Changes to your family contribution
The new Student Aid Index
A major goal of the FAFSA Simplification Act is to make the amount of aid your student is eligible for more transparent and predictable. In the past, the FAFSA determined aid using the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). It was a complicated process even for financial aid specialists. Families often had no idea how much they could receive until they got their financial aid offer from the college.
The new Student Aid Index (SAI) is streamlined and better defined. Under certain circumstances, low-income students can be eligible for need-based aid using only the family’s adjusted gross income taken from their income tax return. The new SAI streamlines procedures for students with more complicated income sources as well.
Families with more than one member in college
Under the old Estimated Family Contribution system, if you had multiple family members in college at the same time, your EFC was split between them. Under the new Student Aid Index, the Better FAFSA will still ask the question, but it doesn’t consider the number of family members in college in its calculations.
For example and using some very simplified numbers: Under the old FAFSA, if your EFC was $3,000 and you had three eligible family members enrolled in college at the same time, each enrolled student could have an EFC of $1,000. This would have increased the amount of federal aid they could receive. Now in the Better FAFSA, each of the three will have an SAI of $3,000, decreasing the amount of federal aid.