FAFSA® changes for the 2024-25 academic year

For years, U.S. Congress has tried to make it easier for families to apply for and receive financial aid. With the passage of the FAFSA Simplification Act in 2020, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and federal financial aid eligibility will see the greatest changes in decades. These changes will take effect for the 2024-25 academic year.

Occidental’s Office of Financial Aid is committed to keeping our community informed and helping families adapt to these changes in the coming year. The information below is a listing of the biggest changes and how Occidental plans to respond.

Delayed Release of FAFSA®

For years, the FAFSA® for each new academic year has been available on October 1 of the previous year. Due to the substantial changes to the application itself, the U.S. Department of Education has delayed the release of the 2024-25 FAFSA® until December 2023 (exact date unknown). We’ll make sure to let you know when it is released but the deadline to submit your 2024-25 FAFSA® for Occidental is April 2, 2024.

New Terminology

  • EFC has been replaced by SAI. The FAFSA® will no longer calculate an expected family contribution (EFC). Instead, each student will be given a Student Aid Index (or SAI) that will determine their eligibility for federal financial aid. While the EFC range was $0 to $99,999, the SAI range will be from -1,500 to 99,999. Occidental will continue to calculate an expected contribution from the student, the student’s custodial parent(s) and, if applicable, the student’s noncustodial parent.
  • Contributors. Any person whose information is required on the FAFSA® is now called a contributor. The student applicant is a contributor and so is the student’s spouse, legal parent(s), including stepparents, if applicable.
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) has been replaced by the Direct Data Exchange. Families can still transmit their prior-prior year’s federal income tax return data directly into the FAFSA®. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool, however, has been replaced by a new process called the Direct Data Exchange.
  • FTI approval. All contributors to a FAFSA® are now required to consent to the transmission of their information from the IRS. This process, currently known as “FAFSA FTI approval”, is the official permission to retrieve federal income tax information and send it to Occidental. FTI approval is given once per year and if any contributor does not provide FTI approval, the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

Changing Definitions

  • Who is the custodial parent? The FAFSA Simplification Act changed how to determine which parent(s) must provide information on the application. The custodial parent will now be defined as the parent who provided the student with the greatest financial support in the year prior and will no longer be tied to where the student lives. Since Occidental has always assessed a contribution from the (previous) noncustodial parent, this shift should not impact the majority of our families.

Changes to Eligibility

  • Siblings in college. The FAFSA® will continue to ask if the applicant will have a sibling enrolled in college in 2024-25, but it will no longer factor that information into federal aid eligibility. Don’t worry – Occidental will still consider siblings in college, as we always have, when calculating your family’s contribution.
  • Business and farms.While they were previously excluded from the FAFSA®, families with small businesses and farms will be asked about their value and they will be considered an asset in the calculation of the SAI.

If you have any additional questions about the changes to the FAFSA® and federal financial aid please contact the Office of Financial Aid at finaid@oxy.edu or 1-323-259-2548.


Contact Financial Aid
Office of Financial Aid

AGC Room 119
Occidental College
1600 Campus Road F-35
Los Angeles, CA 90041-3314