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Better FAFSA, Better CADAA

Our office created this site to assist the campus community in navigating through this process. Continue to check back in as we post additional resources and share important updates.

What is “Better FAFSA, Better CADAA”?

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) is making changes to the CADAA to include some updates from the FAFSA Simplification Act. This includes the change in financial aid calculation for students. Updates to both programs expand financial aid eligibility for many students. All students must complete either the FAFSA or CADAA to be considered for federal student aid.

The 2024–25 California Dream Act Application (CADAA) is now available to applicants online. Complete your application as early as possible to receive your financial aid award offer and make an informed college decision. Apply by May 2nd to be considered for all available financial aid.

The Federal Student Aid website has published a list of FAFSA Issues Report with updates and suggested workarounds to issues users are experiencing when completing their FAFSA Form. Please note that this list is not inclusive of all issues users may be experiencing, so be sure to check back regularly as the list is updated on an ongoing basis.

CADAA Changes

The California Dream Act Application allows students interested in attending eligible California colleges, universities, and career education programs to apply for state financial aid. 

The major changes for the 24-24 California Dream Act Application include:

  • The CADAA opened on December 31, 2023, instead of October 1st. At this time, applicants are recommended to complete their application as early as possible to receive their financial aid award offer and be able to make an informed college decision. Apply by May 2nd to be considered for maximum financial aid.

  • Student Aid Index (SAI) replaces Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – The new FAFSA formula will produce an SAI, which replaces the EFC, and financial aid offices will use this to determine your aid eligibility. A few major changes include:

    • How the number of family members in college is treated,

    • The SAI may be a negative number

    • Families who own a small business/farm that also serves as a primary residence will now have assets of that business/farm considered in their need analysis calculation.

  •   The parent signature process will be streamlined to 1-step (will no longer need to remember the system-generated 4-digit Parental PIN).

Important Things to Remember

  • Complete the Dream Application every year. 
  • Confirm that you can access your CA Dream Act Application account 
  • Apply early! Submit your application by May 2nd, 2024 for full aid consideration. Complete your application as early as possible to receive your financial aid award offer and make an informed college decision. 
  • Include UC Merced on your application; School code 041271
  • Continue to check your UC Merced email for updates from our office, including award letters. 
  • Visit our website and follow us on social media for quick updates and facts about the new CADAA
  • Visit the California Student Aid Commission's website for more information. 


What is the FAFSA Simplification Act? | Federal Student Aid

Better CADAA

Better FAFSA, Better CADAA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Undocumented Dreamer Students

CADAA Resources

Important Changes to 2024-25 FAFSA & CADAA