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Better FASFA, Better Future

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 Future”?

“Better FAFSA, Better Future” is a federal initiative to implement updates resulting from the FAFSA Simplification Act.

The 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) 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.

What Do I Need To Complete The FAFSA® Form?

For the 2024-25 FAFSA Form, students and contributors (parents or spouses) are required to have an FSA ID to complete and sign the form online. 

As you fill out the 2024-25 FAFSA Form, you might need the following information or documents:

  • Your parents' SSNs (if you're a dependent student)
  • Tax returns
  • Records of child support received
  • Current balances of cash, savings, and checking accounts
  • Net worth of investments, businesses, and farm

Support from Federal Student Aid (FSA) 

FAFSA Changes

These are some changes you may notice when completing the FAFSA Form. 

  • No more Data Retrieval Tool! – The FAFSA will link directly to the IRS to populate Federal Tax Information (FTI) needed to determine your eligibility if you and your parents (or spouse, if applicable) provide consent.

  • Expanded eligibility for federal financial aid – More students will receive Federal Pell Grants as a result of the new FAFSA formula.

  • 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, and, 

    • 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.

  • Reduced barriers for certain populations – The new FAFSA removes many questions.  The reduction in questions will make completing the FAFSA easier for you and your family.

  • You will also notice a better user experience for the FAFSA online form.

Important Things to Remember

  • Complete the FAFSA Form every year. 
  • Confirm that you can access your Federal Student Aid account
  • 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.
  • 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 FAFSA
  • Visit the Federal Student Aid's website for more information. 


What is the FAFSA Simplification Act? | Federal Student Aid

2024-25 FAFSA Issues Report and Updates

Better FAFSA, Better CADAA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Learn About the Student Aid Report (SAR)

Parent/Spouse Contributors Without Social Secuirty Numbers Resource