Questions and Answers

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) has two guides outlining changes and enhancements to the 2024-25 FAFSA and California Dream Act Applications:

Review and Updates Q&A

Better FAFSA, Better CADAA FAQ's

Q: When will the 2024-25 FAFSA be available to families to complete and submit?

The U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid (FSA) soft launched the 2024-25 application in late December 2023, during which time the application will be available to students and families periodically as the department pulls the form down from time to time to perform maintenance and address any potential issues.

Q: This new process is being referred to as “FAFSA Simplification.” Is the new form really simplified?

The number of questions on the form has been reduced. The new form will also allow for a much larger percentage of students and parents to have their financial information transferred from the IRS directly into the FAFSA. This enhanced process should make FAFSA submission a more efficient process.

Q: Will a student or parent be able to access the 2024-25 FAFSA without an FSA ID?

No. Every student, parent, or spouse that wishes to log in and complete or sign the FAFSA will need to have a verified FSA ID. You will no longer be able to access a FAFSA with student demographic information only. It takes one-to-three days for an FSA ID to go through the verification process. Everyone should anticipate setting up their FSA ID at least one week prior to starting the FAFSA.

Q: Will individuals without Social Security numbers (SSN) be able to secure an FSA ID to use with the 2024-25 FAFSA?

Yes. The new FSA ID process for those without SSNs includes an identity verification process. The user will be asked up to four knowledge-based questions provided by TransUnion, the consumer credit reporting agency. Individuals who do not provide correct answers on the first attempt will receive an email with instructions for an alternative method to complete their identify verification. Individuals will also be directed to contact the FSA Information Center (FSAIC) to initiate the identity verification process.


Q: What does the 2024-25 FAFSA mean when referring to "contributors"? 

  1. Contributor is a new term introduced on the 2024-25 FAFSA form. It refers to anyone
    asked to provide information on a student's FAFSA form, i.e., the student, the student's
    spouse, a biological or adopted parent, or the parent's spouse (stepparent).
  2. 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.
  3. A Contributor on the FAFSA form doesn't mean they are financially responsible for the
    student's education costs.

Q: How do I know who is a Contributor on my FAFSA? 

As the student and/or parent provides answers on the online FAFSA application, the application itself will determine which contributors are required to consent to the IRS data exchange and provide additional information. 

Q: What identifying information is needed to invite a Contributors to help fill out my FAFSA? 

Once the FAFSA identifies a contributor on your FAFSA, you will need to enter their name, date of birth, Social Security number, and email address. The FAFSA Processing System (FPS) will use this information to email the contributor to consent to the use of their IRS income and tax information and provide other needed information for your FAFSA. 

Q: What are the steps Contributors must follow?

  1. Contributor receives an email informing them that they've been identified as a
  2. Contributor creates a account if they don't already have one.
  3. Contributor logs in to account using their FSA ID  account username and
  4. Contributor reviews information about completing their section of the FAFSA
  5. Contributor provides the required information and consent on the student's FAFSA form.


Q: What if I am a Contributor and don't want to provide my information in my
student's FAFSA? 

Being a contributor does NOT implicate financial responsibility. However, if a required
contributor refuses to provide their information, it will result in an incomplete FAFSA
form, and the student will become ineligible for federal student aid. 

Q: What if my parents are divorced? Who is the contributor to my FAFSA? 

Students whose parents are divorced report only one parent on the FAFSA. The parent included on the FAFSA as a contributor must be the parent that provides the greater portion of the student's financial support regardless of who the student physically lives with. If that primary parent is remarried, the income of that parent's spouse (stepparent) will also be required. For more information on who should be the parent of record on the FAFSA visit the FSA website.

Q: Why does the FAFSA 2024-25 require consent from students and contributors? 

According to the FUTURE Act, all students and contributors must provide consent to the

  1.  Have their federal tax information transferred directly into the FAFSA® form via
    direct data exchange with the IRS;
  2. Have their federal tax information used to determine the student's eligibility for
    federal student aid; and
  3. 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.

Q: What if I don't want to provide consent as a student or a required contributor? 

  1. 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.
  2. Information about how federal tax information will be used and the consequences
    of not providing consent will be included on the FAFSA form.
  3.  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.

Q. Do the invitations to contributors to provide federal tax information and consent expire? 

Yes. Information to be a contributor will be deleted when it has been inactive for 45 days. Any previously entered information will be deleted and the process must be started over.

Q. What if my contributors have divorced since filing their joint federal tax return from two years ago? Am I required to manually provide income and tax information on the FAFSA form?

Yes. There are circumstances when an applicant’s Federal Tax Information (FTI) does not accurately represent the applicant’s financial situation, including cases where an individual’s marital status has changed since filing taxes two years prior. In these circumstances, the applicant and/or one of their FAFSA contributors may need to enter data on the FAFSA form manually.

Q. What happens if my family size on the FAFSA form is different from the family size received from the IRS when Federal Tax Information (FTI) is transferred? Is there an option to modify my family size? 

Applicants have the option to self-report a family size on their FAFSA form that is different from the family size received from the IRS.

Q. Since the FAFSA does not open until December 31, what can I do right now?

We highly encourage students and parents to create an FSA ID if you have not done so already. You can start this process at It takes one to three days for an FSA ID to go through the verification process, so we recommend getting it done now.

Q. Will small business and family farm net values still be exempt when reporting assets?

No. The new legislation removed the exemption for reporting the net value of family farms and businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The net value of these assets will need to be included when the student/family is required to answer the asset questions.