribution, self-help aid (work-study or loans), and total grant aid — assuming self-reported CSS Profile information is consistent with the required documentation submitted via IDOC and IRS-verified FAFSA information, once received.

  • Official aid offers will be available after Cornell receives FAFSA data from the U.S. Department of Education, tentatively beginning mid-May, 2024.
  • Official aid offers may differ from preliminary aid estimates if self-reported CSS Profile information is not consistent with IRS-verified FAFSA information.

Other 2024-25 FAFSA details:

FAFSA Contributors include the student, the student’s spouse (if applicable), a biological or adoptive parent, and the spouse of a remarried parent who is a Contributor (stepparent). An FSA ID will be required for each Contributor (existing FSA IDs remain valid), and all Contributors must consent to using the U.S. Department of Education’s IRS Direct Data Exchange to transfer their tax information or confirmation of non-filing status into the FAFSA.

Transferring data directly from the IRS is expected to significantly reduce federal verification requirements and requests for additional documentation.

In the past, dependent students provided financial information for the parent(s) they lived with the most. New for 2024-25, dependent students will be required to provide information from the parent(s) who provides the most financial support, even if the student did not live with them.

The FAFSA will guide dependent students through this determination, including identifying unusual family circumstances if applicable.

For many years, the primary output from the FAFSA was an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). For 2024-25, the EFC is being replaced by the Student Aid Index (SAI). This change in terminology more accurately represents how the output from the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal student aid.

Use the Federal Student Aid Estimator to estimate your 2024-25 SAI and how much federal student aid you may be eligible to receive.

In the past, the FAFSA considered the number of household members attending college when calculating a student’s EFC. Going forward, the FAFSA will continue to ask how many household members are attending college, but the information will not be considered in the SAI calculation. Families with more than one household member in college may no longer be eligible for the same amount of federal aid as in previous years. Cornell will continue to recognize the number of family members in college for the purpose of determining Cornell grant and endowed scholarship aid.

If a student eligible for Cornell grant or endowed scholarship aid experiences a loss in federal grant aid, Cornell grant or endowed scholarship aid will increase to ensure 100 percent of demonstrated need continues to be fully met.

In the past, families were not required to report small business or family farm assets on the FAFSA. Going forward, families who own small businesses or family farms will be required to determine the net value of these assets.

If a student eligible for Cornell grant or endowed scholarship aid experiences a loss in federal grant aid, Cornell grant or endowed scholarship aid will increase to ensure 100 percent of demonstrated need continues to be fully met.